Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Ultra High Net Worth!

If you're a part of or even interested in the world of the rich and famous, no doubt you've run across the initials UHNW in magazine articles, blogs, even on Twitter nowadays. But what exactly does that mean?

It stands for Ultra High Net Worth and basically it's tossed around by marketers, advertising agencies and wealth managers when discussing their clients and where to target ads for high-end products. But more and more we hear the term used in other settings to describe the super rich and all the things they're up to. So I thought I might jump in here with some observations.

Here's the breakdown of terms in historical, chronological order:

- The Affluent: Back in the days after World War II, this original term was used to describe someone who owned their own home and cars, and had a hundred-thousand-dollars or more in liquid cash for investments or purchasing expensive goods. ($100,000)

- High Net Worth: Likewise, this term was used to describe someone who had accumulated at least a million dollars in liquid cash to invest or make high-end purchases, and it's still in use today in some circles. ($1,000,000)

- Very High Net Worth:  As wealth grew over the years and people became even richer, this term popped up to describe those who have five-million or more to play around with. ($5,000,000)

- Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW): Around 2007 we first began to hear this term come into play, and it seems to be where we're stuck today. More often than not it's used to describe people with thirty-million-dollars or more to toss around. ($30,000,000)

By saying "stuck" with this term at the moment, it seems to me there's an inherent danger with this type of reductive labeling. The problem is that in the last few decades we've seen Billionaires springing forth all around the globe, with way more spending power than the mere Millionaires.

To cite one example, on a whim a Billionaire can afford to buy and staff a luxury yacht that costs $120,000,000 which the UHNW with only $30,000,000 in the bank couldn't possibly touch, right? And buying a private island for a hundred-million-bucks would be above the price range of the average UHNW - not to mention building a house there, staffing it fully, and adding a small port to accommodate the yacht upon arrival.

So why would advertisers and investment counselors continue to lump all these people under one umbrella at the thirty-million-dollar level, unless they think the UHNW are on their way to becoming billionaires themselves? It's a mystery to me. Sociologically speaking, the term is entirely useless as well. Quite honestly there's no likeness nor linkage whatsoever between the super rich and the lowly millionaires in this world. Comparing a billionaire's interests to the ladder-climbing riff raff is like the apples-to-oranges thing.

Perhaps it's time to have a new category altogether to separate the millionaires from the billionaires, maybe something simple like the Billionaires Net Worth. (BNW). I don't know. It makes sense to me. But then we'd have to dig deeper I guess, to separate the poor billionaires (with only a couple of billion in the bank) from the ones who have seventy billion or more, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. What would we call them? The Ultra High Billionaires Net Worth? (UHBNW)

I thought the terms Super Rich or the One Percent were clear as a bell and pretty much described who we're talking about. In fact, in his New York Times bestseller Richistan, the famed Wall Street journalist Robert Frank calls them the 'Absurdly Rich' which pretty much suffices, don't you think?

But the term Ultra High Net Worth seems to be chic nowadays, gaining in popularity, and it may be around for awhile - limited in scope though it might be. And who knows, the UHNW might just make it up to the billionaire level, right?

I myself belong to a class that might be called the Ultra High Net Poor, although steadily climbing toward the lowly Affluent level at any day now - give or take five years.

Dammit, this has been way too long! I get carried away sometimes, you know? But has it shed some light, or did I just put you to sleep? In any case and as always, thanks for stopping by tonight.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good God! Today's the Beginning of Lent!

I was at the gym today, minding my own business, when this nice looking girl climbed up on the treadmill next to me. We exchanged smiles, as gym people do, and I couldn't help noticing a black smudge on her forehead.

Not to be outdone by a girl, I was up-ticking the incline on my machine when it suddenly dawned on me that OMG today is Ash Wednesday!

I don't know how this escaped me this year! Just too much crap going on around here all the time. My employer's new girlfriend is driving me crazy, for one thing. And I'm at odds with the old man almost every day over silly little stuff that needs to be done on the estate.

Over the last few years I've written about Lent more than once. Like in this article "The Truth About Lent".  So I'm not going to go there again or bore you with Catholic guilt.

But honestly, and in spite of the possibility of going to hell, I just can't do it this year! I'm not in the frame of mind and not in the mood to give up anything for Lent. (Unless it's giving up this stupid, frustrating job and moving on to greener pastures!)

If you're doing Lent this season, I'm sure the angels will be on your side and good luck to you! Please forgive me for abandoning the flock, but I just can't do it this time around. (Surely St. Peter has a check list and might forgive that I skipped one damned year, wouldn't you think?)

Anyhow, I hope you had fun last night on Fat Tuesday (which I totally missed!) and that Lent will be kind to you.