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Value Creation Blog

4 Reasons I Hate The Term “High Net Worth”

Posted by Josh Patrick

JargonI was skiing recently and on the ride up the term “high net worth person” came up.  I immediately and forcefully said, “I hate that term.”  I’ve been wondering why I reacted that strongly and came up with some of the following reasons:

High net worth is jargon.  I’ve always been unhappy any time jargon sneaks into a conversation.  I know that I would not be happy if I was referred to as a high net worth person and I assume those that are also don’t really like that moniker.

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High net worth isn’t anyone.  When you say high net worth you are assumedly talking about someone with financial means.  If your market place is working with those with financial means then be more specific about who it is you want to serve.

High net worth puts a target on your back.  I know that I don’t like to walk around with a target on my back and assume that you don’t either.  If we say we work with high net worth people we aren’t saying whom we are working with.  Instead, we are saying what one of the qualifications for working with a particular group of people is.

If you only have the qualification of high net worth as the type of person you serve then you have no one that you’re working with.  The number of people with financial means is a large one.  Some of these people have liquid assets, but many are illiquid.  Although they might fit into the definition of high net worth, they wouldn’t fit the definition of a great client for many financial advisors.

High net worth doesn’t say what you really mean.  I believe the financial services business has developed the term high net worth because they don’t want to say what they really mean. 

In my opinion what they really mean is a wealthy person.  I’ve always wondered why we don’t say what we mean.  If those we’re talking with don’t know what wealthy means they don’t understand what high net worth means.  I suggest you be more specific; just say people who have more than x dollars in liquid assets or net worth.  Now we’re starting to be specific and people we’re speaking with might understand what we really mean.

Too often we believe others understand what our jargon means.  The meaning of any communication is the way it’s received.  The more that we can keep jargon out of our daily language, the better chance we have of others understanding what we mean and what we want.

What are your jargon triggers?  More importantly, why are they triggers for you and what are you doing to change the language you and others use?

Josh Patrick

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

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Topics: for business owners, communication, wealth management, wealth, private business owners

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