Expert Advice – Lifestyle
2012 Advice Lifestyle
1. Paying attention to the people who work in your home is an increasingly important task, warns Teresa Leigh, founder and CEO of Teresa Leigh Household Risk Management. “The average affluent household has a minimum of 75 vendors and subcontractors in its lifetime,” she notes. “The homeowners are out creating the money, and may have no idea who the contractor in their bedroom is.”
Leigh cautions against interviewing prospective employees in your home, because though most potential employees are hardworking, honest people, why expose yourself to a security risk?
Leigh urges clients to review invoices meticulously, as the difficult economy has led to an increase in double and triple billing. It is also spurring desperate job seekers to “romance—not just embellish—their resumes,” making up entire work experiences, Leigh says.
2. Paul Viollis, Worth’s security columnist and CEO of the consulting firm Risk Control Strategies, predicts that the new year will see “an increase in home invasion and burglary of the affluent, cyber attacks on family offices, and threats to Wall Street and financial firm executives.”
To counter these grim consequences of a prolonged bad economy, Viollis recommends “perimeter-based alarm systems which notify you when an intruder has stepped onto your property.”
For online security, Viollis suggests not just the usual precautions, like using an encrypted firewall, but also “turning off Bluetooth on smart phones to prevent hackers from uploading your information, which only takes about a minute.”
Finally, for those heading overseas, Viollis notes a rise in anti-American sentiment. “Be careful about what you wear and who you use as drivers. All Americans are perceived to be wealthy, and perception is all that counts.”
3. For Katja Zigerlig, vice president of fine art, wine and jewelry insurance for the Chartis Private Client Group, 2012 is the time to take stock of valuable art and jewelry. “Dramatic increases in precious metal prices warrant updated appraisals to insure and protect your valuables,” she says. Also, Zigerlig notes, make sure jewelry, wine, art and other valuable collectibles are insured under a separate “private collections” policy, because “a homeowner’s policy doesn’t provide appropriate protection for collectibles under ‘general contents.’”
Zigerlig predicts an increase for 2012 in collectors “commissioning site-specific artworks for their properties” and presenting their own collections as museums open to the public.
To help navigate one or more collections, Zigerlig recommends software like ArtSystems or Art-Vault, which allow you to “track exhibition and lending history for art work, and note when the last appraisals were.
4. James Gersten, president of Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group, which manages several of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants, hopes that 2012 will signal the end of “supersized portions, sweet martinis and service station introducing themselves by name” and the beginning of “more accessible luxury.”
For Gersten, accessible luxury means restaurants that are “elegant but soulful rather than slick, moving away from the Las Vegas-ification of dining.” Customers will demand, and restaurants provide, more responsible sourcing of food.
“We’re also going to see smaller plates and portions as the United States catches up with what’s happening in the rest of the world,” Gersten says. “It’s more social and more healthful.”
Among Gersten’s picks for the new year: Tertulia in New York and the Atlanta gastropub Holeman & Finch Public House. “You don’t normally talk about great food in Atlanta, but it’s just delicious.”
5. For Dominique Callimanopulos, founder and president of Elevate Destinations, a high-end agency specializing in bespoke philanthropic and eco-minded vacations, 2012 will be the year of meaningful family trips. “Traveling with your family and volunteering for part of your vacation strengthens family values and creates a legacy for your children and grandchildren,” says Callimanopulos.
But virtue needn’t preclude comfort. “Some of the most effective and community-oriented ecolodges are high-end properties,” she says. Callimanopulos recommends carbon offsetting your flights “through reputable organizations such as Sustainable Travel International.”
Another way to make a trip memorable and to provide a positive impact is to donate to a respected and relevant NGO, including organizations such as the Global Fund for Women, Landesa, The Ocean Foundation, Plan International and Water for People.
“Consider contributing to a project before you visit. Many organizations can build a school or a well with your donation that you can visit once you’re in the country,” Callimanopulos advises.
6. Paul James, global brand leader for the Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection and the St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, says luxury travelers in 2012 should book early and be open-minded. “The great vacation resorts enjoyed very high occupancies last summer, with a lot of customers ending up in second-choice destinations. I can’t see this pattern changing in the new year,” James explains.
Another suggestion: Combine work with pleasure. “We’re noticing an increase in family travel, but much of this travel is for work. Family travel destinations are expanding. You’re no longer limited to the Caribbean.”
As for underrated destinations, James predicts that “Wales is about to have a moment. I think it taps into the macro trend for indigenous experiences. It offers good food. And it’s about the power of being the fi rst—nobody has been to Wales.”
Wherever they go, travelers should make more frequent use of hotel butlers and concierges, James says. “From having snacks prepared for your children to having the concierge plan an itinerary for you, they can really make a difference.”
7. Bev Taylor, founder of the college admissions consultancy Ivy Coach in Manhattan, hopes never to read another application essay about community service in Guatemala. “Many affluent students write about how they want to help those less fortunate, so they travel to build homes, and then they fly back in first class, when they could be doing something for the needy in their own backyard,” she points out.
Taylor also cautions that applicants and their families should avoid revealing too much wealth. “If dad is CEO of Google, that should be on the application because he would be a potential graduation speaker,” Taylor says. “If dad is a CEO of a midsize company, play down the title because it’s important not to come off as entitled.”
Another important tip, Taylor says, is to apply to as many schools as possible. “Kids used to apply to six or eight colleges, but now many are applying to 20,” she says. “Years ago, colleges were looking to accept; now they’re looking to reject.”
8. Tim Ferguson, founder and managing partner of the urban enterprise-focused merchant bank Next Street, thinks 2012 will see a major increase in mission-based investment. “In the last few years, some thoughtful high net worth individuals have used their assets to generate a market-based return by investing in things like affordable housing and small businesses,” he says.
Ferguson says that would-be philanthropic investors should start by reading Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ publications on impact-based investing and the joint research publication from J.P. Morgan and the Rockefeller Foundation (available at rockpa.org and rockefellerfoundation.org).
They should also familiarize themselves with the Global Impact Investing Network and the Global Impact Investing Rating System, which measure funds’ performance. “Until recently, most money has been focused on the microfinance movement internationally. I think there’s a desire to bring some money back to the United States.” (Ferguson’s Next Street is about to launch a fund focused on providing loans to small businesses.)
Investors can contribute not only monetarily but also through expertise. “Small businesses need help on the advisory side, not just the capital side,” Ferguson says.