Broker Check
Wealth = Responsibility

Wealth = Responsibility

| December 17, 2019

Recently, I attended a half-day seminar on how to leave a lasting legacy behind for your family with Legacy Capitals.

My main takeaway was that, for those who we can get to a point where they are okay financially and on track, there is a next level of planning that we can potentially help you with.

Rough notes below:

If you really are thinking long term, there are things that you can do to have a positive impact on your family for, perhaps, the next 50 or 100 plus years. 

This note is my effort to convey to you some of the ideas that might be applicable and impactful for your families.

The speaker comes from a real-world experience.  His name is Vincent Valeri, and his family used to make microchips for many companies like Blackberry and Nortel networks.  Unfortunately, Nortel was a huge Canadian telephone company that ultimately went out of business about ten years ago and had serious problems since the dotcom crash.

He describes himself as a spoiled brat where his first car was a Porsche at age 16.  He had a lot of self-esteem issues and dysfunctional relationships with money and people until he started to “figure things out” around age 28. 

Now, as a father of a young child and a husband, he has his priorities in check and is sharing the lessons he’s learned to help people leave a meaningful legacy and build

In financial planning, there are technical areas like retirement planning, which I feel like we're very good at for clients that want to go through that process. 

Though, perhaps we can step it up for those who can benefit from conversations and planning around shared values, expectations, and stewardship.  We're happy to listen and to guide the conversation with relevant questions to help facilitate.

Today only about 50% of families have a will, and, of those, most haven’t communicated it to the next generations. 

Most families don't like to talk about estate planning but yet would like to leave peace and calm behind instead of chaos. 

They brought up the Selective Attention study of the people playing basketball and instructed to count the number of passes, meanwhile a gorilla walks by in the background, and most people don't realize it.  The “blindness” is from just focusing on the technical minutia of financial planning when we can miss the larger big picture that is more important.

Selective Attention: The capacity for, or process of, reacting to certain stimuli selectively when several occur simultaneously.

We are in the middle of a massive wealth transfer to the next generation.  Accenture estimates that $30 trillion will be transferred from one generation to the next in the next 30 to 40 years.

$30,000,000,000,000 Will Be Transferred to the Next Generation in the Next 40 Years

Unfortunately, 70% of that family wealth does not make it past the second generation.  It's the “Shirt Sleeves to Shirt Sleeves in Three Generations” proverb, or for Vincent, who is Italian, the “Stable to the Stars and Back Again.”

Good plans for families can go 100 years out, and if your kids don't talk about money and have good relationships with it, your grandchildren aren't going to talk about it and have good relationships with money either.  Dysfunction, however, quietly flows to the next generation by observing our behaviors. 


  • Family businesses contribute 60% of the United States gross domestic product.
  • Eighty percent of wealthy individuals plan to transfer their wealth to the next generation, but only 45% have an actual plan in place.

For example, one of the partners at Vincent’s firm had no idea that her father was exceptionally wealthy.  But at age 21, he was given three months to live, and she learned of the quickly occurring asset transfer on his death bed from the family advisors.  She was not prepared for the enormous responsibility, risks, emotional issues, or how to be a good steward of the capital. It wasn’t her fault. 

I get the impression that Vincent and his team don’t “need” to work in the traditional sense, but they definitely want to help others do better.

One of the ways that we can help you facilitate these conversations, is to continue offering help educating your adolescents, college kids, and adult children in their 20s with financial advice and brainstorming around their personal situation.  Also, if preferred, we can have them meet with younger advisors at our firm whom they might better resonate with.

Technology has freed up so much time to talk to clients, but we don't think that the robots are going to take the human connection away.

Why do I care about this? 

From a selfish perspective, one of the opportunities is to have the satisfaction of making a greater impact on my clients and their descendant's lives.  Plus, it can be a new challenge and talk about a legacy to leave behind! 

While this is not a typical conversation we have with clients, I can't help but think that this may be what it's all for. We know the legacy: the life that your work and passion has created for your family and beyond. What we cannot see is how heavy the weight of the legacy falls on the next in line- who may or may not be ready or prepared for it. My hope is to start helping them prepare for the weight of the legacy.

STATS on where things breakdown in the business of being a family:

  • 60% are from poor communication and trust within the family unit
  • 25% is due to the heirs being inadequately prepared
  • 15% is due to technical issues such as legal and tax planning (This is where we normally spend the most time!)

Most of the planning is focused on “preparing the assets for the family”, but little planning is on “preparing the family for the assets”. 

Vincent's mother was not prepared to handle what I would guess was deca-millions or perhaps more, and as a result, she ended up spending a great deal of it and creating a dysfunctional environment for her children. 

We, too, unfortunately, see the softer issues that you don't think about which break up families and complicate relationships.  Sometimes, even within months of someone passing, the kids are already fighting, and with hurt feelings and things left unsaid that may never be resolved. 

If possible, we want to figure out how to get the older generation, that is often uncomfortable discussing leaving money behind, to embrace the idea of leaving a proactive legacy.  This will better capture their life, family traditions, history, life stories, values, and wishes.

Many investors are concerned about arguments over the inheritance that they leave behind, and we can help plan some of that in concert with your estate planning attorney.  Socially responsible and other investing themes are also top of mind, and we stand prepared to implement those mandates.  Tax planning is important, as well, and with the tax code constantly in flux, keeping up with opportunities is important.

