YESTERDAY I COMPLETED the final assignment of my Advanced Certificate in Family Business Wealth Advising. This was by way of a 3 hour Capstone Webinar with half a dozen of my fellow students and peers. I’ts this personal face to face or rather zoom meet up in small groups where I really find value. And exchange of ideas resulting in expanding my mind to new things. Listening to everyone else perspective on their practices and real life experiences is priceless. Just not in the text book. There are no right or wrong answers to the many conundrums in the family business setting, and it this freedom to express ideas amongst my peers that widens my horizon of possibilities.

I thought I would share some thoughts that came out of our fascinating gathering. Being a woman in business, in the family business space, in these utterly extraordinary times, where the great and the good will flourish or perish, it is so important to be that flexible open minded, creative thinker so we can bring value as we adjust to the new normal, whatever that may be.

FAMILY BUSINESS WEALTH ADVISING – Family offices are more and more transitioning into being more than wealth management for UHNW families. They are beginning to reflect the entrepreneurial spirit of the next generation. Doing business with each other, cemented by shared values.

We need to be talking about Legacy – what do we know UHNW families should be thinking and doing about their wealth for the benefit of the world. This is so much more than good giving with money. It’s a big of a romantic notion that a Foundation or Charitable Trust brings all members of the family together. In some cases is does, but even this need to evolve and reflect the aspirations of the future generations.

There is a role for a Chief Emotional Officer in the family office. Someone with skills, experience and a passion to get to the heart of every person in the family. Someone who can unlock and guide the family. Someone who always asks the question ‘why’? This leads me on to the important role that women can and need to play in the Wealth management and Family Office environment. I believe the power of a strong family is when both money and purpose in life are expressed, communicated and then acted on. Us girls are good at this. Most men find talking about personal things difficult and it’s much easier to deal with the technical, financial, legal, structures etc that don’t bite back!

It’s okay to say no to parents, and to furrow your own field, so long as it is with purpose, passion and a belief in being able to achieve in your own right. It’s okay not to tow the family line. It’s okay to want different things. It’s okay to have dreams. But as we know from experience, it’s so hard to open the lines of communication and keep them open, healthy and transparent. It’s a risky business isn’t it? And the truth can be hurtful, so things remain hidden.

And what is it with these millennial’s and Gen Z – What do they know? Know what? Reverse mentoring is so the next best thing. The world has changed forever mainly due to technology and this next generation of superstars and entrepreneurs can throw off the shackles of ‘how things have always been done. And if it ain’t broke …..’ Conversely the senior generation can shower their successors with wisdom and experience in buckets. The key is to allow a fluidity of thought, respect and a healthy expectation of all the future holds.

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO TALK ABOUT MONEY? How can the next generation being the conversation when their 70+ parents are still active and holding the reigns? As practitioners, how can we advise at grass roots level. What can we do to instil confidence in the next generation to find the words? I believe totally in wealth creation. I believe the more wealth that is generated in a family has the potential to make the biggest impact in changing the world and lives of those less fortunate. A shroud has no pockets, yet there is so much rubbish and conflict around control, greed, power, entitlement. And of course there is the tax man! What if another layer of family business wealth advising could include finding the words, leading the conversation, creating confidence, encouraging share of voice not just for the loudest?

Some things never change – there will always be the generation gap ….. but seriously ….. bring it on…. what are we waiting for?

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