In our first book, The Legacy of Inherited Wealth: Interviews with Heirs, we interviewed two inheritors who discovered ways to work with other inheritors. One of these used the pseudonym “Wendy Johnson” in the book. You can find her contact information in the resource section of this web site; her real name is Sally Donaldson. Sally has a PhD in clinical psychology and practices in New York City. She has been in private practice, one which includes a number of inheritors, for twenty years.
An only child, Sally inherited small amounts from her grandmother and her father. On the scale of wealth her inheritance was on the low end, but she didn’t know that. In the ‘60s, when she was in college, her annual income was $6,000. “By New York standards, that’s not very much money,” she observes, “but I thought I was a goddamn Rockefeller. I had no sense of proportion.”
The point I am coming to in a roundabout way is that those who have inherited wealth, like Sally, are well suited to listen to, empathize with, and guide other inheritors. She has included inheritors in her practice, although she does not advertise herself or have a web site.
I have known Sally for 46 years and have a high level of confidence in her accomplishments.
The second inheritor who developed a unique way to work with inheritors—women only—is Barbara Stanny, born Barbara Block. Her father was the R of the well known corporation H and R Block. (His first name was Richard.) Barbara, now sixty-six, grew up in a very sheltered family. This was typical for wealthy girls in her age group, myself included. Her story in The Legacy of Inherited Wealth begins:
“I found out I was wealthy when I was twenty-one. My parents flew me out to Las Vegas … in a private jet. We had a suite at Caesar’s Palace, and we were sitting at breakfast eating lox and bagels. My father showed me a document, and it turned out to be my trust. He told me, ‘You are a very rich woman.’ All I know is that it was a great feeling. But beyond that it didn’t mean anything to me; it just meant that I was safe. I was going to be taken care of.”
When Barbara was growing up, her parents didn’t talk with her about money. “I understand now,” she says, “ that they were living in the days when you didn’t explain money to little girls. … I didn’t know how much I had until right before I got divorced.” Trusting and naïve, Barbara fell in love with the handsome and charming David, and she let him manage her money. She wasn’t paying attention to what was happening to her money because she thought she was “safe.” But David was investing it in high-risk investments—essentially gambling, and most of Barbara’s fortune had disappeared before she realized what was going on. “I would go to the ATM machine, and there would be no money in my account.”
She was in shock, and that motivated her to learn about investing. “I said to myself, ‘I gave away my power, I gave away my responsibility, and now I’ve got to start understanding money.’” She found reliable who taught her what she needed to know, and she was an eager student.
Over a period of several years Barbara learned a lot. She decided she wanted to devote herself to helping other women, so that what had happened to her didn’t happen to them. She wrote a book called Prince Charming Isn’t Coming: How Women Get Smart about Money. She later wrote four more books. Although her target audience is women, she told me that many men also read her books.
Take a look at Barbara’s web site and you will see the variety of ways Barbara works with women and money. She specializes in high-net-worth women. Her mission is to “motivate women to become financially empowered.” She has a business background, many years’ experience as a journalist, and a masters’ degree in psychology.
Barbara’s work is very specialized; and she is one of a kind. She learned the hard way, which adds to the relevance of what she has to teach others.