- The needs of wealthy families have evolved drastically since the 1960s because “there’s never been wealth like there is now,” according to Seth Norman Greenberg, vice president of domestic staffing firm Pavillion Agency.
- In the 1960s, wealthy families had one or maybetwo homes, and now they tend to have four or five, Greenberg told Business Insider.
- Certain domestic positions including chambermaids, lady’s maids, and butlers have become obsolete, while others such as personal assistants and estate managers have grown in popularity, he said.
- More and more people are looking to hire stewards for their yachts and private planes.
Wealthy families have always hired staff to run their households, but the types of staff they require have shifted and evolved over the years.
Business Insider spoke to Seth Norman Greenberg, vice president of domestic staffing firm Pavillion Agency, which matches wealthy families to household staff including nannies, housekeepers, private chefs, personal assistants, baby nurses, and more.
His uncle started the company in 1962, and since then, the needs of wealthy families when it comes to household staff have changed dramatically, Greenberg says.
“There’s never been wealth like there is now,” he told Business Insider. “Leading up to the 60s, maybe even the 70s, most wealthy families had a primary property. They possibly had a second home. But now, I’m seeing families that have four, five homes, a yacht, a plane. I mean, the wealth is growing and people are living a life not tied to one property as in years past.”
To keep all these properties running smoothly, these families need an estate manager at each one.
Estate managers do “whatever needs to get done, hiring staff, firing staff, scheduling staff, ensuring staff gets paid, any vendors, any service providers… [they] ensure that everyone is doing their jobs,” Greenberg said.
Another position that’s emerged since the 60s is the personal assistant, who helps run the home and staff, Greenberg said. Some of the personal assistant’s responsibilities could overlap with those of an estate manager.
And these days, families are looking for college-educated nannies – and not necessarily just one of them.
“Most of the nannies that we’re meeting here have some form of education post-high school,” Greenberg said. “Some of them have master’s degrees. And what I’m seeing is, if families have children, they’re hiring three separate nannies for each child.”
On top of that, more and more people are requesting stewards and stewardesses for their yachts and private planes, he said.
Other positions, some of which might call to mind the British period TV drama “Downton Abbey,” set in the early 20th century, have fallen out of fashion over the years.
“A chambermaid, parlor maid, lady’s maid – those have gone away, in a sense, from their literal definitions,” Greenberg said.
A lady’s maid had many different duties in the past, Greenberg explained.
“A lady’s maid was in charge of being the gatekeeper with the lady of the house, always ensuring that the lady of the house is looking her best, is feeling her best, and is representing her best,” he said. “That involves her ensuring that the silver in the family is taken care of well, the china is taken care of well, that the Mrs.’ clothes are taken care of well.”
The lady’s maid may have also paid some of the tradesmen and kept track of items they’d sent out to the laundry.
“A lot of those things evolved into a laundress now, or a personal assistant who would handle a lot of those things,” Greenberg said.
Other positions that have fallen out of fashion include the valet, the gentlemen’s equivalent of a lady’s maid, Greenberg said. A kitchen helper, typically a position where someone plucked the chickens, peeled the potatoes, and generally assisted the chef, has turned into a sous-chef.
And wet nurses, who traditionally breastfed someone else’s child, are “pretty much obsolete,” Greenberg said. But more and more families are hiring baby nurses and paying them up to $US800 a day to care for their newborns and teach them to sleep through the night.
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