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Safe Deposit Box - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

October 31, 2021 V268

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.
Confucius (551-479 BCE)

The Good

Today, on matters of safety and security we probably have more information and options available than at any time in the past.

We don’t know what the future holds, but we can study the past. The times change but the lessons don’t. The same rules of survival and success apply. Doomsday preparation, residency diversification, legacy planning, ensuring portability of assets, etc … these things never go out of fashion. The formerly-secret blueprints and plans of emperors, the super-rich, and the elites are much more widely available today than they ever were before.

Today, these include arranging for private vaults with will custodian services, family trusts; investment plans for retirement, sickness and death; and tax planning via offshore accounts. Legacy and succession planning, wealth preservation and secure distribution, and global portability of assets are the primary focus.

Your safest, most flexible option for access and portability is to go for off-site storage (storage outside your country of residence) and offshore bank accounts. You want state-of-the-art security, 24-hour access, extreme discretion, and liquidity.

Build for tomorrow while securing what you have today.


The Bad

Empires rise then fall as surely as night comes after day. As one empire falls, another rises to take its place. US political scientist Graham T. Allison coined the term Thucydides Trap to describe the tendency to war when “an emerging power threatens to displace an existing great power as the international hegemon”. The transition is rarely peaceful: Allison’s research shows that 12 of the 16 historical cases of a rising power rivalling a ruling power resulted in war.

The problem is not with the change of guard; the problem is the armed conflict, the misery, the breakdown of law and order, and the uncertainty that the process entails. An African proverb goes “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled”.

When you fail to plan, you are effectively planning to fail.


The Ugly

Governments get overthrown, currencies get debased, disaster and disability and death strike unexpectedly. With affluence, modernity, and scale come risk, complexity, and delegation of responsibility.

Focus on growing your wealth but don’t forget to put time aside to protect your nest egg.

Trust technology, as you should, but don’t neglect doing backups, having manual workarounds, and mandating security practices.

Delegate responsibility — with scale, you can no longer do everything yourself —but sometimes you end up trusting outsiders with the keys to the kingdom and forget to apply the maxim “Trust but verify” (it rhymes in its original Russian). Don’t forget to balance the business necessity for delegation with the common-sense imperative of relying on judgement and intuition.

Betrayals often happen not by strangers but by the people closest to you. Recorded and anecdotal history is full of examples of the trusted advisor who usurped the kingdom; the business partner who defrauded the founder or the family bookkeeper who siphoned away millions; and the best friend who ‘took your girl’.

Consider a specific example: physical assets. Think home safes are safe or safe-deposit boxes in banks can always be banked on?

Unemployment numbers are climbing, given current economic conditions. Home invasions are on the rise. With home safes you don’t have recourse to professional surveillance. Happy, reliable families can turn out to be anything but when greed or discord strike. The service of providing safe-deposit-box facilities (once the only out-of-home option available) no longer being lucrative, major banks are increasingly closing their facilities.

Finally, the personal and corporate environment is full of frenemies: co-workers who pretend to be your friend but are really your enemy, family members who are plotting against you. We have several real horror stories to share:

  1. An office safe, not bolted to the floor, being carried away by a trusted member of staff;
  2. A husband in an estranged marriage changing the locks to the matrimonial house then gifting the entire contents of the safe, containing the wife’s valuables, to the new lady of the house;
  3. A spouse installing a pinhole spy camera to capture the combination code for a safe used by his wife, taking the passports of the kids when the opportunity presented itself, then leaving the country with the kids.


It’s always time to get your house in order.


Information accurate at time of publishing.