We are the news in the newspaper EL MUNDO
📰 Did you read the newspaper the day after the elections in Spain?
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Yes, we are news too!
💥 Although we live immersed in the world of silent luxury, sometimes we know how to generate buzz.
Editor: Marisa del Bosque
Photo: GORKA LOINAZ ARABA PRESS
Here is the interview translated into English ↘
The manager who pulls the strings of Spain’s super millionaires: “Sometimes you have to stop and put your feet on the ground”
Behind the main fortunes of our country is Lourdes Carbó, a ‘personal angel’ who attends their needs and whims at all costs. In one week they can spend up to two million euros. This is the regular basis of her profession at the highest demand.
Carbó at the terrace of the Antares Tower, one of the most luxurious skyscrapers in Barcelona
GORKA LOINAZARABA PRESS
From arranging a private plane to getting an invitation to the exclusive Monaco Rose Ball, where Lana del Rey was giving her only concert of the season, specifically the one a teenager wanted to see to celebrate a special date. Lourdes Carbó is capable of achieving that and almost everything, from the simplest to the most complicated requests. “Sometimes so much that you don’t even know where to begin,” she assures.
Carbó works as a personal angel, the unknown figure in the shadows who makes life easier for that tiny percentage of millionaires who make their fortunes in our country. A small club that, on the same day, can afford breakfast on deck with French champagne at Miami’s coastline along with oysters for dinner, while watching the sunset in a mansion in Tuscany, without, of course, worrying about moving or packing a suitcase, booking a hotel, buying a ticket or any of the other mundane tasks faced by those who already consider it a luxury to take a few days off the calendar to spread out their towel on a beach.
Far from that condition, for the tiny segment of the population with six zeros in their current account – almost 3% of Spaniards, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report – ,enjoying a well-deserved holiday is stress-free since there is nothing to think about: their favourite flowers will be in the vase, cut to the right size and placed in the right position, the caviar will be cooling in the fridge and the yacht will be ready to set sail.
We are talking about rich, very rich. “They are families exceptionally distinct with the rest of society, with very complicated and extraordinary lives, who take 22 people to the other side of the world, to the Hamptons, to celebrate their grandmother’s birthday. As expected, none of the invited pack a suitcase and when they get there they have nothing to do, since everything is already done. That’s part of their tranquility and our duty to fulfill,” remarks Lourdes Carbó, founder of Alberta La Grup, a Spanish company that has become the world’s third largest personal assistant agency for high net worth individuals, social elites and the very successful.
How big? Huge. Last year, Forbes magazine counted 28 multimillionaires in Spain, considering only those with assets worth more than one billion dollars. Far behind them, but also in the economic stratosphere, another 246,500 people exceed one million, according to the consultancy Cap Gemini, with figures from 2021. “These are families who may have 400 domestic servants on their payroll and own an average of five residences – some as many as 12 – around the world, people who don’t hesistate to spend 6,000 euros for a night in a hotel or a bottle of wine”.
Carbó’s clients, eight at the moment, have a “brutal” economic level. “We don’t wonder what they want, we just make it happen,” she claims. “We are the CEO of their private lives, because we don’t deal with any corporate issues, we are there to make the company, the family, work”.
Furthermore, Carbó’s clients have all sorts of requests, specially in summer, when these angels hit the working peak. “The turnover is huge, we operate with a lot of money: a family can spend two million euros in a week,” she states. “So, although we have our own holidays and private lives, like everyone else, we never rest, because things are always happening and you are there to sort them out, whatever it takes; it’s very difficult to separate private life from work.
“We are like the validos of the 21st century, the right hand of the powerful”
As an anecdote, she recalls interrupting her days off to drive a luxury car to a villa where a family was demanding it. “It’s not that much of a sacrifice to drive that kind of car, is it? Specially with the gas is paid for. You don’t get that opportunity every day,” she says. “This profession allows you to travel in a different way and to live experiences that would otherwise be unattainable”.
Her company, which she set up as a limited company in 2011 after capitalising the Spanish unemployement, began by providing services to three families. Now 18 multilingual people work for her – some speak up to seven languages, including Arabic, and Lourdes, five – and they are mainly operate in Switzerland, Dubai, Paris, Monaco, New York and Miami. They manage a network capable of handling anything and anywhere in the world: “The important thing is to know how to move around and contact the expert who can help you; the key is your agenda, if you have contacts, everything is easier,” she says.
