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The Fascinating World of Celebrity Money Handlers

Oprah has not been inside a bank in 29 years. Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t know her ATM pin. Serena Williams tried to deposit some million dollar checks in a bank’s drive-thru. Such stories go viral but define the unconventional ways celebrities interact with money. Personal assistants are cash handlers for many celebrities, a job devoid of any Hollywood glamour. The longer someone has been famous, the less they remember doing menial tasks for themselves. They have expectations they think are reasonable, but you feel that you’re adult-babysitting.

Why Money /Business Managers?

Creator: Moyo Studio | Credit: Getty Images

This is where experts with in-depth knowledge of film-making or music Industry or sports, come in. Working with some of the biggest stars, experts try to get the most out of their dollars, a talent most stars and artists often lack. What business managers do well, is to manage the money managers to ensure they do their job and get their clients, a good return. Money managers look after investment portfolios, while business managers work broadly with clients’ financial concerns such as contacting stockbrokers about investment decisions, and negotiate major deals from real estate to cars.

Mundane Routine Tasks

Business managers and their teams carry out all mundane financial tasks, from paying bills and checking and keeping track of clients’ expenses. Business managers have issued credits cards to assistants for work expenses, like takeout meals and frequently delegate big financial chores such as visiting a public notary, to unload the boss’s vehicle at CarMax. They keep the boss’s name anonymous due to professional concerns. Certain celebs like Oprah and Ellen never bother getting cash out for themselves. Some celebs arrange with the bank to deliver cash on a weekly basis through bonded messengers or a trusted staff-member gets it.

Avoiding Money Woes

reator: Doucefleur | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The less sophisticated get into much trouble. Johnny Depp made headlines when he sued ex-business managers at The Management Group, alleging misuse of funds. Claiming that Depp was responsible for his financial mess,TMG counter sued, claiming extravagant expenses exceeding $3 million to shoot Hunter Thompson’s ashes out of a cannon, $75 million on 14 residences, and a monthly wine budget of $30,000. TMG warned the actor about his reckless spending. Business Managers aim to educate clients through monthly reports and situation analysis. But many stars have been duped out of a lot of cash in collecting Chinese art, without knowing about the market. They thought they were investing, but only followed a whim and wasted much money. Celeb clients have specific buttons for purchases they find hard to resist, whether it’s land, horses, or fine wines.

Handling Financial Strategy

Creator: Natee Meepian | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many of Hollywood’s reigning elite need to hand over financial strategy and payment of minor expenses to professionals. Most celebs are not savvy about complex business transactions relating to mortgage rates on loans, rates of return on their investments, and expenditure implications on their tax brackets as they really focus on creative processes. Experts can rescue them from bad situations and enable saving money. But handlers too can get burned. The assistant working for a neurotic director ended up paying $1,200 out of her own pocket which hasn’t been reimbursed a year later, despite reminders, calling and emailing the actor’s business manager. Still, she wants to be paid back.

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