07/05/2021

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how-the-super-rich-find-love-in-lockdown

How the super-rich find love in lockdown

Vogue, August 1964

Art Kane/Conde Nast via Getty Images

Even in a pandemic, the super-rich haven’t given up on love. In fact, many have turned to the match-making skills of Olivia Rigg, founder of high-net-worth dating agency, Hamilton Rigg.

‘Covid has made people at every level think much more about their relationships than ever before, whether that’s about finding a great relationship, bringing the spark back in or making it sexy. In normal life, everyone is too busy,’ she says.

Rigg is all about helping successful men meet the right kind of women, men who ‘don’t have time to waste meeting the wrong people.’

She tells me, ‘The opportunities where my clients might usually meet people have been reduced – all the global events that they might go to, such as the Grand Prix, the parties, art events or even on a First Class flight… those group ski trips to St. Moritz where they might make an acquaintance with a mutual friend, they’re not happening in lockdown.’

Olivia Rigg

Photography by Circe Hamilton

So, they turn to Rigg and her team for their match-matching expertise, where a six-month membership starts at around five figures, and where they hope, using her extended network, she will find them a suitable girlfriend or wife. She tells me that her male clients come from a diverse background, ‘Some are royalty, some are from big dynastic families, right through to people who are super self-made. The commonality is that they’re all very driven, results-orientated, successful and at the top of their game’, usually from the finance, real estate and entertainment industries.

She adds, ‘My youngest client is 29 and my oldest is 73. We’re not working with massive numbers, around 15-20 clients at any one time but it’s growing. It’s important to me that I’m super involved in every aspect of it so it’s never going to be a massive number.’

Rigg tells me her niche in providing a service that The Times last year dubbed, ‘The billionaires wives club’ started by accident: ‘My first ever client was a friend who had got divorced and asked me to start match-making for him while I was still running a charity and that started the ball rolling. By word of mouth they then began talking to their friends, and it ended up being a circle of people I was helping.’

She tells me, ‘I decided that if we focused on very specific types of people, ones that I am familiar with either from my own personal life, or that I’ve socialised with or around, these are people I feel naturally quite comfortable helping as I have an organic network of people that I can introduce them to.’

She admits that most of her clients are not online dating types and they come to her ‘Because they know what they want; they want to prioritise a relationship.’ She says many of them ‘have options’, namely good looks, wealth and determination. ‘We help filter out the dating noise, even before Covid, for these people it’s not about bumping into someone randomly in a members’ club – a lot of these guys like the fact that we’ve met everyone, we’ve verified them, we’ve said “Yes OK, this person is a really great match and would fit in with the lifestyle you lead.”‘

Pre-lockdown, Rigg would personally meet every member she took on in person before making any introductions, ‘It’s a super personal journey we go through with each of the clients – we want them to feel like they are friends and we are really honest.’

These days, she helps new and existing members mostly via phone and video calls. ‘I’d like to think I am a master at picking up signs like body language and what’s going on in the background.’

She adds, ‘I’m such a fan of a walking meeting – there’s something about the informality of it, you’re not looking at people as you do in a static meeting situation, I get much more openness from them.’

Rigg oversees a database of ‘brilliant women’ to introduce her male clients to. ‘After The Times article, we were inundated with so many incredible women all over the world who also don’t want to do online dating, either because they have high profiles or they want more. We spent a lot of the first lockdown meeting them via video calls.’

She tells me many of these women are friends of hers too, or people who have been referred by mutual connections. Alongside this she has a personal army of ‘scouts and ambassadors who are well placed throughout the world, within our circles’ to help hunt down suitable matches.

Screening to become a male client of Hamilton Rigg is vast. Rigg and her team personally vet everyone who enquires. ‘Scarlett, who runs the membership side, does a really detailed search, looking at their background, social media presence and achievements.’ She adds, ‘It’s really important to me that they respect women, that they really want a great relationship – there are people out there who might think they want a great relationship but aren’t able to or don’t inherently respect women.’ If they make the cut, there’s usually a video call with a team member before an online chat with Rigg.

While lockdown has meant private jet jaunts to Paris for lunch are out of the question for a first date, (although Rigg tells me no one is really doing that anymore – ‘they’re more conscious of the environment and world around them’), phone numbers are exchanged and Rigg and her team sit back and wait.

‘I always encourage people to pick up the phone and speak to each other – it’s really that simple. In a way we’ve all sort of forgotten that this is a thing, scheduling Zoom calls, typing, swiping, writing, texting, the art of the old-fashioned phone call has been lost.’ She reveals, ‘I have had people say they’ve fallen in love with someone based on the sound of their voice.’

While she can make no promises about helping them find ‘The One’, she’s confident that she’s initiating something positive into their lives, being a modern day, all-year-round St. Valentine. ‘Covid has made my clients more decisive and when they meet the right person, things have moved quickly. I’ve got clients who have met fairly early on and then moved in together or got engaged.’

‘I want people to enjoy the process of finding love again, we seem to have fallen out with the whole idea of romance and dating because it all seems a bit grim – there’s the pressures when everyone is time-poor and the heartache of meeting the wrong people time and time again – that’s what the online dating world has given us, but I’m set on changing that.’

That, she certainly is.

For more information, visit: hamiltonrigg.com

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