Stealth Wealth – Billionaires and Board Shorts

Derek Notman |

Many wealthy people are still grounded and choose to live in a less flashy manner. These affluent individuals hide in plain sight, having a coffee next to you in board shorts, and flip flops without you expecting a thing.

Some are billionaires, some are multi-millionaires.  I know and spend time with both.  I enjoy cups of coffee, travel, and conversations about everything from politics to bourbon with these folks.  Yet one thing is clear, they are not flaunting their wealth.

One of my favorite places is SoCal.  Having spent some time there it is clear there is a lot of money there, but it's more subtle than in Beverly Hills. Sometimes these trends are geographic, but there is also a growing universal trend among millionaires and billionaires to be more discreet. Forget shiny Rolexes and Louis Vuitton handbags — many rich people are now investing more in education, health, privacy, security, and retirement, making stealth wealth the new status symbol.

Luxury lifestyle with privacy on a private terrace

The Value of Privacy and Anonymity

Dripping in diamonds while driving a multimillion-dollar Bugatti may once have been a typical marker of elite status or a luxury lifestyle, but times are changing.  Flaunting material wealth has become less ubiquitous among the ultra-high-net-worth crowd. Instead, they're now spending more than ever on security and privacy trading in hilltop houses for homes in neighborhoods hidden from Google Street View.

Self-made millionaires have a unique way of thinking about themselves and the world around them. Often their values allow them to remain humble and wise along their journey. Being discreet lets them avoid invisible prewritten scripts — these are the assumptions deeply embedded in our society which we don't even realize guide attitudes and behaviors surrounding wealth.

There’s a prescribed notion that if you’re rich, you could possibly be snobby, have obtained your luxury life by being cutthroat or through a trust fund. Those that value anonymity are free from being judged by anything other than their disposition. One way to pay for privacy is to holiday on a private island with few other guests and explore a different kind of luxury instead of simply staying at the most luxurious hotels in the world.

Investing in Education Can Propel Social Mobility

In an era where mass consumption means both the upper and middle class can own the same luxury brands, the affluent are forgoing material goods to invest in immaterial ways. In this evolution of wealth management, showing off is no longer the way to signify having wealth. According to the US Consumer Expenditure Survey data, the top 1% have been spending less on material goods since 2007.

The elite are cementing their status by prizing knowledge and building cultural capital. This inconspicuous consumption consists of attending prestigious institutions and acquiring a top-tier education. This investment reproduces privilege in a way that flaunting luxury never could. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and when expressed, this cultural capital gives a person leverage to climb the social ladder and make connections.

health and wellness in a luxurious wellness retreat

Health and Wellness

Health and wealth have a strong correlation, with discreet self-minted millionaires opting to spend relatively little on beauty products but splurging on exercise. Thus, choosing to preserve their bodies to improve their quality of life.

Elite monthly gym memberships with rigorous application processes are increasing in popularity among those who value their privacy.  Some of these gyms include private entrances and content studios for social-media influencers. These tailor-made gym experiences are more and more sought after as the wealthy shift further toward investing in their health.  

Early Retirement

Early retirement is like a full-time job consisting solely of having fun and socialising – living your best life today and tomorrow. Frugal millionaires are clear about their ambitions to retire early and experience a luxury life of travel, relaxation, hobbies, and new adventures devoid of any work-related stress.

You know the expression slow and steady wins the race? Well, I don’t necessarily believe you need to be slow to win this race. After all, a common shared goal is to retire as early as possible. You do, however, need shrewd wealth management and proper planning to know how to manage generational wealth to bask in indulgences in your retirement. So, enjoy the finer things in life. You’ve earned them, even if you wish to remain discreet about it.

Some billionaires choose to devote their time and finances to different, less materialistic spheres of life that reflect humility and prioritize long-term well-being over short-term notoriety. They live outside of the limelight and enjoy more privacy intrinsic to a high quality of life—trading in luxury sports cars to skate under the radar and embrace stealth wealth. 

So next time you are surfing, chilling on the beach, or at the local coffee shop take a closer look at those around you.  They may just be the wealthiest people you have ever met, hiding in plain site.  And for those of you who are these billionaires in board shorts, rock on!


Derek Notman