When I worked as a financial advisor my office would periodically host “client appreciation” events. Sometimes these would be seminars where a mutual fund manager would be visiting our area and give a ‘state of the market’ update and Q&A, other times there would be no set agenda just good food and some entertainment at a nearby venue. The one thing that was always consistent was that we would always try to have plenty of really good food.
The day after one of these events, a client had an appointment with a co-worker of mine. The client was a retiree in her late 60s with investment account balances of around $5M who had also attended the event the night before. The meeting was scheduled for the late morning and was a general portfolio review.
A few minutes into the appointment, the client started to pull out some food from her bag to snack on while going over her portfolio. My co-worker was floored when he recognized the food to be the same hors d’oeuvres that had been served at the client event the night before! Apparently she had filled up some Ziploc bags and brought some food home from the event. It didn’t surprise me that some of our clients would take things that weren’t intended to be taken home, but it did surprise me that she would bring it out in a meeting with the same person who had invited her to the event who clearly could recognize where it had come from. In the end, I just had to laugh and add it to my list of things I’ve seen millionaires do that you may not expect them to do.
I first read ‘The Millionaire Next Door‘ in college and one part has always stuck with me. The author had gathered a group of millionaires together and offered them $100 to participate in a focus group. Thinking that many of the participants wouldn’t want the money, the option was provided that the money could be donated to their favorite charity. Upon hearing this, one of the millionaire participants loudly proclaimed “I am my favorite charity”. After meeting and working with thousands of millionaire households, this response no longer surprises me. While it may come across as sounding greedy, the reality is that most millionaires I’ve met are actually quite generous, but don’t feel extremely wealthy. In my observation the same frugal tendencies that enable the accumulation of wealth tend to continue long after wealth has been accumulated.