Hundreds of high-fliers in Birmingham with high-pressure lifestyles are forking out up to £7,000 a year in a bid to find lasting love in a ‘throwaway society.’
Up to 400 top earners, including CEOs of major companies, have signed up with Berkeley International, a new elite introduction agency for executives looking for partners.
Berkeley branched out into Birmingham after a successful launch in London, and client director Emma Budgen, who covers the Midlands up to Scotland, said demand had been considerable among lovelorn business leaders.
And she warned that increasingly pressured lifestyles – combined with the relentless march of technology – was putting the squeeze on finding a suitable match for many top executives.
“Meeting people is not the problem – it is meeting the right people. It is not about being lonely, it’s more about being alone.
“It is not the case that these people do not have social lives which they cannot fill. They are not desperately socially inept. They don’t need somebody to keep a roof over their heads, keep a car on the road or put their bin out.
“People that come to me are very often happy with their lives, but ultimately, everyone wants to be in a relationship. The whole concept of dating and finding somebody has changed dramatically in recent years.
“Everyone is a lot more cautious, especially if they are in a wealthy position – they do not want to get fleeced.”
Ms Budgen said groups of predatory women were targeting wealthy men in London – and the trend was spreading to other cities, including Birmingham.
“There are groups of women whose full-time job is seeking out rich men and befriending them. Boys are so much a sucker for a pretty face that they can lose their common-sense. Before they realize it, they have been done. It is frightening and it is operating across the UK. I have seen clients who have been in that situation, and that is why they join us.
“These women are basically fraudsters, honeytraps. Scarily, it goes the other way too but I think that women are more astute, and are often better judges of character, but we can all be bowled over by the charm of a lovely man.”
She said the ‘throwaway society’ of the 21st century was posing big problems for lasting relationships.
“Ultimately, I doubted monogamy and whether we were genetically wired to stay with the same partner for life. Life allows far more opportunities than it used to – it is much easier to get a divorce.
“We live in a throwaway society, and we are seeing that with relationships. It is very sad – if a relationship is right, you do not have to work at it. But we are in a society with so much information out there, and we end up over-analysing everything. I want to get people to just go with the flow, to be more open and less analytical.
“There is too much knowledge. A lot of people worry about what other people think – just worry about you. People attach so much importance to things they think are important, when they are not.”
Berkeley International was founded in London in 2005 and membership fees start at £7,000. The company has around 3,500 clients on its books, with up to 400 in the Birmingham area. Ms Budgen meets every client for a minimum of two hours to verify life-stories and personal details.