The world is beginning the largest wealth transfer in history. Every year for the next 30 years, $1 trillion will pass from the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) to the Millennials (1980-2000) in the US alone. A successful transition will require a great deal of planning; planning influenced by an understanding of the complexities of each generation. In this article, we will focus on the ‘wealthy inheritor’ subset of the Millennials and what we have found to be the common desire among this group of future family leaders. It might be easy to think that these inheritors all want the latest gadget, car or fashion item but our experience shows us that this particular group desire these top five things above all else.
1. Meaningful connection
Despite seemingly being connected and having hundreds of friends or followers on social media, the Millennial “digital natives” crave real and authentic connection. Did you know, 8 in 10 sleep with their mobile phones, 76% spend over an hour on Facebook every day and a third send over 100 texts a day? They are the most globally aware, tech savvy and racially diverse of all generations.
Whilst we can all relate to feeling overly connected and always on, this is harder for wealthy inheritors as they grapple with who their genuine friends are and also struggle to share their problems for fear of not been taken seriously, or getting the rolled eyes “How do you have any problems?” as if money should make it all go away. A client recently said, “I can’t talk to my friends about what it’s like, they don’t get it. Who else has family meetings and discusses prenup agreements?”
2. Be known for who they are
Ever wondered what perks you could get having a last name like Rinehart, Packer or Murdoch? It may sound appealing (imagine the doors that would open!) but our clients tell us it can be difficult to be in the shadow of the family name. They want to be known for who they are on their own terms; stripping away the family name and legacy. It’s often widely quoted that wealth can be both a bounty and a burden. On the one hand, there are great opportunities but on the other there are judgement and high expectations. It can be hard to escape preconceived notions of who you should be, how you should act and a reputation that precedes you wherever you go.
A young female client said, “The happiest day of my life was when I married my husband. I married the man of my dreams, and my last name changed”. We have also seen this notion of identity play out in more formative relationships, “Is she genuinely interested in me, or boy, is she only interested because of my family’s money?”.
3. Strive towards their own purpose
For Millennials, it can be challenging to find their calling and a fulfilling career, especially in this dynamic new era where the only constant is change. For wealthy inheritors, this journey can be a little more fraught as they battle with expectations and pressures (real or perceived) from within the family to pursue certain career paths or become involved in the family business. Being Millennials, they are also likely to be motivated by passions rather than simply money and success. We saw a very creative son with a passion for marketing pursue a MBA because he thought he would need to assume the role as CEO in the family business as his siblings didn’t work in the business. His father, recognising his skills and passion, was considering appointing a non-family member CEO to the growing business. They were relieved to have a conversation and clear up their vision for the family business and their roles within it. The son then refocused his study and became the Head of Marketing within the business, enabling the business to benefit from his talents and for him to realise his potential.
We also see values and purpose driving wealthy inheritors’ investment and giving strategies. Not satisfied with vanilla investment portfolios or “cheque book” giving, wealthy inheritors want their portfolios to yield a social and environmental return in addition to financial returns (and won’t accept a lower financial return to achieve it). They also want to empower social entrepreneurs and social enterprise through their giving.
4. Learn from others’ experiences
Wealthy inheritors understand they are going to be in a position of responsibility in the family in the future; be that helping to manage a family foundation, looking after the family wealth or working within an operating business. They want to connect with others in a similar situation; hearing from other generations, families and businesses.
On a recent Family Retreat attended by 30 fourth generation inheritors, the most highly rated session was one where the older (wiser) generation shared their experience of growing up in the family – the good, the bad and the ugly. It was open, honest, real and relatable and forged a deeper connection across generations within the family.
5. Speak the same language
The number one concern of many of the families we work for boy, is raising responsible children. There is no shortage of literature on this topic from the likes of Jay Hughes, Fredda Herz Brown, Dennis Jaffe and Lee Hausner. The fundamentals of the literature espouse preparing inheritors for their future responsibilities by engaging them within the business of the family or the family business and education. However, just any sort of knowledge or education won’t do for this generation. Often suffering information overload and with any question easily answered by a simple Google search, relevance and interest trump all else.
When trying to connect or involve younger family members, are you speaking their language and communicating in a way that resonates and engages? Have you created a safe and open environment and assumed no prior knowledge? Are discussions and content relevant to their level of readiness rather than their age? Have they contributed to the topics or content? Have you asked them what they’d like to learn about and what interests them?
We are constantly inspired by the future leaders of the families we work with. They are talented, dedicated, passionate and committed. By understanding their real desires as outlined above, you can help them to understand their place within the family and realise their goals.
Mutual Trust Pty Ltd ACN 004 285 330 (AFSL 234590). Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. For participating members (other than for the acts or omissions of Australian Financial Services Licensees). This information is general in nature and subject to change. It does not constitute tax, legal or financialadvice. We recommend you seek advice specific to your circumstances before taking any action. Copyright © 2014 Mutual Trust Pty Ltd.