Immigrants and Natives to Wealth: Understanding Clients Based on Their Wealth Origins

Grubman, James; Jaffe, Dennis T.
July 2007
Journal of Financial Planning;Jul2007, Vol. 20 Issue 7, p54
Academic Journal
• The origin of clients' wealth leads to differences in their personal adjustment, parenting, attitudes, behavior, how they want to pass on their wealth. Financial planners should be sensitive to the origins of clients' wealth in order to facilitate understanding, provide support, and guide choices about life planning and intergenerational communication. • Traditionally we think of individual wealth as "old money" (inherited) and "new money" (acquired). Another valuable way of looking at it is from the perspective of those "native born" to wealth and those who travel to affluence like "immigrants" to a new culture. • Those who acquire wealth such as through the development and sale of a business typically have a more fully formed sense of self before coming to wealth. They carry their "old country" values inside them as they experience transition and transformation. They may, for example, worry about becoming the very stereotype of the rich as spoiled, self-absorbed, shallow, and snobbish. • Those native-born to wealth must develop their sense of identity out of a culture of affluence that is sometimes antithetical to that effort. While they may seek ways to grow the family wealth, above all they worry about preserving it. Both immigrants and native born worry about how to teach their children to handle wealth responsibly. • Even more challenging to a financial planner is working with cross-class couples one native-born to wealth, the other an immigrant. • This paper presents two prototypical wealthy couples--one who acquired wealth in their lifetime and one raised with wealth from childhood. It then presents ways advisors can inquire into these issues in the client-relationship process.


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