Caroline Garnham, Family Bhive
Guildford born entrepreneur Caroline Garnham has launched an exclusive club that caters specifically for the UK’s super rich. Emily Davis quizzes her
You know how it is. You’ve got a few billion in the bank and you need someone you can trust to help you keep it that way.
Enter Caroline Garnham. The enterprising networker, originally from Guildford, has recently created a website that connects the UK’s wealthiest with all the advisors they need to manage their assets. Originally refered to as “Facebook for the fortunate”, Family Bhive works off the principle that the rich are a minority who need greater tax protection and support.
As you can imagine, the reception to the site has not always been entirely positive. But grilling Caroline on some of the issues she feels most passionately about, I find her answers to be informed and articulate, while Caroline herself is pleasant.
And so, doubting but ready to appreciate a good point made well, I sit tight and listen as Caroline puts forward her case for the super rich…
Are you concerned that Britain’s rich have doubled their wealth in 5 years, yet 1 in 5 of the UK population live below our official poverty line?
The majority of the world’s wealthiest are self-made, most came from humble upbringings and have suffered hardship and deprivation. Most people in this country work 9 to 5, the ultra-high net worth; self-made millionaires work 24/7.
Remember the opening scenes of the Godfather which starts at his daughter’s wedding. The Godfather stops working only to dance with his wife and give away his daughter, he then goes back to work, while the wedding carries on. The reason why the rich are getting richer is because they work so hard. With regard to the poor, my advice would be, there is now no class barrier to becoming wealthy, becoming rich is open to us all. However, for those who do not have the determination or stamina to become rich, by tolerating the rich they are more likely to get a job and live a better life.
In a nutshell, give us your case for the protection of the UK’s most wealthy.
When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown was zealous in stamping out any form of tax avoidance. We have more tax legislation now than any other country in the world and we are collecting more tax than ever before.
To give an example of the tax being collected from the our country’s wealthiest people, the top 1% of the population pay 30% of our income tax. Our 104 billionaires between them spend £16 billion in the UK, which generates over £3 billion in VAT, and it is estimated that they employ millions of domestic staff, to whom they pay wages and this is also subject to UK income tax.
What were your thoughts on appearing on the Jeremy Vine show last week? Do you think you argued your case well?
The feedback from text messages, telephone calls, and conversations following the Jeremy Vine show was that I was polite, well informed and did not rise to issues which were brought up by Chris Bambery, a leading socialist, that did not appear to be relevant, like soup kitchens and the independence of Scotland.
What would your advice be to wealthy people who are concerned about the future of their cash?
Wealth, like a garden seat, is subject to entropy. This is the word used to describe the natural decline in everything, if left alone. A garden seat, unless kept in good repair and maintenance will eventually rot and fall apart. Wealth must be kept an eye on, reports need to be read and advisers need to be kept up to the mark, if not wealth, like the garden seat will eventually rot and disappear.
Are your most affluent clients especially demanding or no more so than anyone else?
When I was a leading private client lawyer I worked with some of the best-off people in the world. These people often have professional staff to which they delegate the detail. They were a delight to work with. Clients who I found the most frustrating to work with are those who are demanding, but don’t understand the issues and don’t listen to advice.
Tell us about growing up in Guildford.
It was a wonderful place to grow up. As a child I could walk out of the back garden gate onto the Merrow Golf course where, on a sunny day, I would lie on the grass and listen to the skylarks. When it snowed I would take my toboggan out of our back garden gate up the hill and whizz down from the green of the first tee and up the other side. It was a perfect toboggan ride for us kids, safe and enormous fun.
In your opinion, has the Conservative government done much to support Britain’s wealthiest?
I do not believe any Government does enough to support Britain’s wealthiest. Like those on undeserved benefits, they are a minority that everyone, especially politicians and journalists can score some easy votes and extra readers. The wealthy do not have a union, they have no voice, and they are a minority, so their vote hardly counts. The wealthy are tempting to kick as a political football, because politicians have votes to win and journalists have papers to sell.
For further information about Caroline Garnham, visit familybhive.com