The age old saying of “never mix friends and money” is wise and well known for a reason; money often adds a layer of to any relationship, personal or professional. In professional settings it is important for all parties involved to set the tone for how the use of employer provided funds is handled and tracked. This post will cover this topic from candidate and client point of view, as well as provide some useful suggestions for each.
For our clients:
Trusting any new employee takes time, especially if you may have had an unfavorable experience in the past with other domestic or professional staff. Introducing a new employee to your estate, home, or team and providing them with funds and/or a credit card can actually be a safe and effective way for you to gain trust between each other without risking too much. This will be a great tool to use for your new House Manager, Personal Assistant, Nanny, or Butler.
Your first and primary step to take should include setting a rather low credit limit at the beginning, this lowers your risk level. The limit could depend on your expenses and the position. If your house manager is responsible for buying groceries and not much else, perhaps you could start out with a $5000-$7,000 limit. If you have hired an estate manager that needs to hit the ground running and pay for larger costs, you may need to increase that limit to the thousands based on your budgets and projects. Alternatively, if your nanny is not doing much shopping and perhaps just buying snacks and small meals, a $2000 limit at first could be effective. It is important to note however, you should provide your new employee with a credit card as soon as possible. Providing them with their own form of payment method removes them from feeling awkward or obligated to use personal funds with the need for reimbursement. Most of us can recall a time when it was a struggle or impossible to retrieve funds that were supposed to be reimbursed to us.
For example, a private chef I placed on a large estate in Atlanta for a high-net-worth family noted a time when he began with a combo of card and cash, which allowed him to gain the trust of his clients and still be able to spend more than his card limit if needed, or if he were shopping somewhere such as a farmer’s market. Even a small cash limit that is reconciled can be a great way to provide your employee with funds in the meantime their new card is processing.
For our candidates:
It is very important to understand the necessity of having access to employer provided credit cards or funds. If you are a house manager, estate manager, or personal assistant many of the errands you will be running will include the need for you to spend money. Please think twice about paying for something on your own, especially in large amounts with anticipation of getting reimbursed promptly. If the principal you work for is affording to maintain a large estate with domestic staff, your small reimbursement may take as long as one or two paycheck cycles if it has to go through different channels and be reimbursed to you in the form of a check.
Additionally, you should be extremely responsible when handling others money, especially your boss’ money. A good house manager or estate manager should be well versed in tracking expenses and receipts. If you are newer to a domestic profession, you should research and ask trusted friends and sources how to best manage spending, track/report expenses, and maintain/organize your receipts. Many of the nannies that I work with know there are a lot of perks to caring for children of high-net-worth families, but be cautious to not let that cloud your judgement or integrity. If you are a nanny, house manager, or personal assistant, you must remember to never get lost for a moment and think that innocently adding a candy bar or a soda to the grocery cart for yourself is ever acceptable.
In closing, this is a friendly reminder for my domestic professionals, both clients and candidates, that it is quite important to give a fair amount of thought in how you anticipate expenses being handled. Reimbursement situations put too many people in vulnerable situations, and that trust and communication are above everything to make an estate run smoothly. If used properly, the ethical use of other people’s money can be a fantastic tool to develop trust on any estate or in any home.
At The Robert Hanselman Domestic Agency, we value your expertise and aim to be a resource for you as a domestic staffing candidate. Our nationwide searches for domestic staffing have connected our team with an invaluable reach of advice, ideas, and expertise into the world of high net worth homes and estates.