Numbers Don’t Lie

Thanks to the economic reforms established by the Aquino administration, the Philippines has metamorphosed from the region’s underperformer to its new economic tiger. From 2010 to 2016, the Philippines pulled-away with an average growth rate of 6.2%, one of the highest in Asia and the nation’s best performance in four decades. The strong economy generated massive wealth for a select group of individuals.

The conglomerates and their owners are the first to benefit from times of robust economic activity. Immediate access to capital and a corporate machinery have put them in the best position to take advantage of the many business opportunities that abound.

The entrepreneurs are the second to benefit. Those who risked personal capital, effort, and time into a business venture have found success on the back of favorable economic conditions. They are our new breed of millionaires and those who drive the market for luxury goods, travel, and prestige properties.

It is said that roughly a million families control the entire economy worth $330 billion. Indeed, in our midst are extremely wealthy people. In fact, 11 Filipinos have made it to Forbes’s exclusive (and elusive) list of dollar-billionaires. Trailing them are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneur-millionaires growing in wealth, year after year.

Unfortunately, it takes time for the benefits of the economy to trickle down to the rest of society. It is not unfair — it is simply how a free market economy works. Government’s pro-poor policies should help this along.

This piece is not about the inequitable distribution of wealth. I’ll save that for another time. Rather, it is about how the wealthy live their lives and spend their money.

Those with serious money are different from you and I.

To them, prestige cars like Audis, Mercedes Benzes, and Range Rovers are not a luxuries, they are simply the norm for transportation. Merchandise from Louis Vuitton, Tod’s, and Gucci are not brands that make a statement. Rather, they are symbols of aspiration which they neither want or need and frankly, can do without. Travel to Hong Kong, Thailand, and the United States is not an adventure but a nonevent, sometimes even a chore. In other words, the symbols we normally associate with the rich are not exactly what make them tick.

For high net worth individuals, true luxury comes in the form of unique experiences. Experiences like having the first view of Annie Leibovitz latest portraits in New York City; going on a private tour inside the Teotihuacan Pyramids with a doctor of archeology; attending a retreat of serene meditation with the Dalai Lama; taking a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 for a spin on the Nuremberg; or being invited to a charity ball hosted by Emmanuel and Brigette Macron. Experiences like these cannot be had with money alone. It requires access to inside information and the connections to make it happen.

For 16 years, a London-based concierge service called, Quintessentially, has been organizing amazing experiences for CEOs, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and VIPs. The organization is composed of 2,000 employees spread across 65 countries, all of whom work with the solitary mission of fulfilling requests of their discriminating members, no matter how mundane or outrageous. They are trained to deal with people with extraordinary needs and who are also very demanding.

Requests can be as banal as finding a dog walker for the afternoon or as seemingly impossible as booking a private jet at the last minute. On one occasion, the concierge service even arranged to close Times Square in New York City just so one of its members could propose to his girlfriend.

Quintessentially works on a membership basis. Those fortunate enough to be a part of the exclusive group are looked after by a professional lifestyle manager. Not only do they exist to take care of the member’s needs, they are also trained to anticipate them. Requests can be made anytime of the day and anywhere in the world. Lifestyle Managers are duty-bound to deliver, if not the principal request, then perhaps a better alternative.

Lifestyle Managers are empowered by Quintessentially’s worldwide network of contacts, partners, and merchants whom they access through cloud technology. With everything taken care of, members gain two of the most precious commodities money cannot buy — time and peace of mind.

The beauty of Quintessentially’s service is that it is not confined to only lifestyle concerns. Sure, they are a master in scoring tickets to sporting or entertainment spectacles, arranging rare travel itineraries, and getting invited to exclusive events — but Quintessentially’s services are also used for the practical side of life.

For instance, numerous members have used the service to arrange private interviews for their children in their chosen universities. They are also used to book urgent appointments with medical specialists, even if there is a waiting list. Insiders agree that Quintessentially is the world’s greatest “fixer.”

The concierge service comes handy especially for those who travel often. It is like having a personal assistant at your beck and call, regardless of where you are in the world. Global personalities like Richard Branson, David Beckham, and Mark Zuckerberg have benefitted from Quintesentially services for years. They are the best kept secret of the scandalously rich.

Quintessentially is now in Manila. Its presence in the country is a testament to the nation’s growing prosperity.


Andrew J. Masigan is an economist.