In this series, we’re helping you with your generational wealth management planning. In Part 1, we shared advice on how to create family and professional wealth management teams. While those groups provide an essential infrastructure, holding family meetings is the solid foundation on which your wealth management strategy and generational wealth transfer plans will be built. Here, in Part 2, we explain why that’s the case, then share tips for what to discuss and how to use these gatherings to create a family wealth mission statement.
Why are family wealth management meetings important?
A cornerstone of generational wealth management planning is understanding that your legacy is more than just money. You also need to transfer values and behaviors. Family finance meetings can help you pass on those values to future generations, and explain how those values led to success and why they’re important to maintain.
For instance, a family might explain a particular set of behaviors or beliefs that brought them to this point, such as higher education, integrity and an entrepreneurial spirit. Then they can discuss how maintaining those behaviors can help the next generation keep the wealth in the family well into the future.
Family wealth management meetings also are an opportunity to discuss the family’s history — how was the wealth created? And to examine its purpose — what do you want to accomplish with the wealth in the near, mid- and long-term? Meetings also give family members the chance to update each other on life milestones, concerns, changing goals and so on.
For instance, one Hancock Whitney client has twice-annual meetings that family members are required to attend. The family discusses current estate and legacy plans, business ventures and opportunities. The current wealth managers share insights and stories about the family history, purpose and legacy, and touch base on health issues. But they also make it a fun retreat, so it isn’t all focused on finances.
Every family determines for themselves how often to meet and who should attend. Typically, families bring older individuals into the serious conversations, with the current wealth owners leading the council but everyone being encouraged to contribute. These individuals are then responsible for teaching financial skills to younger family members.
- Learn more about holding effective family financial meetings.
- Get tips to help your heirs develop wealth management skills.
What is a family mission statement and why is it important to create one?
Multi-generation wealth management meetings are the ideal place for creating a family mission statement. Like a corporate mission statement, the one for your family defines your principles, beliefs and core ideals, particularly around managing family wealth. It gives all generations a common vision of your values and goals.
Many wealthy individuals worry that their heirs will feel entitled and lose ambition if they know they’re going to inherit a large sum of money. The mission statement can act as a roadmap or guideline for how you want your descendants to conduct themselves in daily living, in business matters and in the community.
How do you write a family mission statement?
Involving second and third generations in creating a family mission statement can build trust and create a positive attitude toward the wealth transfer plan. So, many families begin with a brainstorming session as part of a family finance meeting agenda. The wealth owner may start by explaining what a family mission statement is, why it’s important and the steps the group will take to develop one.
During the brainstorm, everyone can share ideas on what to do with the family wealth. It’s less important that everyone agrees on every point than that every member feels their voice is heard and their opinion valued.
The discussion may start with a review of the family’s history, looking at the behaviors and actions that allowed the wealth to accumulate. Along with a historical perspective, families also can talk about how current family members have contributed. And don’t be afraid to review mistakes and what was learned from them.
Questions can be a good way to get people involved in the brainstorm, and family mission statement questions are limited only by your imagination. You might ask what makes your family different from other families, such as a common interest or unique family trait. Discuss what matters to you as a family, including family traditions and responsibilities. Consider whether family goals and objectives should be part of the mission statement. For instance, do you want to include a vision for what will happen to the family business — does it survive the current generation? Or will it be transferred to the next generation and, if so, who will have a role?
Assign one person to write down all ideas from the brainstorm. At the end of the meeting, or at a separate family finance meeting, review the ideas, prioritize them and narrow down the list until you get to the core ideas you feel describe your family and your wealth management vision. Then summarize those ideas into a statement.
There is no one correct way to write your statement. What you include and how you say it just need to be appropriate for your family. One family financial mission statement example might emphasize the values of being productive and pursuing higher education as the foundation of building wealth. Another might talk about the importance of hard work and sacrifice in building wealth, and a belief in frugality and conscious spending to maintain it. Yet another family financial mission statement might focus on being benevolent and compassionate, using the family wealth to support the local community and charitable organizations.
Once it’s complete, families may choose to make copies for every family member. You might also save a copy with your other wealth management and estate planning documents. Then be sure to review it regularly — such as at an annual family wealth management meeting — and revise it as needed.
But the family mission statement should also be integrated into the family’s daily life as a guide when making decisions. For instance, it might be considered when a grandchild is deciding whether to attend college or when someone is deciding how to manage a monetary gift.
Your financial professionals team can work with you and your family to implement the vision stated in your mission statement. That might mean developing instruments such as trusts and private foundations, guiding investment choices or other steps to help you ensure that today’s wealth transfers to future generations. Contact us to learn more with a personal discussion.
“Building a Values-Based, Multi-generation Estate Plan,” Colleen Marble, Wells Fargo Conversations, posted Feb. 15, 2023, https://conversations.wf.com/estate-planning/, accessed May 25, 2023
“Tips for Multigenerational Family Meetings,” Nancy Amick, Gary Shunk, Wells Fargo Conversations, posted Jan. 25, 2023, https://conversations.wf.com/family-meeting-benefits/, accessed May 25, 2023
“Prosperity with Purpose: Creating a Family Mission Statement,” Motley Fool Wealth Management, posted Nov. 23, 2022, https://foolwealth.com/insights/prosperity-with-purpose-creating-a-family-mission-statement, accessed May 25, 2023
“A Family Mission Statement: Why It’s Important and How to Write One,” As They Grow, https://www.as-they-grow.com/a-family-mission-statement, accessed May 25, 2023
The information, views, opinions, and positions expressed by the author(s), presenter(s), and/or presented in the article are those of the author or individual who made the statement and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions, and positions of Hancock Whitney Bank. Hancock Whitney makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented.
This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Information provided and statements made should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Hancock Whitney Bank encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.
Hancock Whitney Bank offers investment products, which may include asset management accounts, as part of its Wealth Management Services. Hancock Whitney Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hancock Whitney Corporation.
Investment and Insurance Products:
NO BANK GUARANTEE │ NOT A DEPOSIT │ MAY LOSE VALUE │ NOT FDIC INSURED │ NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY