Is the above title a familiar expression?
At the May Colorado FPA chapter meeting, Courtney Pullen shared wisdom gleaned from interviewing scores of ultra high net worth families around the U.S. These are families who successfully navigate past the all-too-common phenomena: the siren call to shipwreck on the rocks of “shirtsleeve to shirtsleeve in three generations.”
They are families who “bet on the jockey.” Whether or not you or your clients are in this category, the principles still apply.
Warren Buffet said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” –to which I might add, “so, mitigate risk by bringing in the experts!”
The Ultra High Net Family
Let’s first consider the extraordinary feat these families accomplished. The wealth creator—miner, business entrepreneur or the like—finds his children struggle to maintain what he has created, and the grandchildren grow up entitled consumers of this wealth. While we might be attuned to the end result—the passing and growing of family financial wealth—the secret to doing so was a character-based decision.
These are families who take the time to discover and retell the stories that capture the values that became the family motto or mission statement. The founder’s values and stories of the literal blood, sweat and tears are the grain of sand around which the family can recast their generation’s purpose. They discover how to live out their sense of identity out of deep gratitude—rather than guilt, shame or embarrassment or entitlement—about the wealth and the freedom of choices it brings.
Place Your Bets!
Founders of wealth are intentional—they bet on the jockey. They realize that the intentionality that led to business success is the same intentionality they need to bring to their families. They are conscious about passing along the stories of how the family fortune is built on the values and sacrifice of that first generation. At the same time, these founders had the humility to realize they could not be experts at everything and to understand the value of having advisors.
How might this translate to your own life or to the “millionaires next door” or others that you might work with? One thing that technological advances will likely never replace is the intangibles of relationship, of love, of stories of struggle, discouragement, failure and recovery.
So, what does it have to do with advising clients? You can encourage yourself and your clients that
The most successful wealth creators and wealth inheritors have a balanced, empowered relationship with money. They have the assurance and perspective to know what they want as individuals and as a family. They respect the skills and expertise of their advisors and are willing to learn, but they also accept that the ultimate responsibility for wealth belongs to those who own it.
Here are a couple areas you might consider as you reflect on your work with clients.
- Advisors cannot lead clients where they have not gone themselves. Have you taken time to formulate your own mission statement?
- Do your clients “bet on the jockey”? If so, what have you done to cultivate that kind of relationship? If not, what can you do to start building that with your client?