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Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Feature Book Review: Other People's Money by Justin Cartwright OPM: 裕福な家族のお金 (ヨーロッパの物語): ジャスティン・カートライト

Ultra High Net Worth families spend a lot, perhaps even more than they should. Top wealth managers in Switzerland, like UBS & Credit Suisse, have moved away from investment banking. They have refocused on private wealth management due to this real need to help wealth preservation for rich families. Private Banking services for the 1% are the next clear trend globally. This book is about one of these rich families and the lifestyle that they lead. OPM is a wealth management term for "Other People's Money" and is still used today.

The plot involves a very old bank, a family office, and the people involved with running that money, not just the deals themselves. The main focus is on the many up and coming rich generations that feel entitled to wealth made by their parents or grandparents. The selfish view seems to be "the money's all in the family, and I deserve all of it!" This is the main story line. 

What world do the super rich in Europe live in? That is what this book describes. It is ultimately a description of a recent period of time post Madoff, post Lehman, and the aftershocks that may be going on now that are being felt by private banks today. It may be fair to say that this book shows what is happening to families in Europe. Similar families in China or Japan should take note as they may soon follow the slippery slope downward. Lessons on better financial habits could be learned. You cannot spend your way into making a fortune, no matter what generation of family wealth you are a part of. That lesson was clear to me, but not some of the characters.

It is pleasant light reading for lazy days by the beach on vacation anywhere, like in the south of France, where it is partly set. It describes the place very well. You certainly learn key insight about what kind of characters work inside a very old private bank. What are their old money customers like? Much is revealed about the attitudes of High Net Worth clients, and their typical actions around entitlement. It is revealing and shows all behavior, both good and bad by this pampered portion of society. 

The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:

1) There is a clear detachment with multi-generational HNW families and their wealth. It is not about any return on capital, but more a return of capital with investments!

2) The South of France does seem to have a large number of British nationals spending away the family office wealth with no end in sight.

3) Keeping hungry economically after financial success has never been easy to families that want to continue past second or third generations of wealth.


It is worth a read if that kind of fiction is what you seek. It is not a fast-paced hard core thriller about the famous financial "City" of London, England. I say this because it touches on the financial world, but does not really live or breath it. It is more of a pleasant fictional novel about people, who happen to be wealthy. I did not mind myself, but financial markets are basically just the scenery around the story, and not intrinsic to it. If that works for you, it is Highly Recommended!

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