These types of companies follow a pyramid scheme: only the angel staff deal with the family, while behind them a whole network of professionals manage any need. For example: solving the theft of the yacht’s dinghy, organising an extra weekend on a Greek island for a teenage girl with her friends or organising 12 dinners with as many different chefs. “But under one condition: that they have to be the best in the world, all with Michelin stars. Families know very well what they want and will pay whatever it takes. And we don’t question it, we manage it. I like to say that we are like the validos of the 21st century, the right hand of the powerful”.
And doesn’t that go to one’s head? “We know what’s in that world, but we are not part of it, it’s not ours. The families we serve make decisions without accounting money, they are looking for experiences. But we also get them discounts, and they like it. Sometimes when we say: ‘It’s a great price’, we stop to weigh and…. Sheesh, you have to stop and put your feet on the ground,” Carbó replies confidently.
She is the best definition of silent luxury, stealth wealth disguised as simplicity. “In this social stratum there are many symbols that make it clear what category you belong to, whether you are nouveau riche, rich de pedigree or just plain rich. And, yes, you can learn them. In fact, you should learn them, because they are decisive, for example, when it comes to hiring a yacht: “You have to know which one to look for; there are some basic minimums that you need to acknowledge”.
It is something so simple yet so complicated for those who do not move in these circles, like checking that the measurements of a private plane are sufficient to allow you to enter it standing upright. “Imagine the situation if the family has to bend down when the day comes,” she remarks.
At what point does someone consider being an achiever? Carbó worked at the corporate level, as as Presidence secretary, and was often asked to help with private matters. “I had colleagues who hated it, but I enjoyed doing it, I found it a challenge. Later, when the family left for North America, I decided to stay and work for them from here, on a personal level. I had discovered this type of business: Concierge companies, in London, and I already had the idea in my mind, I wasn’t discovering fire.
After that, word of mouth did the job, because in this kind of business nothing is advertised. “Our clients only know what’s going on at home, nothing else; we even work for the families of two brothers who don’t know about it.
Anyone who wants to start a service like this can do so without a problem, Carbó insists. “You don’t need much: a computer, a mobile phone and contacts. And work long hours. Has it been easy? No. Can anyone do it? Yes. We work 24/7, but it’s well paid. I’m very ant-like and cautious,” she argues, playing it down.
But the reality is that their work is very well paid: again, another six figure payroll. These are the ones that reward responsibility; the angel staff know the family’s sensitive information, they know what side of the bed everyone sleeps on, whether they will want the yellow or green dishes, how they like to organise their clothes in the drawers, they have the house keys and passwords…. And, above all, they pay for “absolute discretion”, the key to the success of their work.
“Without it, you have little future,” she says. “It’s about achieving the objective (whatever the request) without collateral damage. We are not experts in anything, but we know where to find them. Our job is similar to that of a journalist: we know where to look. There is money to be made, but there is also a lot of stress, you never finish.
Part of the merit lies, also, in moving on two sides. “You have to know perfectly what the family is like, their tastes, but you also need to persuade those on the other side. For example, the person who has to go down to the beach to check whether the sand is white or black. And you also need to get them to come down to check it happily and to want to collaborate with you, so that you don’t get an unpleasant surprise afterwards. You depend on them and you have to use their language.
Carbó describes it in a way that seems simple, but it may not be so simple when it is a profession within the reach of few. What do you have to have to be able to do this? I insist. “We have made a list that includes 137 skills. We could think of more, but never less. And it doesn’t mean you have to have all of them, although there are some that are fundamental, in addition to discretion, languages and empathy”.
That is why they set up The Lifestyle Institute, a unique school in the world directed by her which is the first in Europe to train these discreet and efficient professionals who manage the private lives of the elite. “It came about out of necessity, we couldn’t find qualified people to do the job. I have been self-taught, anyone can, but it takes longer and you’d suffer, hence our course,” she says.
“If you once jump through the hoop of something you don’t like, you’ll have to do it every time”
No matter how talented they were, it took an average of four to six months for those aspiring to find a job with Lourdes Carbó to become somewhat comofortable, a time she did not have. “That’s why the postgraduate thing started. I started with the intention of outlining what is needed to enhance the skills of those who are interested in becoming angels so that they would be up to the task. This profession is exciting, but only for a minority, even though there are a few thousand millionaires. It must be preserved”. So far, there have already been two official calls for applications for her master’s degree, last one being this past June.
