How can a millionaire not know what she's worth?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
James Baldwin, the American writer, once said that money was exactly like sex: you thought of little else if you didn't have it and thought of other things if you did. The comment, made before the era of sports multi-millionaires and rock 'n' roll hyperstars, appears particularly apt in the current performance arena. Today the best top-spin forehand has to be allied to a top "client financial services professional"; as the case of Sting's missing millions suggests, the best pop composer needs to be familiar with rhythm 'n' royalties, rock 'n' recession-proof investments.

In the music industry all of Britain's top 20 earners disclose annual incomes above pounds 1m. Four earn more than pounds 12m in any year. Elton John's rock'n bankroll earned him pounds 17.7m in the last money charts. Happenstance Ltd has one employee: Elton John. Since 1989 he has also been the sole employee of J Bondi Ltd, with other income from William A Bong Ltd. All indications are that since a well publicised fracas over royalties in the early part of his career, Mr John has taken on board the general wisdom once espoused by Spike Milligan: "Money," said the Goon, "can't buy friends, but it can buy you a better class of enemy."

Like musicians, the world's best sports stars are among the highest earners. Steffi Graf, Nigel Mansell, Andre Agassi, Eric Cantona, Nick Faldo and others all have the kind of incomes most countries' finance ministers would be happy to juggle with.

One leading sports management consultant says that "client financial services" would normally be offered to new recruits to the earnings super- league. The business-speak of the sports industry is now far from anything to be found in a sports dictionary. Talk is all financial planning, high net worth, loss leaders for potential new stars, contract negotiations. "Each client is different," says our consultant. "Some are not at all interested in business or finance. Some appear to care, but don't. Some know everything and prefer their finances managed separately."

But is money, dosh, filthy lucre the motivator? "No" is the stark reply. And is it possible, believable, that someone at the highest peak of their sport, cannot know what they are worth? "I could completely believe that was possible," he says.