ENGLISH butlers, synonymous with Reginald Jeeves in the novels of PG Wodehouse, are answering more calls from super-rich Chinese and Russian clients as wealth shifts from west to east.
As Europe struggles with a debt crisis and the US tries to revive its economy, burgeoning growth in emerging markets is boosting spending on luxuries like never before, and creating opportunities for more people to look after them.
The Guild of Professional English Butlers has trained 20% more butlers this year than last, placing them with clients as soon as they are ready, Robert Watson, head of the firm in southern England, said last week.
Sara Vestin, director of the Bespoke Bureau, Peek-a-boo & Cupcakes Domestic Staff & Nanny agencies in London, said her company had trained 52 butlers this year, up from 20 last year. All found jobs, with the highest-paid placement for a £101500 salary in the United Arab Emirates.
"Everyone looking for a job who is accepted on the training with us, will get a job," Ms Vestin said. "There are a lot of people looking to hire butlers and there is a shortage of them, so for us it's a win-win situation."
The number of domestic staff registered with Greycoat Placements, based in London, had trebled over the past three years, said MD Debbie Salter.
"Demand is outstripping supply," Mr Watson said. "We deal with people who often are cash-rich and time-poor. The credit crunch did affect things for a time, but before you get rid of the butler, get rid of the Ferrari."
The ranks of millionaires in 10 major Asian economies will more than double to 2,8-million by 2015, according to a Julius Baer Group and CLSA Asia Pacific Markets report. China's economy grew 9,1% in the third quarter from a year earlier, compared with US growth of 1,5%.
"We have been doing a lot of business in China particularly," said Robert Wennekes, chairman of The International Butler Academy, which trains servants in formal white gloves and tails at a castle in the Netherlands.
"Every month for the past 15 months, I have been travelling from Amsterdam to China to service our clients there," he said.
Mr Watson estimated his company trained more than 1000 butlers a year and about a fifth of them went into personal service for the wealthy, with the rest at hotels.
Demand for placing butlers in the homes and yachts of the wealthy increased by about 20% this year, according to Sebastian Hirsch, owner of Butler For You, a company registered in Berlin that places staff across Europe. He has 30% more butlers on his books this year.
Butlers underwent a month-long training programme that included instruction on food and wine service and "second-guessing" what their employer wants, said Mr Watson. It costs live-in trainees about £8000.
The butler's place in English society reached its peak during the increasing affluence of the Victorian era, when having a butler was "considered essential for those aspiring to gentility", according to The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant, by Pamela Horn.
"In most families the office of butler . commanded respect and even awe," Ms Horn wrote. "The aim was to provide service as quietly and efficiently as possible."
In 1911, about 800000 British homes had servants. After the First World War the numbers dropped as new career paths opened and social attitudes changed, wrote Ms Horn.
By 1969, the number of male servants had fallen to 12000 in the UK, declining further over the next four decades.
There were now about 8000 butlers in the UK, Mr Hirsch at Butler For You estimated.
The role of the modern butler is now closer to that of a personal assistant, helping to organise an employer's diary, as well as offering advice on etiquette, with discretion a must, Mr Watson explained.
Greycoat had 20000 people on its books, three times more than in 2008, Ms Salter said. Butler placements grew about 20% this year.
"Asia is coming up pretty strong now," Mr Watson said. Wealthy Chinese "are discovering that if you spend $8m on a villa with marble flooring, you need someone to come along who knows what they are doing".