Broker Check

Three Fears That Keep the Super Rich Up at Night

January 08, 2024

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Concierge medicine is increasingly available to help
    address key health concerns.
  • A combination of financial and personal solutions may
    help families deal with internal conflicts.
  • Financial and physical protective measures can potentially
    help safeguard wealth.

Significant wealth can reduce many of life’s troubles and anxieties—but it can’t eliminate all
of them entirely. Even the wealthiest people out there have fears that can keep them up at
night.
What’s more, we find that the extremely affluent often share many of the same worries the
rest of us have.
That said, the wealthy generally take some
highly effective action steps to address
thoSignificant wealth can reduce many of life’s troubles and anxieties—but it can’t eliminate all
of them entirely. Even the wealthiest people out there have fears that can keep them up at
night.
What’s more, we find that the extremely affluent often share many of the same worries the
rest of us have. 

Significant wealth can reduce many of life’s troubles and anxieties—but it can’t eliminate all
of them entirely. Even the wealthiest people out there have fears that can keep them up at
night.
What’s more, we find that the extremely affluent often share many of the same worries the
rest of us have. That said, the wealthy generally take some highly effective action steps to address
those worries and, quite often, overcome them. With that in mind, here’s a look at
the three biggest fears of the Super Rich— those people with a net worth of at least
$500 million—and some ways they combat those fears. The good news: If you share one or more of
these fears—and it’s likely you do—you can take a page from the Super Rich playbook
to tackle those concerns.

Health, family and wealth

Our experience serving the Super Rich tells us that, in general, they struggle with three main
fears about their lives and the lives of their families:

• Severe health problems for themselves or loved ones

• Dysfunctional family members doing substantial damage

• Losing their wealth

Obviously, the Super Rich don’t have a monopoly on these three fears—which are shared
by many people at various levels of wealth. But they do impact this group in particular ways,
which prompts the Super Rich to bring creative resources to bear on the problems.

Fear #1: Severe health problems.

The saying goes: “When you have your health, you have hundreds of problems. When you
don’t have your health, you have only one.”

Severe health concerns for you or the people you care most about can easily distract you
and drain you—emotionally, physically and maybe even financially. Dealing with them is a
top priority for the Super Rich, as it is for most everyone else. In the wake of the pandemic, it
seems more of us are taking a close look at our health and lifestyles—and what we might do
to improve them so we stick around for a long time.

Of course, the Super Rich are in a stronger position than many others to potentially mitigate
the possibility of severe health problems—as well as very effectively deal with them when
they arise. But the fact is, there is no assured defense against such ills. Anyone can have
heart disease or get cancer or contract a debilitating illness. Genetics and even plain old bad
luck can be a strong counterbalance to the power of personal wealth.

To address health-related concerns, we see the Super Rich increasingly taking key steps
such as:

• Joining a concierge medical practice. At its core, concierge medicine is a membership
model: For a fee, you get access to “boutique” medical practices with relatively small
ratios of patients to physicians—enabling faster appointments, longer visits and
significantly more personalized care given (in many cases) by physicians who have far
greater expertise than do typical care providers. Concierge practices might also offer
tech-enabled care such as telemedicine through smartphones as well as remote patient
monitoring.

• Pursuing greater longevity. Concerns over possible severe health problems are
prompting the Super Rich to be proactive. They are working on ways to extend their
longevity, such as employing personal genome sequencing—a process that can reveal
a person’s specific future health risks so they can be addressed early on. Some are even
undergoing experimental treatments such as stem cell therapies. Longevity-focused
care providers are increasingly in demand, as well.

Fear #2: Dysfunctional family members

Here’s another old saying: “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.”

Families can be a source of great joy and great sorrow (and probably every other possible
emotion, too!). And most families across the wealth spectrum have some conflicts,
codependencies, and members who drain the energy and resources of their relatives.

