Yearly Archives: 2010

Wealthy parents: “When ‘no’ is the most important word privileged kids hear”

In an article in the Investment section of December 14 Globe and Mail, Thane Stenner, Director of wealth management at Richardson GMP in Canada, wrote:

“Most successful high-net-worth parents I know have thought carefully about the message they’re sending when they give their kids money. While they are generous with their children when it comes to giving them an education, life-enriching experiences, family vacations and the like, these parents are cautious with allowances and major gifts, trust funds, and other direct financial assistance. They tell their kids early and often that they expect them to be full, productive members of society and financially independent from the family.” Stenner gives examples of times when wealthy parents did not follow this path, and the unfortunate consequences that ensued.

Read the article:

The Downside of Inherited Wealth

“Handing down wealth to kids is often a no-win situation. Parents work hard to earn money to leave to their kids. Then they have to work to offset the impact of the money on their kids’ lives. Even then, the results aren’t always successful. … A new survey from Los Angeles-based Bel Air Investment Advisors, surveying wealth kids and their families attending a ‘next generation’ seminar, show that families are well aware of the pitfalls of inherited wealth — yet they keep passing it down. More than half agreed that ‘wealth has made it hard to live up to the success of parents or previous generations.”

Excerpt from a blog by Robert Frank, “The Wealth Report: Robert Frank looks at the lives and culture of the wealthy” Wall Street Journal

Comment from The Inheritance Project: I believe that this advice is true and accurate. And it is sad!  My next blog entry will reveal more from this article. Stay tuned.

Barbara Blouin

Family Business Fights, Part 2

Mark’s conclusion from an enormous family-business fight in his extended family led him to conclude that “Family business fights are terrible.” Mark is a lawyer in a midwestern city and has extensive experience with families caught up in fighting over business assets. He continues:

“The whole nasty experience [in my family] has taught me a few things that have proven useful in my work. And because of all the publicity over my family’s litigation, I tend to attract a lot of clients who are caught up in family business struggles. One thing I have learned is that very few family business disputes are ever about money. [Emphasis added] Money is what makes the warfare possible. The underlying motivation is: ‘I’m gonna make you do what I want you to do!’ Sometimes it gets even worse than that. Sometimes it’s: ‘Im gonna figure out a way that you can’t do what you want, just to show you who’s boss!’ ”

Please look for Part 3 of this account about multi-generational struggles over family businesses in the coming days.

Barbara Blouin, Labors of Love: The Legacy of Inherited Wealth, Book II, Inheritance Project

Family business fights are terrible

Mark is a lawyer whose extended family owned newspapers and TV stations in a midwestern city. They were one of the wealthiest families in the city where they lived. Sadly, some members of the second generation—the children of the wealthmakers—got embroiled in nasty litigation over the family assets. The fighting dragged on for many years, consumed big gobs of their assets, and tore the family apart. Mark: “This enormous rupture had a very negative impact on my generation, and I consider that to be a tragedy. Family businesses are very much wrapped up in a family’s identity, so it was a big blow to me when we sold all the businesses, and I know it was a big blow to my dad. I have hardly any contact anymore with my cousin Jack, who I grew up with. … My wife is very bitter about the whole thing because she saw what it did to me. Family business fights are terrible.” Please return to read  the sequel to this post.

Barbara Blouin, Labors of Love: The Legacy of Inherited Wealth, Book II, The Inheritance Project

Marrying into money — beware!

Raleigh Jordan (a pseudonym) grew up very wealthy and very sheltered— truly in the lap of luxury. When she was in her early twenties she married a man who made her pregnant:

“A day or two before I married this guy, I was sitting in an obstetrician’s office, and I read a statistic in a magazine about the odds of men who are not wealthy or from the upper classes marrying heiresses. This was in 1959. The odds of being a poor boy with no assets and no background marrying a wealthy heiress was one in fourteen million. It was as if Cassandra and the whole Greek chorus were chanting to me, ‘Beware!  Beware!’”

from The Legacy of Inherited Wealth: Interviews with Heirs, Barbara Blouin and Katherine Gibson, The Inheritance Project/Trio Press


“The idea of sufficiency or “enough” is more important than ever at this time of global economic uncertainty. The kind of sufficiency that I am talking about is not actually an amount. It is a way of being, seeing and living. The principle of sufficiency is this: If you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, what you have expands. Another shorter, perhaps easier to grasp way of saying this: What you appreciate… appreciates. Gratitude is central to recognizing and acknowledging the sufficiency of what’s already there. When we turn our love and attention away from what we think we need to what we already have — financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually — and nourish it, express it, and most importantly, share it,experiences of profound prosperity, wholeness and sufficiency flood our lives.Embracing sufficiency thus becomes a radical step that will transform our understanding of economics and of wealth.

From The Soul of Money web site

Feeling Very Different

“Wherever I have gone, I have been quite aware of being wealthy, having always been wealthy, having always had money, never having had to worry about money. I’m very conscious of it, and it causes me to feel guarded, not in the sense of not letting know because they might take some of it but guarded almost in a confusion of embarrassment or apology. It isn’t shame, it’s a sense of, ‘uh oh, if this gets out, I’ll have to apologize.’ ”

From “Raleigh Jordan,” The Legacy of Inherited Wealth: Interviews with Heirs, by Barbara Blouin and Katherine Gibson, Trio Press/The Inheritance Project

Love and Money in Wealthy Families … Often a Big Tangle

Here is a second excerpt from Wealth Counseling: A Guide for Therapists and Inheritors Dennis Pearne, Trio Press/Inheritance Project, 1999

“Love is frequently confused with money in wealthy families. Parents who are away a lot may try to make up for their absences with gifts. They may also use money, instead of love and approval, to attempt to influence behavior and shape a child’s development. Continue reading