The Millionaire Next Door

Makes of Cars. . . Even the Glittering Rich

John, a financial advisor, is relocating to a south Florida affluent enclave.  He sought my advice concerning the “ideal” motor vehicle that he should acquire.   John, who values the millionaire next door concept, is seeking “special dispensation.”  He is fearful that he will alienate prospective clients by driving a dull normal make of car.

Countless times people in John’s position have tried to convince me that driving an expensive motor vehicle is part of the required uniform for those who provide professional services to the rich.  But I have never been persuaded.  The key to success is to provide a high level of core service that is way beyond expectation.  John should remember that it’s much more about managing the money of his “glittering rich” clients successfully than it is about the make of car he drives.

I profiled the glittering rich [approximately 80,000 households] in Stop Acting Rich.    These people are prodigious spenders on every form of prestige products and services.  Yet they live below their means because to qualify they must have a minimum net worth of $20M.  “The glittering rich . . . own . . . a top of the line BMW, Mercedes, Lexus. . . .  Most have at least one SUV.  Yet many of these SUVs are not in the luxury class.  Full size SUVs. . . are extremely popular among the glittering rich.”

So I have a compromise solution to John’s dilemma.  Why not purchase a previously owned, full size SUV produced by General Motors?  I estimate that about half of the glittering rich drive a Chevrolet Tahoe or Suburban and/or one of their clones under the GMC brand or Cadillac.  Within the GM family of full size SUVs, the Chevys are the most popular. These cars are big, comfortable, safe and considered by many to rank first in quality among all full size SUVs. 

And John shouldn’t have trouble finding one.  I recently found 93 pages of previously owned, full size GM SUVs for sale in John’s trade area on the Internet!


4 thoughts on “Makes of Cars. . . Even the Glittering Rich”

  1. You know, it is quite ironic that you posted this today. Just last night me and the boyfriend were debating on this very same topic. He too is under this impression that if you show up in the “right” car then people will open doors for you and respect you more, and that you will garner more clients. Particularly if you work on Wallstreet.

    How do you feel this fares for clothes? Another debate I hear from others is that you must “look” right otherwise you will not be hired. I do deem that a suit and tie will make you seem professional, yes, but I have never thought anybody would care so much as to check the namebrand of your said suit and tie.

  2. Tom, another great article. I am a retired financial advisor who faced the same dilemna John asked about. I decided to buy a “seasoned” luxury car, usually a Mercedes Benz with about 110,000 miles on it. I got to drive a nice car, never spent more than $12K, and became known as someone who appreciated quality and value. My clients appreciated my buying decision, which fit well with my value oriented investment approach for them.

  3. I agree with Andy on the car – there are plenty of well-made “luxury” cars available for less than $15-$20K and younger than 5 years old. There is nothing appealing to me about buying a new car over used. I just would rather someone else take the hit for the initial 7-8% depreciation. After all, everyone else on the road is driving a “used” car and buying a used one for yourself to drive makes you no different. The only new ones are those which have not been sold and driven off the dealer lot.

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