The head of private banking for a large financial institution in New York shared an interesting case study with me. An attorney from small town America referred a very wealthy client couple to this banker. The couple wanted to establish a banking relationship with an out of state institution. Like many wealthy people who live in small towns, they did not want the local establishment to know about the “considerable” wealth they had accumulated. This was especially important because they were anticipating cashing in many of their chips from a variety of businesses that they owned. They also planned to donate anonymously a significant portion of their wealth to a variety of charities.
Shortly after the couple arrived at the private bank in NYC, the banker began telling them about all of the ancillary services that clients could access including hard to get theater tickets, endorsements to join upscale clubs, A-list co-ops/townhouses for sale, art and antique purchases, etc. After about ten minutes of this, the wife pulled out a copy of a book from her large handbag. She placed it on the banker’s desk and pointed to it. Then she said, “This is who we are, the millionaire next door. You ought to read this if you haven’t already.”
After the banker’s red face returned to normal, they all laughed which cut the tension in the room. The couple had made it abundantly clear that they wanted only the traditional financial services provided by a private banking operation including anonymity. They weren’t interested in hiring a consigirue nor did they need their egos enhanced by gaining access to the New York social scene. Further they had no intention of buying a townhouse or any other residence in NYC.
Empathy for the needs of others is the key to success when marketing to millionaires. The banker in this case should have asked the couple, “how did you go from ground zero to where you are today?” In other words, the banker should have allowed the couple to tell their story. In most cases I find that no one ever asks the millionaire next door about his history and achievements.
This couple is part of an American “family” that has the highest number of millionaires. Yes, they are part of the anonymous family. I’m on a mailing list for a variety of annual reports from foundations, universities and other organizations of the noble variety. It seems that no matter where I look Mr .and Mrs. Anonymous are listed in the reports, often under the five, six, seven figure or more dollar categories.