That said, family-related issues and conflicts can get especially challenging when there’s
wealth involved. Consider “bad seed” family members who exploit their families (and often
their family businesses) for personal gain, to the detriment of other family members and the
company. Bad seed family members can destroy family harmony as well as family wealth and
the future prospects of that wealth.

Another common problem in the world of the Super Rich is children who “just want to have a
good time.” These family members are very self-absorbed and commonly feel entitled. Some
of these more hedonistic kids get themselves into jams such as being arrested or being
center stage in lawsuits. While the idea of “tough love” often comes up, the more common
reaction is to rectify the situation quickly—something the Super Rich and their wealth and
connections can often accomplish.

What makes these situations especially complicated is that most Super Rich families have
a hard time reining in disruptive and oppressive family members. In fact, bailing them out
tends to convey to children the message that they can operate by different rules than other
people.

The most forward-thinking Super Rich parents tend to combat these and similar problems
in two ways:

• Financial solutions. Trusts with built-in oversight of an overprivileged child’s inheritance
can be an effective way to protect the child and other people. Such trusts might also
help protect assets from creditors and others. Of course, the best way to use a trust will
depend on the particular situation. If a family has a business and also has overprivileged
children, for example, succession planning and family wealth equalization strategies
often come into play.

Personal solutions. Crisis management and behavioral professionals are tapped to
address any damages, provide counseling and rehabilitation, and help families take
other steps to transition the child into more responsible patterns of behavior.

Fear #3: Losing their wealth

One more saying: “The higher you go, the farther you can fall—and the more it hurts.”

Despite their wealth—or perhaps because of it—the Super Rich worry about the emotional
and financial pain of losing their affluence and all that accompanies it. That’s especially
true among the Super Rich who also have the other two worries we’ve noted here. After all,
severe health problems and family dysfunction can certainly contribute to the Super Rich
losing their wealth.

That said, the Super Rich also worry about people who might maliciously try to take their
wealth. Their affluence makes them targets, in many cases, of actual criminals. For example,
there are people who prey on the houses of the very wealthy. In some cases, financial
predators try to manipulate the rich into entrusting their assets to them. Cybercriminals are
also increasingly looking for weaknesses and opportunities in fleecing the Super Rich.

The wealthy can also be targets of lawsuits, creditors, former spouses and others.

Solutions that may help safeguard the wealthy from losing their money are many and various,
and include:

• Finding and working with reliable financial professionals. It’s crucial to work with
advisors whose integrity and full operational transparency have been proven. Typically,
such high-caliber advisors are found through referrals from trusted peers and other
professionals.

• Implementing asset protection strategies. Various forms of insurance (such as an
umbrella policy) and trusts can discourage others from attempting to take your wealth
via unfounded lawsuits and similar attacks. Placing assets in the name of someone else,
such as a spouse, may also help build a moat around wealth.

• Shoring up physical protections. The Super Rich often make use of advanced security
and monitoring systems that employ technology such as infrared cameras and sensors.
Some go even further—using biometric devices that allow access based on thumbprints,
facial recognition, iris recognition, etc. Frankly, even setting up a realistic-looking fake
security system can deter most thieves.

The value of stress testing

Another approach—stress testing—can be used to address all three of these concerns.
Health can be stress tested in various ways, of course, to spot potential problems. But so can
financial solutions. In fact, the Super Rich often stress test their wealth plans to determine
whether the strategies are still on track to deliver the expected results, or whether something
has changed that puts those outcomes at risk. Likewise, security professionals can stress
test people’s personal security measures (such as alarm systems) to see if they’re up to the
task.

Implications for all of us

To varying degrees, families who are not Super Rich can use many of the same approaches
to dealing with these types of fears and challenges.

For example, concierge medicine is becoming increasingly cost-effective and available to
a broader array of people. Likewise, many high-caliber financial professionals serve the
“merely affluent.” And stress testing can be implemented by a variety of professionals and
specialists in many different areas.

Bringing Super Rich approaches to your issues can potentially allow you to conquer your
fears and achieve results you never thought possible—enabling you and the people you
care about most to live great lives.