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Is Your Family or Client Family "Stuck"?

Sometimes a family gets “stuck.” Family members and their advisors see this and are concerned about it.

  • The family may be unable to move forward with making decisions, attendance at family meetings is inconsistent, and communication between siblings is decreasing. 

  • There may be a fear to talk about the estate plan or expectations, or communication only happens from the top down.  

  • Wealth creators have concerns their offspring may not stay together after they are gone. 

  • The next generation is unprepared to manage wealth and therefore left in the dark, or there is a growing rift between those that are in the family business and those who are not. 

In many families cordial hypocrisy becomes an acceptable norm disguising an undercurrent of distrust that everyone is aware of and is afraid to talk about for fear of making things worse. Pretending everything is fine and relying on the estate plan gives a false sense of security.   It’s like avoiding going to the dentist when you have a toothache.  And when you finally get there, you say, “Everything is fine.”

The cost of doing nothing to become “unstuck”puts the hard-earned wealth, and the family itself at risk.

Left unaddressed, distrust in families often evolves into resentment and ultimately resignation.  You don’t have to look far to hear a tragic story of fortunes lost and families destroyed over a lack of trust and poor communication.  The very opportunities the wealth was intended to provide are marginalized. Great wealth does not equal great happiness. 

The responsibility of creating a family culture where it is safe to engage in challenging conversations about the roles and responsibility of continuing the family legacy falls on family leadership.  That may require learning how to have conversations about money in new ways to ensure the outcome is productive and sustainable.

Our process to bring a family together begins with a Family Readiness Assessment tool that measures their levels of trust and communication. The survey is conducted anonymously, is benchmarked against our proprietary research, and provides valuable information and recommendations on where a family should put its resources to ensure family unity.

We work closely with advisors by including them in family meetings at appropriate times. 

After a family has worked through the pending conversations and family dynamics that may be causing discord, we invite the advisor to the family meeting to implement the new strategies that emerge. 

This is a powerful meeting demonstrating how the team supporting the family works together in support of the family’s goals.

A typical engagement with a family of 6-8 people includes spouses and children over the age of 16 and with a family net worth exceeding $20 million. As a coaching organization, we work on a meeting-by-meeting basis as long as the family is finding value. We typically begin the process with an initial Family Readiness Assessment described above, and present the findings and recommendations to the family in person. The cost is $5,000 and in most cases, the advisor attends this meeting.

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