The most important goals for high net worth investors are having a clear understanding of their financial goals and plans.  Investment performance is table stakes; what counts is appropriate asset allocation, good communication, transparency, fiduciary duty, and low fees. 


71% of high net worth people have children, but only 17% are having personal financial discussions with their children; this is a recipe for disaster.

One way that we can engage with your kids if desired is to ask us to start connecting with them via our regular email newsletter and social media channels, if at all desired.

This extra level of planning is not for everybody.  It would have to be something that your family is interested in.  But adopting the thoughtful mindset of leaving behind a legacy and identifying what your core values are can apply to everyone.

Vincent talks about his tool for planning called “The Family Balance Sheet” which can be abbreviated as “FISHS”

Financial - assets, liabilities, ownership, equity

Intellectual - intellectual, formal education, then experience and wisdom

Social - the network of relationships inside and outside the family and the quality of these relationships

Human - values, passions, likes, interests, gifts, and internal wiring of a person

Spiritual - one's value, one's purposes, one's faith, and the courage to live them out


Financial: You need to have a goals-based financial plan, understand the estate plan, and make sure it supports your vision of what your wealth can accomplish, and finally have a clear understanding of various assets and the intended purpose of each asset. 

Intellectual: Have a mentor who offers guidance and provides accountability to goals.  The family is strategic about planning travel together that provides not only just fun together, but growth opportunities and intentionally designed activities to learn and grow together.   

Social: Know who's in your inner circle of relationships, regularly invest enough time and energy to keep those relationships thriving, leverage your influence and community circles respectively and use them to benefit others as well as yourself.   

Human:  Invest personal time into cultivating unique passions and interests, know your strengths and articulate them concisely to others, and invest time and energy to maintain health and fitness. 

Spiritual:  Recognize that wealth and status are a part of but not the center of your identity, identify the purpose of your life.  There are greater things than financial success  alone, and you should be able to articulate this.  Purpose is the a legacy that you hope to leave the world, and have goals and strategy and sharing time, talent, treasure, and service to others. 



Vincent's father didn't mean to spoil him by giving him the Porsche at age 16.  His father came to the US as an immigrant from a poor bombed-out town in Italy, and simply wanted to give his son what he didn't have.  It's easy to assume people are terrible for spoiling their kids, but you have to keep in mind where they're coming from and why they're motivated to do that.

They are seeing a lot of wealthy families now do purposeful travel, which can include volunteering where disasters have struck, seeing people with more severe problems than  we are used to seeing in our day to day lives in the United States, etc.

It might help to think about some questions before we sit down or to contemplate and plan on your own.   

  • For example, what's your first memory of money?   
  • What are your attitudes about money?   
  • What are your money scripts” or beliefs about money from your childhood?   
  • What does this money represent to you?   
  • What is your family's legacy?   
  • What is the most important gift that you wish to leave your children and grandchildren? 
  • What do you feel that your money is for?  (Retirement, education, security, charity, to express our values, etc.) 
  • What are doing to prepare your children for the wealth that they will be inheriting? 
  • What kind of values do you want to pass on, and what do you want the money to do for your family's future? 

Keep in mind that no matter what, your money will essentially go to one of three places: 

  1. Family 
  2. Charity 
  3. Government 

It is important to you where it goes?

At a certain level of wealth, you can get money going on a regenerative path to keep it intact long term along with your family values.

Anxiety and conflict tend to go through your family system. 

My dad used to say, "You're only as happy as your unhappiest kid."  Keep that in mind, as failing to plan can get things messed up quickly. 

We went through about 50 common values that people have around money and wealth.  The ones that stood out most to me were:

  • Quality time (not doing) with family and others I care about.
  • Financial independence.
  • Harmonious relationships with, and among family members.
  • Close relationships with others from all levels of wealth.
  • Formal education through undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • Being clear on what (e.g., values) I want to transfer to my children/grandchildren other than financial assets.
  • Living a life of moderation.


Wealthy families with closely held businesses need a family employment policy. 

The speaker said that he had a client that had an epiphany and said “It took me 10 years to achieve my goal of getting my dream house.  A week later, it was just a house.”  He learned it was the work ethic about making an impact that matters, and that's what he needed to pass along to my family.

These deep conversations are rare but can be very valuable to all involved.

Have we discussed your family's values and priorities?  If not, we now have some tools to help facilitate a conversation about your highest values and priorities. 

Have we accessed the parent's business of family dynamics?  What are your wealth transfer intentions?

Have you have shared with the next generation information the money and wealth transfer?  We should prepare them for the inevitable experience.  This does not mean that you have to talk to them about the actual amount of money involved. 

However, it does mean that your shared family values, your expectations, and their readiness are intentionally planned for; otherwise, the statistics show that most wealth will not survive the 2nd and 3rd generations. 

For clients that are retired, now that you're in retirement, it's important to potentially involve your children and their spouses into the work today and prepare them for their eventual inheritance and, more importantly, make sure they are clear on your intended legacy. 

Once mom and dad have an idea of their intended legacy, read that out loud with the kids.  It can be very powerful and memorable.


Thanks for taking a look!




This article represents opinions of the authors and not those of their firm and are subject to change from time to time, and do not constitute a recommendation to purchase and sale any security nor to engage in any particular investment or legal strategy. The information contained here has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed for accuracy.  


Fantastic stuff, thanks for sharing. This gives us some great tools for conversations we should be having with our clients. [CA1]