The rich people who hate money. By Janine Starks.


OPINION:  Rich and phobic. Could it be possible that you're wealthy, successful and have a phobia about money?

It sounds preposterous, but hear me out. Research shows almost one in six affluent people are classified as "phobic" towards investments.

People become wealthy via all sorts of methods. There are those who work hard, start a business or become a well-paid professional in fields such as medicine, law, IT or engineering. Some inherit and others do it under their own steam.

However you personally got there, you knew something about money. At a minimum you knew how to charge handsomely, or mastered the art of expansion with cost control. You could be a sales and marketing maestro or a highly regarded expert in your field.

While you obviously know your stuff, none of it makes you an investment expert or gives you the skills for dealing with emotions around personal financial planning.

Acknowledging your own money personality is a good first step. Of the nine personality types researched by American author Russ Alan Prince, over half of affluent people fall into three categories: The family steward, the phobic and the independent.

The phobic is perhaps one of the most interesting, because it takes some courage to admit you don't want to learn about investing or you just don't like it.

Even more interesting is a financial adviser won't win you over by trying to educate on the finer points of bond price movements, dividend yields and the efficient frontier. A phobic wants to delegate and trust an adviser.

While you obviously know your stuff, none of it makes you an investment expert or gives you the skills for dealing with emotions around personal financial planning.

With 17 per cent of wealthy people being phobic the lesson is you are not alone. You can be an intelligent high-earner and not have the inclination.

So what do you do? Get someone else to look after it. Find areas of the process you do enjoy. Use your adviser to plan life events such as education funds, a savings rate, income levels in retirement and when assets will be sold or purchased. All of these things are more important than the technicalities of investing.

Leading your family

The most common type of money personality amongst affluent people (21 per cent) is the family steward. The sorter.

This is the person with a wise head that everyone is drawn to. They might be a sounding board and sense-check for others. They have strong feelings of family responsibility and are often conservative and measured.

Their success means others have a lot of respect for them. But they do get leaned on. Often ending up as the lender (or gifter) of last resort, mopping up financial problems in a wider family unit.

Low investment knowledge

The three most common groups, the steward, phobic and independent also tend to have lower investment knowledge. That is no criticism.

These are successful people who spend their time in other areas.

Financial advisers don't have any expectation that you understand technical concepts, or that you know what a financial plan involves.

Knowing what you don't know

A skill of wealthy people is often that simple little concept of knowing what you don't know. A good indicator it's in abundance is when you feel like the stupidest person in your own boardroom, or in awe of the talent in colleagues who surround you. You got to where you are by the power of a team. Your personal life should be no different.

No matter what personality type you are or how high your investment knowledge is, financial planning is not something you attack alone.

Which money personality are you?

21 per cent Family Steward: Focus on taking care of the people they love. They care about education, their children becoming hard-working and successful and passing on an inheritance.

17 per cent Phobic: Doesn't like investing, doesn't want to learn about it or understand it. They like to delegate and have trust.

13 per cent Independent: Wants financial freedom and flexibility to do what they want, when they want. Money is just a means to this end.

12 per cent Anonymous: Very private people who don't like sharing their financial position. Confidentiality is everything.

10 per cent Mogul: Enjoys the power, influence and control that money can give.

8 per cent VIP: Enjoys the possessions and social respect that comes from money. Prestige is important.

8 per cent Accumulator: Saves more than they spend, doesn't show their wealth and might live below their means as money makes them feel more secure.

6 per cent The Gambler: Wants to beat the market and likes the excitement. It's all about the returns.

5 per cent The Innovator: Likes things that are technically clever, new funds, and trading methods. They veer to complex strategies.

Source: Russ Alan Prince

Janine Starks is a financial commentator with expertise in banking, personal finance and funds management. Opinions in this column represent her personal views.  They are general in nature and are not a recommendation, opinion or guidance to any individuals in relation to acquiring or disposing of a financial product.  Readers should not rely on these opinions and should always seek specific independent financial advice appropriate to their own individual circumstances.