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7 Keys to Unlocking Family Wealth

Key 1:  Human Capital
Identify and honor each family member’s individual pursuit of happiness. Enhancing each individual’s happiness ultimately enhances the family as a whole. Respecting the family as a collective of unique individuals forms a family that is separate and connected.

Key 2:  Strong Family Identity

Tradition and rituals that get passed on to each generation connect the family members to each other and provide strength and unity. It tells each member, “This is who we are…This is how we do things…This is how we celebrate…”

Key 3:  Family History
Creating and telling stories give meaning to the experience of the family. These stories develop a sense of the family’s uniqueness and help to integrate new members. They aid the family in dealing with losses and transitions. Families can share their heritage by developing family trees, documenting their stories and cherishing fond memories. What stories do justice to your family’s history?

Key 4:  Shared Values
Shared values underpin decision making in every core family function from child-rearing to estate planning. They help the family do things that are difficult – like making commitments and sticking to plans. It’s valuable for individual members to form a social compact reflecting their shared values. Each generation can re-affirm and re-adopt this social compact. A dynamic, resilient value system can be a valuable enduring living legacy one generation can leave the next.

Key 5:  A System of Joint Decision Making
A family that runs smoothly is free to nurture and expand upon the most positive elements of its heritage. Representative governance is fundamental to a family’s well-being by setting family policy, articulating vision and mission, and fostering family cohesiveness. Effective governance requires accountability. Develop a system of checks and balances. Where does your family want to be in 25 years?

Key 6:  Good Communication and Conflict Management
When family members support each other’s efforts to improve their interactions, they can reach goals much faster than they could alone. Conflict is often made more complicated because different families have different patterns of conflict, often the result of cultural background. There is no right or wrong pattern. What feels normal to one family may seem intolerable to another. Take an inventory on your family’s communication as a whole, looking at strengths and weaknesses.

Key 7:  Generosity
The choice of giving can increase the family’s store of social capital, so that it has larger amounts of it to share with everyone with whom it interacts. Family philanthropy creates an experience of working together on something larger than the family itself.


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