On Wednesday 23rd September 2015, a group of leading communications experts gathered at Farrer & Co for a dinner debate on ‘What is the most important thing in handling the reputations of (U)HNWIs in the age of digital disruption?’

The discussion, chaired by Julian Pike, with guest speakers Michael Farrant, Project Associates and Paul Blanchard, CEO PR started by looking at the basic definition of a UHNWI (Ultra High Net Worth Individual) and how they achieved this status. Today, 65% of UNHWIs are self made, 19% are so through inherited wealth and 16% have inherited their wealth but grown it.

There are over 200,000 UNHWIs in the world today who have a combined wealth of just under 30 trillion USD. 88% of UHNWIs are men.

To give colour and context to the debate, Question and Retain (Q&R) pulse checked the wider communications community for their views on ‘What is the most important thing in handling the reputations of (U)HNIWIs in the age of digital disruption. The results were as follows:

60% Preparing for a crisis in times of calm

30% Establishing the right culture and building trust within the family/advisory circle

0%  Proactively managing the crisis, to include making (public) admissions if appropriate

10% None of the above

After a review of the findings, guests at the dinner made the following observations:

  • The need for the four P’s when managing UHNWIs – preparation, planning, procedures and prevention
  • Warren Buffett maintains that is takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it
  • The families of UHNWIs do not believe they face the same sort of issues as the everyday citizen. They are also bound by the jurisdictions they come from and also, the media environments that come with these
  • Being proactive is critical – it is really important to make hay while the sun shines, to be seen above the radar, to be more transparent
  • Part of the challenge is persuading patriots and matriarchs that they need to be part of the debate
  • We are still learning and it is an evolving process in terms of navigating and managing the digital world and maintain trust between agency and client
  • The reality is you have to act quickly in the online world, Twitter is quick to whip up complaints and people enjoy sharing salacious gossip
  • Google search functionality is a challenge in terms of how positive content ranks against the negative
  • A lot of UHNWIs don’t handle pressure well and it is a burden of time for them to be distracted by negative press
  • Excessive due diligence is required on all clients who need to be open to the idea that people will be looking at you
  • Usually UHNWIs are totally unprepared in how to manage their personal comms

The remainder of the discussion then focussed on sharing anecdotes and counsel on how to deal with the ‘google’ effect and educate UHNWIs on the online world.

For more details on Q&R events please contact us via @qandr or call 07790 216 441 and speak to Annabel Dunstan.