Skip to main content

“Affluenza” – The Pitfalls of Inherited Wealth – Part III

By June 4, 2013July 12th, 2023Finance & Wealth Management2 min read

To reinforce the impression of superiority, children are often sent to the finest private prep schools, attend world-renowned universities, travel to areas of the globe most citizens only hear about and are exposed to the many luxuries of wealth their entire lives. This can very easily cause them to believe that they are somehow irrevocably entitled to get precisely what they want when they want it.

Later in life, these children can become managers who crave instant gratification through their work, often leading them to make rash decisions with perilous consequences. Their arrogance may make them difficult to work with, and often they are actively disliked by coworkers, who may be only too ready to resent their status within the company.

Then there’s the flip side: Children filled with guilt over their riches. This is going too far the other way, as those who feel guilty about their easy time of it will often be easily swayed by others because of the fear of being perceived as pampered and demanding. They often lack leadership qualities, feeling they have been handed all their fortunes without effort and aren’t deserving of leadership. These children may go to extraordinary lengths to disguise their wealth and or appear as an Everyman. But in trying to escape who they are, they are not necessarily any happier or better able to lead a family business.

In this age of Internet startups, millionaires who come to work in cut-off and flip-flops are becoming commonplace. Their striving to better relate to employees and others who do not share their wealth is certainly admirable. But an unseemly humble appearance in dress and demeanor by someone who doesn’t come by it naturally can indicate a child so overwhelmed by guilt that he or she is genuinely ashamed of their money and all its implications. This situation can become self-destructive.

To demonstrate their disregard for their riches, they can become dangerously impulsive in risking the large sums of money they have come to resent. Gambling, for instance, is a common addiction among the rich, and it can inflict not only those who are trying to increase their wealth, but those trying to unload their burdensome wealth.

More from this series

“Affluenza” – Part 1
“Affluenza” – Part 2
“Affluenza” – Part 3