Hot Tips For Would-be Billionaire Butlers

This GQ piece on the butler renaissance, otherwise known as the ever-widening wealth gap, is full of fun facts:

1. The verb for what butlers do is “buttling.”

2. Butlers don’t shake hands.

3. Butlers don’t sit down in front of their bosses.

4. Butlers don’t say “You’re welcome.” Too gauche. A quick nod or a “my pleasure” will do.

5. Butlers are in super high demand in China:

China now has over 1 million millionaires, with 90,000 minted just in 2012. Gary Williams, a London-based staffing agent who himself was a butler for fifteen years, credits much of China’s butler demand to Downton Abbey. Watched by millions of Chinese, it’s one of the biggest British TV imports ever. The show is more than just a soapy diversion, he says; it’s a guidebook for living in a stratified society. “The Chinese aren’t even really sure what a British butler should do,” says Williams. “It will take them ten to fifteen years to really understand that.”

But they’ll pay — and pay well — to find out. A new butler willing to go east, to Shanghai or Dubai or anywhere else suffering an Anglo-servant shortage, can start at $60,000 a year and run his employer’s estate from the start. In the West, where standards are higher and the competition more fierce, a rookie typically apprentices for a few years and earns a starting salary of maybe $40,000. A butler in either market should hit six figures within five to six years — sooner if he learns a few dirty secrets or gets poached by one of his boss’s billionaire friends.

Which sounds okay until…

A native butler costs less — roughly $300 a month, which is affordable for even middle-class Chinese — and so brings none of the showing-up-the-Joneses superiority.

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