In all this time, hasn’t there been anything that has made you think that it has got out of hand? I ask her. “Yes, of course. For example, the day I had to ship bottles of water of a certain brand to the other side of the world, to a Eurasian country. They needed it to wash their hair, because it had the right mineral composition to give them the texture they wanted”.
Along with this frivolity, there are other extravagances that don’t work out, such as when she had to fill a house with 6,000 little glasses each containing a rosebud. “He wanted to surprise his partner, a much younger woman, but he didn’t get the effect he was looking for and she didn’t like to come in and see all that. We had to make them disappear almost immediately, we had to destroy something that had cost us millions in seconds”.
There are many other moments that fill her with pride. For example, when she managed, in extremis, to find lost medical tests at MD Anderson Cancer Center: “We felt it was crucial to find them and we did it thanks to the help of a nurse who went around the building opening drawers left and right. We are there on a day-to-day basis, both during festive events and in delicate situations.
Have you ever had to stop your client and say ‘this is it’? “Of course, if you once jump through the hoop of something you don’t like, you will have to do it every time. I have had to stop working with three families, because there are also some families that you don’t like. And the way you leave also has to be precise; it’s not as simple as saying goodbye”.
-Are we talking about a request that borders on the law?
-No, I simply understood that it was not the way of doing things. And I didn’t do it,” she concludes.
Translation: Mario Ruiz Blanco
Lourdes Carbó, founder and CEO at Alberta La Grup and The Lifestyle Institute, spoke in ‘En Casa de Herrero’, from ES RADIO.
➡️ The whole programme:
Cristina Martí, Personal Angel and Lifestyle Manager at Alberta La Grup and lecturer at The Lifestyle Institute, spoke for ‘Juntos’, a magazine on Telemadrid.
We share with you an excerpt from the interview, where she explained the important role played by Personal Angels. ⤵️
🗞️ Cristina Martí, Personal Angel and Lifestyle Manager at Alberta La Grup and lecturer at The Lifestyle Institute, took part in the magazine Mesa de Análisis on the Andalusian television channel Canal Sur. We leave you with a fragment of the interview, where she talked about the role of Personal Angels. ⤵️
Cristina, assistant to millionaires: “We don’t judge what they ask of us. As long as it is legal and moral, we will do our best to resolve it”
Read this interesting interview with Cristina Martí about Alberta La Grup and The Lifestyle Institute at NIUS DIARIO!
21 March, 2023
And read it in english here:
· These professionals are dedicated to assisting “high net worth individuals” to ensure that they don’t need to worry about anything
· There services fall under at least 300 categories which are provided according to the clients’ needs
· They estimate taking care of around 5,600 tasks per family each year.
Their job is to always be one step ahead and to help their clients avoid worrying about trivial tasks such as buying birthday presents, sorting out boxes after a house move or looking for cleaning staff. They are know as personal assistants or, as they like to refer to themselves, personal angels as they consider themselves to be guardian angels for those whose lives they make easier.
Certainly, some of the tasks they have to take care of are challenges that would seemingly require some help from above, although they take care of them without batting an eyelid: picking up a forgotten teddy bear from a villa in the middle of the mountains, convincing the Little Mermaid herself to appear in the private pool at the birthday party of a little American girl in Spain, or taking a specific brand of bottled water from Geneva to Kazakhstan for clients who only like to drink that particular brand.
Cristina Martí (42) is one of them main protagonists when it comes to these achievements. She has been working as a personal assistant for high net worth clients for the last ten years and she talks about these challenges (that she faces on a daily basis) as though they were totally natural. As she explains, it is her job: the client makes their requests and she (and her team) make them happen.
For example, when she travelled to New York to decorate a hotel room for Halloween to surprise the family’s children, or when she had to pick up a car in Rome and drive it to Geneva so that the top executive she was assisting could arrive on time to his meeting without having to worry about his sports car. Of course, Cristina delivered it looking spotless and with a full tank of petrol.
These are the kinds of requests that arrive to Alberta La Grup Lifestyle Business, SL, the agency in which she works and where they carry out services in at least 300 categories such as home and family, care for the elderly, shopping, travel, family activities or taking care of properties.
