Morgan Stanley
  • Wealth Management
  • Jul 30, 2020

Unique Financial Challenges Creatives Face

Successful creative professionals often struggle with unusual problems or fears related to their atypical careers. Learn how to confront your unique issues.

The actress who found fame and fortune on the big screen and now dreams of returning to her roots in live theater

The rock star who built his music on his hard-scrabble roots and wants his children to understand the legacy and strength of a life that isn’t all about privilege and wealth

A young writer who achieved fame and riches with a debut bestseller but needs time and breathing room to craft the next masterpiece

As a creative professional, you often deal with work-related situations that may differ from a typical cubicle employee. While some of these scenarios involve pragmatic matters, others are more philosophical. Either way, they present unique challenges. So, let’s explore some questions you might face, and how you might resolve them.

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1) How can I plan financially for the unexpected?

Due to the project-by-project nature of work for many actors, musicians, writers, and other creatives, your income flow is often unsteady and your career can take sudden detours. So, it’s smart to employ some conservative strategies that can provide some financial cushion to prepare for the unexpected.

For example, focus on saving as much as you can, even up to 40%-50% of your income. Also, diversifying your portfolio with investments that contain both income and growth elements may be a good idea.

And placing a greater emphasis on liquid assets that can be converted relatively easily into cash, such as savings accounts, money-market accounts, and bonds, can help you smooth your cash flow and pay for short-term emergencies.

2) How large a support staff can I afford?

Some creatives may need to develop a support staff to achieve or maintain success. But agents, publicists, managers, trainers, personal assistants, stylists, marketing consultants, and other potential staff members all need to be paid.

It’s important to understand how large a staff you can afford, as well as reasonable rates for the services they provide. Otherwise, you might jeopardize your financial future. Consulting with your Global Sports and Entertainment Director who has experience advising professionals in the creative industry can be a sound first step in developing a staff budget.

3) How do I talk to my kids about finances?

Perhaps you’re a creative who’s often in the spotlight, and your affluence is no secret—particularly to your children. Or maybe your kids realize you’re wealthy simply because of your family’s lifestyle. In either case, they still need to understand that just because you can afford to buy them something doesn’t mean they should have it.

Regardless of your wealth, it’s essential to teach them about basic money management principles, such as the importance of saving, following a budget or allowance, and developing financial discipline. By doing so, you can give your children a better chance for financial success once they’re on their own.

In addition to educating their children about finances, some successful creatives also need to deal with requests for financial help from extended family members or maybe lifelong friends. While it’s difficult to say “no” to these requests, it’s important to accept that your capacity to financially support others is limited. In these situations, you might feel more comfortable having your GSE Director act as a buffer to explain your situation to family members and friends.

4) How do I find my power of why?

Professionals working in most industries spend their twenties and thirties slowly building their careers and wealth. However, in the creative field, it’s common for an individual to experience extraordinary success and affluence at a young age–sometimes before they’ve developed the requisite life skills to handle either one.

While that may seem like a minor issue, it can lead to feelings of emptiness or restlessness. After all, if you’ve accomplished everything you’ve dreamed about almost overnight, what are you going to do next?

Finding a higher purpose (such as working actively with charities or developing a philanthropic foundation), or tackling new challenges, (such as starting your own business) are some possibilities that can propel you to a more meaningful, rewarding journey for the coming decades. Such pathways might also inspire your next creative project or a new direction to explore with interesting people or organizations you haven’t worked with before.

If you want to share your success with others by donating money, you’ll need to consider many factors when choosing an appropriate philanthropic vehicle—such as contribution limits, the duration of your giving, tax implications, the relative ease of contributing, and donor control.

Common giving options for ultra-high-net-worth individuals include direct lifetime donations, charitable bequests, charitable gift annuities, pooled income funds, charitable trusts, donor-advised funds, 529 plans, and private foundations. The latter can be ideal if you want to be actively involved in your donations, including determining how and when your funds are distributed. However, each option has its own merits, as well as restrictions. Talk to your GSE Director for details.