Amy Hart Clyne, CFP, has dedicated her career to helping prosperous families fulfill the promise and potential of their legacies and achieve wealth momentum. Amy has more than 25 years of experience in the ultra-wealth space and at Pitcairn, she empowers wealthy families through family education while pioneering research and best practices that elevate the role of advisors to one of true partnership. She is also the founder of The Gen 7 Project, Pitcairn's thought leadership and learning community for families of wealth.

Russ Prince: What makes Pitcairn a true family office?
Amy Hart Clyne: Pitcairn is a full-service family office helping families navigate the challenges and opportunities created by the interplay of family and financial dynamics. Founded in 1922 to manage the financial affairs of the Pitcairn family, we have a century of experience providing a foundation for peace of mind to the families we serve. 

Since its inception, Pitcairn has partnered with some of the world’s wealthiest families to meet their needs and drive better outcomes—year to year, decade to decade, generation to generation. Rooted in our own family experience and enriched by our work with ultra-high-net-worth families and single-family offices, our distinctive Wealth Momentum approach focuses on a deeper and longer-term view of the family and financial dynamics that lead to better outcomes. We leverage advanced thinking and modern service innovations to set a new standard in multi-generational wealth stewardship. 

Prince: How have you worked with Pitcairn to elevate women within the firm as well as female clients? 
Clyne: Pitcairn is somewhat of an outlier in a male-dominated industry. The majority of Pitcairn employees are women. The female to male ratio is 53% to 47%. Women hold numerous leadership roles throughout the organization including CEO, chief knowledge and learning officer, director of operations, director of fiduciary and legal services, and other managing directors. 

Twenty-five years ago, we recognized that within the family office there was a real need to approach women differently than men. So, under the leadership of current CEO Leslie Voth, we launched the Women’s Forum at Pitcairn, in order to help women find their voices and become more active participants in their family’s wealth.

Prince: Based on your work with wealthy women, how do you see the role of female family leaders evolving and what should family offices know about serving this clientele? 
Clyne: My new book, Finding Her Voice & Creating a Legacy: Portraits of Pioneering Women Leading Wealthy Families, co-authored by Dennis T. Jaffe, Ph.D., started as basic research to help better understand the role women play in very wealthy families and, and it grew from there. The book is an important addition to the wealth management field because at a time when women are heads of state and Fortune 500 CEOs, in ultra-high-net-worth families, they are still too often kept in the background by longstanding conventions and complex intergenerational dynamics.

In this book, these women family leaders, regardless of age, are identified as the “new matriarchs” who are challenging traditional gender roles. They haven’t completely shunned the traditional matriarchal construct, but are reshaping it as caretakers and corporate leaders, family stewards and financial stakeholders. They are advocates and models of greater equality, as well as examples of what women’s sensitivity and gender experience can bring to family leadership.

When conducting these interviews, we couldn’t help seeing the many implications for the family office and wealth management advisory audience. So, as the study progressed, we asked quite simply, “How could advisors use this information to better serve women of wealth?” 

The answers, drawn directly from the conversations with these women, are as fundamental as they are foreign to dated client relationship practicum. There are six things women want their advisors to do:

1. Shed legacy-advisory mindset. One woman became the family leader on her husband’s death, removed the legacy team after several months of working with them because she found they continued in a traditional “caretaking” role and didn’t want to make changes in managing her relationship. “I didn’t want to be only taken care of,” she said. “I wanted to learn and become more confident with decisions.” 

2. Capitalize on coaching. Women tend to be more open to the concept of coaching and those women whose advisors served more as coaches than “advisors” had greater success in achieving their goals of understanding the wealth and feeling good about decisions related to the wealth and family. 

3. See and share their future. The women of wealth agreed that the best advisor is the one who can help them see their future in a big-picture way, inclusive of all their roles as a leader, mother, grandmother, career woman, and so on. But such an advisor relationship was not accessible to all of them. 

4. “Lean in” to both spouses. While a husband was open to and welcomed the partnership of his wife, their most highly valued advisors were the ones who proactively worked in terms of shared understanding and decision-making for both spouses. “My advisor appreciated that my husband wanted me to learn, even though it slowed us down and the advisor had to explain more, do more, work harder,” one woman said. Others noted their surprise and delight when that rare advisor didn’t wait for the invitation, but gently urged the wife’s participation. 

5. Represent like-minded female leadership . Two families changed advisors because they wanted to find someone who would work well with family members from all generations. One woman shared that she and her husband first “tested” advisors and their commitment to the female members of her family. Would they receive similar support and development over time? In the end, they liked best the female leaders in the advisory firm—both for their influence and their commitment to educate the children. Many couples now have a discrete criterion for engagement to have female advisors and an assurance that their female children will have a voice. 

6. Honor the family and its dynamics. In ways that were often not as important to their spouses, our women participants sought out advisors who both understood the family dynamics and served as financial leaders. One multigenerational family, bound by a large family trust, experienced significant sibling conflict in which some voices rang louder than others. For those who felt disenfranchised, enormous comfort and reassurance was created by advisors who worked in both a “family” and an “individual household” capacity, cognizant of the differences.

It’s our hope that this research begins to form a foundation of new thinking and a new focus on women of wealth. Since our first conversations, we have expanded this project to now include conversations with more women from more walks of life around the globe. At the same time, we’ll continue to mine our existing conversations for further insights and share those findings and their implications for various stakeholders. 

Request a complimentary PDF copy of Elite Wealth Planning: Lessons from the Super Rich at [email protected].