Carlos Spottorno

Wealth Management & The Pigs

In 2013 I published a book called The Pigs about the stereotypes brought up by the financial press to refer to Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain.

After this I turned my eyes towards the opposite end of the story: I decided I would photograph where the money is. I wanted to check whether the shiny and elegant appearance of those managing the world’s money reflects their inner nature, or it is only a thin external coat.

I found an interesting world of private banking, armies of consultants, lawyers, bankers, institutions. An elegant gang coordinated to determine who, where and when successful or not. Efficient banks and corporations influencing institutions and governments to make sure their and their client’s wealth is perpetually protected behind unbreachable firewalls, smoke and mirrors. The name of the game is “invulnerability”.

100% of the private banks I studied offer financial advice, fiscal strategy and legal planning to their clients, be it individuals, corporations or governments, in order to maximize money accumulation. It’s called Wealth Management: the practice of helping to make the wealthy wealthier, while at the same time, depriving the public coffers of economic resources that would otherwise come from tax revenues.

The list of tax havens in Europe, or as they prefer to say, “tax friendly countries” is quite extensive: Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, the City of London, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Malta, Monte Carlo, San Marino, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and yes, The Netherlands. Each one for different reasons, and to different extents, but all of them are good attracting multinationals for fiscal reasons.

I travelled to Switzerland, Luxembourg, the City of London and San Marino to get a glimpse of this atmosphere. I photographed banks, multinational headquarters in these tax havens, and some of their own stereotypes: polo games, fashion parties, gangster-like people in Geneva and some other scenarios often used in their own publications such as high end private banks brochures. I appropriated some of their real verbal expression, and created a fictional photographic atmospheric tale.

Recently I heard someone say that to make a better world, fighting extreme poverty is far less efficient that fighting extreme wealth. I believe that this is now my way of understanding the core of my photographic work: focus on the root of the problem, and help people think about where the problems are actually coming from.

Carlos Spottorno