What it’s like to be a ‘fixer’ for the super rich
You might have to go undercover on a yacht
When money is no object, normal standards of acceptability do not exist.
Working for the sort of people for whom money does not prohibit anything, is an opaque world of helping them cut lines at Disneyland and shutting down entire portions of the Louvre.
“One client asked specifically for Mandarin scented pillow cases because that’s how she likes to sleep,” says Kellie Habgood, a 25-year old ‘lifestyle management director’. Her role is to cater to every (absurd) whim. “I had to go out and get some at night, in a foreign country, working on limited sleep, looking after their children,” Kellie said. “Nothing is too big of an ask.”
Many in the profession can count royalty as their former employers. Kellie used to work for the King of Qatar, the only client she is willing to name. “It’s very varied, from PA work to nanny stuff to organising super yachts for celebrities and wealthy clients.”, said Kellie, who was born in New Zealand but now lives in London. And her clients are all London-based, living exactly where you’d expect. “Notting Hill, Battersea, Richmond, Kensington. Where you think people who are rich would be.” Clients are demanding, asking for events and luxury transport wherever they go – the highs of New York Fashion Week and the muddy lows of Glastonbury.
When you’re wealthy enough to afford an entire fleet of staff, you’ve also got the money to pay somebody to spy on them. One of Kellie’s favourite moments on the job is when she got to “do 007 style detective work” at a yacht party, as she put it. “I was going undercover to make sure the staff are doing what they should be doing. I’d be there as a normal girl or a nanny. We had to make sure people were not doing drugs, drinking or drinking on the job – asking questions about where they’re heading to next.” Apparently giving away a VIP’s identity or their destination is a fireable offence.
The business of fixers and elite PAs works by word of mouth. One client hears that you’re trustworthy and can get things done – so they call you up. It also helps if you know your way around the deck of a 250ft yacht. Kellie explained “If I did work for the editor of Vogue, for example, she might know someone in the fashion industry who needed help. The thing is with the clients I work for, trust is important. Hiring someone completely random isn’t what they do.”
At it’s worst the job sounds like surreal and hectic: being on call 24/7, working to tight demands and babysitting the children of the rich and famous, which can even be dangerous. “The kids can stay up until whenever they want in certain cultures,” Kellie said. “Then they’re up at the crack of dawn, very tired and moody. You wonder why they’re throwing plates across the suite at you.”
And at it’s best? Staying in “outrageous places” like a top floor hotel suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower, living a life almost as glamorous as their clients. All the while making sure their pillow smells of the exactly the right essential oil. Because that’s what’s important.