Friday, April 14, 2006

How to take money from Babies Part 1

I just found out about a new way to separate the rich from their money.  It is apparently based on a novel, The Ultimate Gift, which I haven’t yet read and which is being released as a motion picture sometime next year.  The premise is the search by a depressed billionaire for a suitable heir.  Just that is enough for a great comedy.  It turns out, from what I have been told that this billionaire’s children and relatives are basically no account and merely engaged in spending their allowances and waiting for his death to collect on their shares.  This realization strikes him to the core with unhappiness.  Wait! There is hope which comes in the form of a nephew who is a little idealistic and who can probably be manipulated in to adopting the appearance of decency.  The billionaire uncle spends time getting to know this person, something he probably done with the rest of his family all along, and decides he is worthy of his billions.  That is he is worthy of passing a test of his worth.
The nephew must fulfill twelve tasks, what is it with 12 step programs in America anyway, and upon successfully demonstrating his value as a human being he can get his billions and degenerate into one of the family.

Undoubtedly some will think I have oversimplified the story but personally I don’t think so.  This said even without reading the book.  What could be more banal than the complete story I have just outlined?  Well, guess what?  A whole cottage industry within the “wealth management” community has or is emerging.  It is known by various terms but it is essentially “legacy projection” Is this some kind of derivation of the media’s idea of   Presidential legacies?

Anyway, I was in a meeting where this topic was raised.  A person said, with a completely straight face, that the wealthy need and are looking for legacy planners.  Stupefied, I listened in amazement as this person described the wealth that could be extracted by a legacy planner from rich people too stupid to figure out their own lives.  AS the discussion went on it turns out that while becoming wealthy many rich people ignore their families and pay them to stay out of the way of wealth accumulation.  No surprise there, it’s an age old story.  Here’s the great thing about it, many of modern humans are so shallow themselves that they think they are in deep water just because they have a few bucks.

I don’t have room to go much further with this today and I’m sure how accurate an assessment of wealthy people is being made, but as I listened it all seemed to boil down to the fact that education and values are so weak in today’s world that the rich don’t know they’re adrift until they are rich enough to hit the shoals.

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