Re-thinking Language Of Wealth

Editorial Staff April 12, 2024

Re-thinking Language Of Wealth

In this webinar conversation, involving the UHNW Institute, Family Wealth Report, and Strategic Philanthropy, the "language of wealth" was discussed. It addresses how those with great wealth can be misrepresented, or subject to undeserved criticism, and how the industry can or should handle these issues.

In this webinar, Family Wealth Report’s group editor Tom Burroughes recently joined Michael Maslansky, CEO of his eponymous firm, maslansky + partners, and author of The Language of Trust, to talk about the language used to describe wealthy individuals and families.

The webinar was hosted and organized by the UHNW Institute, with which FWR is exclusive media partner. The education program supporter of the webinar was Strategic Philanthropy

The industry arguably has a serious problem: Terms such as “The One Per Cent” or worse, create an image of people who are cut off from wider society, disdainful or ignorant of certain concerns, and who don’t typically deserve their riches. Amid different political flavors of populism and criticism, such language also sets the stage for assaults on such wealth, both from senses of injustice (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) and to less laudable sources, such as envy and resentment. 

This matters. It matters because if one treats other humans as part of an “Other group” from whom it is legitimate to confiscate, and to harass and vilify, then this spells serious trouble for an open market economy, regardless of specific details. The wealth management industry cannot stand apart from this situation – it can and must constructively engage in framing the conversation, going beyond  enthusiasms for philanthropy or ESG to an even more fundamental understanding of what the issues are. 

Burroughes and Maslansky ranged for more than an hour across this terrain. Audience members also voiced their views, including Jim Grubman, PhD, of Family Wealth Consulting, who is chair of the Content and Curriculum Committee in the UHNW Institute; Susan Winer, co-founder and principal, Strategic Philanthropy, and Jamie McLaughlin, CEO of J H McLaughlin & Co, a consultant to the wealth sector, and on the board of directors of the Institute.

Tom Burroughes: I greatly enjoyed this conversation with Michael and the audience.This issue about language and positioning is critical for the wealth sector in the US and around the world. I intend to continue writing and speaking on this topic. Along with the Institute, I see part of FWR’s mission to speak on behalf of a sector that at times is hesitant to put its “head above the parapet.”

As always, we welcome feedback, and if you want to comment to FWR, email

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