The client chooses what kind of service and the amount of hours they want to contract and from there, the magic starts to happen. It could be anything from doing the shopping to what is called a ‘soft landing’ (one of the most requested services) which is simply helping with the ‘landing’ of someone who is getting set up in a new country.
“That was one of my first jobs and I remember it fondly. A client was moving to Spain and they hired us to handle to move. She needed to travel for a month in Europe so we got the house ready, we put away the clothes in the way she liked, and we filled the fridge with her favourite food. We got everything ready: the garden had been taken care of, her pet was at home, the housekeeping staff were hired, her children had a school ready. When she arrived, she found a home that was ready to be lived in”, she explains.
It’s the work of a fairy godmother that she has taken care of many times since she started. “We take care of everything, so that when they move that don’t miss their home country. We try to make sure that their arrival is not traumatic.”
That’s why among their clients (of whom they won’t give us any details) there are footballers who have recently moved from other countries, executives without much time on their hands and other people who prefer to pay and free themselves of their worries.
“The first thing we do is send them a survey that allows us to get to know them better. This way we know what their needs are, whether it will be just for that person or for the whole family, how many hours they need, what they are like and what their tastes and preferences are.”
Question: And from that point on do you offer personalized services?
A: We become their circle of trust, without being their friends. Everything they ask of us, we take care of it. We show them hairdressers, schools that meet the criteria they are looking for, we help the to do all the paperwork for the school, we find them a gym or a personal trainer. We also remind them when they have a doctor’s appointment or when their kids have extra-curricular activities. That’s why a lot of what we do involves anticipating their needs.
Question: So in addition to what they request, do you propose things too?
A: For example, we know when their partner’s birthday is so we can suggest that they go for dinner to a certain restaurant and we will have informed the restaurant beforehand so that they are aware and can put flowers on the table or take care of any special requests. Or perhaps the client has let us know that they love F1 and the Red Bull team so we might suggest that they go to the Red Bull paddock in Miami and we can take care of organizing the trip if they want us to.
Question: Are you available 24 hours?
Answer: There are many different situations: some clients only need assistance until 6pm, whereas others contract our services for 24h. That’s why we work as a team – this way, we know that they will never be without the assistance they need.
It’s very important that there is always someone available. A client may call to tell us that they have forgotten their medication and that they are travelling and therefore we would need to get on a plane and “take it to Dubai”. Or maybe the pipes in their mountain home burst in the middle of the night and we need to “put the family up in a hotel and 3am” and take care of resolving the issue with the insurance.
Question: Have you ever rejected any requests?
A: We are not here to judge what they request, as long as it is legal and moral we will do our best to resolve it. It’s a challenge for the team. A while ago, a client told us that their daughter was very sad because in the U.S. she had been a friend of the Little Mermaid who she had met at a birthday party and to whom she wrote letters. When she came to live in Spain, that relationship became complicated, so we looked for a Spanish Little Mermaid. We organized a pool party and the little girl found the new Little Mermaid their. The client and their daughter were delighted.
Q: It sounds like things never get boring!
A: Not everything is so exciting. We also deal with more simple requests. We take care of paying fines, sending a taxi with a phone charger when the client forgets it, taking the children to their basketball practice or helping to organize a dinner with friends. But of course, we do have very exciting requests. Right now we are taking care of a trip to Disney for a family and not only do we need to take care of flights, arrival, accommodation, etc. The planning starts before all this: who will take care of the house, the pets, the garden, who to call in case the alarm goes off, who will take them to the airport, etc.
Q: Have you ever failed to resolve a request?
A: We try our best not to. We have a great deal of the work already done and we take good care of our relationships with suppliers. If the client needs a reservation in an exclusive restaurant, the staff there already know who we are. If they urgently need their suit dry-cleaned, we already know where to take it. When we don’t find what they need, we can adapt. It could be a case in which the client likes their household staff, but they don’t know how to cook what they want or they don’t know how to iron their shirt the way they like it, in this case we would show them how.
Q: Have you ever rejected a client for being rude or inappropriate?
A: Our clients know who we are and we understand them well. If some of them don’t ask for things in a polite way, we know that it’s nothing personal and we always work in a professional manner, unless it was somebody who was constantly disrespectful. We have said ‘no’ to many people.
