High-net-worth family members need to be able to freely share information about their wealth, concluded a group of women family office clients who met recently to discuss a range of financial topics.
The meeting, in Palm Beach, Fla., was hosted by GenSpring Family Offices, based in Jupiter, Fla. One of the goals of the gathering was to discuss what different generations of wealthy women, who ranged in age from 21 to 91, have in common and how they can facilitate solutions in areas where family members disagree.The women have at least $25 million in assets.
The subject of transparency about family money, one of the hot button topics, is complicated by factors that often divide along generational lines, says the report from the meeting, The Generational Divide. “Accept that times have created generational gaps, which require time and energy to bridge,” GenSpring advises.
“Historically, privacy around money has been core to the values of the senior generations. For them, discussing money, incomes or inheritance was not promoted by society or acceptable,” GenSpring reports. “Another factor is the controlling matriarch or patriarch who was raised on these values and finds it difficult to adapt to a changing culture.”
To overcome the problem, the women advised family members to understand the impact of generational norms and divides [and to] discuss these divisions in a cross-generational forum. A facilitator can help guide the discussions for a more successful outcome.
Younger generations should develop the competencies necessary to demonstrate their wish to prepare for the future and be responsible. “This can go a long way toward gaining the trust of strong controlling family leaders,” GenSpring says.
“Family leaders should encourage the mindset that it is OK to challenge and question. Creating a safe forum for these discussions adds to the likelihood these exchanges will be successful,” the women concluded.
Some of the other hot button issues discovered by the women in roundtable discussions included that members of all generations often generalizing about members of other generations leading to the feeling that ‘everybody’ in another generation acts a certain way.
Older generations were often blamed for giving unsolicited parenting advice or of wanting to hang onto tradition and younger generations were accused of wanting immediate gratification.
“Geographic dispersion, busy schedules, judgmental attitudes, gossip and hurt feelings were identified as factors that seriously impact communication," GenSpring says. Families that have generational problems should work with their advisors and with GenSpring’s Family Education to facilitate communication, GenSpring says.