Monthly Archives: January 2011

Diana Garrett’s story, Part 3: managing a large, multigenerational family

Please scroll down to read parts 1 and 2 of this story. Since the second installment, Diana has taken on the management of the family office.

“As defined by the family office, our family consists of my father and his sister and all their descendants—about 60 people altogether. Among our duties, my staff and I are responsible for family meetings. We have two or three meetings a year and an annual family reunion—just for pure pleasure. We also administer the grantmaking for the family foundation, and we act as a custodian and fiduciary for five or six trusts. We are the place where the family members who manage the business and the other family shareholders come together and communicate about matters of mutual interest. Finally, we offer family members assistance with financial planning or estate planning.”

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

Edgar Bronfman Jr. charged in France with insider trading

On Friday, January 21, major newspapers reported that Edgar Bronfman, Jr., the primary heir of the Seagram fortune, was charged with insider trading on a massive scale. Here is part of an article from the Globe and Mail: “A French court, in a surprise ruling, on Friday convicted and fined Warner Music Group chairman and chief executive officer Edgar Bronfman Jr. for insider trading and former high-flying Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier for misusing company funds and misleading investors. Mr. Bronfman, a former executive vice-president of Vivendi Universal, was fined €5-million ($6.7-million U.S.) and given a 15-month suspended sentence for insider trading around the Vivendi media conglomerate when he was a top executive there. Mr. Messier was handed a three-year suspended prison sentence and a €150,000 fine.” Continue reading

Teaching by Example, Part 2: Entering into a family business

This is the second installment of the true story entitled “Diana Garrett,” from Labors of Love: The Legacy of Inherited Wealth, Part II.

“When my four brothers and my sister and I were in our early twenties, we started to have family meetings every two or three years. My father was, as usual, thinking ahead—this time about succession in the business. He was trying to understand for himself where all his children stood in their relationship to the business, and to the assets he had given us. Those meetings were completely controlled and run by our father. He created the agendas, he controlled the discussions, and he talked about what he wanted to talk about. I don’t think it ever occurred to him to ask us what we might want to have on the agenda, or what we might to talk about. But those meetings began an educational process designed to help us understand what the future of the business might look like. And we talked through most of the decisions he had made that could result in our acquiring wealth over a period of time.”

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

Teaching children by example, Part 1

This comes from a chapter of Diana Garrett’s interview in Labors of Love: The Legacy of Inherited Wealth, Book II. Excerpts from this unusually uplifting story will continue in the following two or three weeks.

“My father’s family business is in the small town in New England where I was born. Growing up in a small town helped create a sense of security and rootedness in me that reinforced the confidence with which I think I was born. Because my parents had very egalitarian views, my siblings and I never felt that we were superior. It was only after I left home that I began to get a sense of how we might have been different from our peers.

Both my parents gave us a lot of encouragement to go out in the world and do good works. There was a clear message that you had a responsibility as a human being to be constructive and creative, and to contribute to society. But they didn’t make us do anything. Instead, they led their lives in a way that taught by example.

To be continued …

From Barbara Blouin, Labors of Love: The Legacy of Inherited Wealth, Book II, Inheritance Project, 2002.