Q: What are the requirements to become a personal assistant?
A: We once got together to count them and there were 137 skills that were required as an assistant, but basically we can summarize it as showing willing or excitement to do this job because it is a vocation, and a demanding one at that. Furthermore, you need to have professional ethics, good time management skills, know how to handle your emotions, politeness, languages, know how and be multi-talented. One day you might be organizing a top itinerary, and the next running to pick up a bag from the gym.
It is a job that, according to what Lourdes Carbó, the CEO of the agency in Barcelona told NIUS, is very well compensated. “We take in at least 60,000 euros a year, but it all depends on the family we are working with”, she says. What is certain is that it is well earned. According to their calculations, throughout the year they carry out on average 5,600 tasks per family.
We were at the ‘Building Futures’ talk at El Apartamento in La Roca Village, by Bibiana Balbé, where Lourdes Carbó, founder of TLI and Alberta la Grup, was invited to participate in the debate on ‘Hospitality, the art of empathy’. Together with journalists and entrepreneurs in the Luxury industry, she shared her reflections as an expert in creating quality experiences.
If you couldn’t see Lourdes Carbó talking about the life of multimillionaires and the Personal Angel profession, you can watch it in this link:
Thank you very much for giving visibility to our profession!
Now you can hear an interesting report where we participated with the team of ‘A Vivir que son dos días’ (directed by Javier del Pino), the reference radio show in Cadena SER, with Juan José Millás and Paqui Ramos.
Here is the translation of the article from the Cadena Ser website translated into English!
Make the plane wait for me: the complex life of a millionaire
How they live, the requests they make and the people that help to organize their lives
Cadena SER16/10/2022 – 10:15 h CEST
Madrid / Barcelona
We’re such a miserable bunch that during the two hours of the train journey from Madrid to Barcelona, we couldn’t think of a single extravagant thing to request to the Albertas. When you don’t belong to that world, you don’t have the experience or the imagination to know all the things that you could request and, better (or worse) still, everything that could be within your reach, even before you request it.
Lourdes Carbó worked in the Family Office for a businessman until the day that he and his family decided to leave for Miami and she decided to stay and take care of the things he needed in Barcelona. “A millionaire’s life is very complex. You cannot compare having a house to manage to have five houses, a yacht and a private jet, as well as the children’s school in a foreign country”. They are constantly on business trips and they don’t have time to deal with day-to-day issues. “If they have a lawyer or a financial advisor to deal with their assets, why would they want to take care of buying tickets or calling a plumber?” That’s where Alberta La Grup comes in , the company that Lourdes founded 15 years ago with her ex-boss as her first client.
Throughout the morning that we spent with her almost all-female team, we realise that they are real go-getters whose strongest talent is in taking action and finding the right person to contact: “the best padel instructor, the best horse trainer, a dog-walker, the person to fix something very specific.” They ask them for everything: from picking up a ring from the jewellers to renting a car to see how it fits in the garage before they decide to buy it. Booking tickets for a particular concert, a table in a luxury restaurant, booking a villa for the Christmas holidays that comes complete with a butler, babysitter, housekeeping service, gardener, etc. They themselves hire, and sometimes even train, these people.
Juanjo is interested in having dinner with Penélope Cruz. Could they make it happen? Anything is possible “as long as it isn’t illegal or immoral”. In their 15 years of work, they have realised that the key is in having the right information, as well as good contacts and persuasive skills. Is it possible to be empathetic towards someone who spends more in a month than you will have in a lifetime? With someone who doesn’t care about making a plane wait 20 minutes because they’re running late? With someone who interrupts a meeting with an oncologist? Empathy for them is getting into the mind-set of someone else, but always keeping your feet firmly on the ground. It’s hard to keep your cool when you go up to the penthouse in the Antares Tower and take a look around the 660 square-metre designer apartment with a terrace overlooking the whole of Barcelona and a good part of the Mediterranean. As Juanjo says, “having all of this should make you afraid of going outside – maybe a brick will fall on your head and you will lose everything”.
Recently we also had the privilege of appearing live on the TV3 ‘Tot es mou’, talking about The Lifestyle Institute, how the training in our Postgraduate is, the way we work and, in short, who we are and what inspires us to be personal angels.
You can watch us and tell us if you liked it!