prized collection of art at the Uffizi Museum in Florence,
Rome, was willed to the people of Florence, in 1716 by Maria
Luisa, of the ruling Medici family, when she recognised
that she had no surviving heirs.
Her will was so well formulated that items of the collection
that had been removed by Napoleon, had to be repatriated
to the city of Florence years after. The Uffizi is a manifestation
of accumulated wealth and represents the kind of assets
to target at the highest peak of the pyramid of the financial
The concept of the wealth pyramid in an old one, often used
to illustrate the essence of foundation planning and the
heights of aspiration.
Imagine that you were to place all your assets into a pyramid-
like structure. It is widest at its base, and peaks at the
top. The assets that would form the basics of wealth accumulation
are at the base: life insurance policies, health insurance,
and pension plans.
Every other asset should be accumulated after these first
provisions have been secured. Only life insurance provides
income replacement, and only pension plans guarantee a stream
of income for life. These are foundation!
On top of these would be placed your principal residence,
and other significant property. These are big ticket items
that serve in the provision of shelter for the family.
After you have acquired those assets, you would then explore
other types of investments such as mutual funds, stocks,
and bonds. You may venture into the commodity markets, or
the futures and options markets. These would be positioned
atop the layer of tangible property.
At the apex of the pyramid you are then free to accumulate
assets in the line of gem stones and fine art.
Once you have filled all the layers of the pyramid, you
may then pat yourself on the back, and begin to consider,
like Maria Luisa, to whom you may Will these assets.
While it may be true that too many of us are forever occupied
in just making ends meet from month to month, it is an experience
to travel and see the evidence that others have left behind.
The wealth is stupendous, and ought to be a motivator and
an inspiration or at least a source of encouragement to
those who feel great things are unattainable, or not for
Maria Luisa was a woman, a female, in the age when, for
most of the worlds population, women were not recognised
with a voice, or to legally own property. In fact women
were commonly believed to be the property of their husbands.
But she left a testimony of great strength, and remarkable
value that was all hers.
The Basilica San Marco in St Marks Square, and the Dolge
Palace of Venice are also stark testimony to the quantum
of wealth that is available to those who seek it. These
well preserved buildings represented the seat of the magistracy,
the seat of the Senate and the seat of the Church, under
the doctrine of St Mark, in 15th Century Venice. Much of
the ceiling is fretwork, and fresco par-excellence, in gilded
That wealth is available is beyond question, that it is
available for the resourceful and the ambitious is beyond
But perhaps what was more astounding than all the wealth
in the ancient paintings of the Palace, was the fact that
everywhere that a Dolge (magistrate) was depicted, so too
was St Mark, with his brown hair, distinctive beard, and
halo. It was as though originally, the Church and the State
were united in rule!
n Raziah Ahmed is a registered financial consultant.