This week I am continuing to present ideas and passages from Maps for Men: A Guide for Fathers and Sons and Family Businesses by father and son authors Edgell and Thomas Pyles.
On page 186, the Pyles’ reference Family Wealth: Keeping It in the Family by attorney and family business consultant James E. Hughes Jr. According to Hughes, the top reason for failure of transferring wealth across three generations “is that family leaders concentrate on the family’s financial capital to the exclusion of its human and intellectual capital.”
The Pyles’ go on to present results of a study by Dr. Dennis T. Jaffe with Wise Counsel Research. The researchers identified a set of seven core qualities common among families whose net worth exceeds $200 million who, through at least three generations, have successfully transitioned their wealth. Among these: Active development of human capital.
When it’s so important, why is this core quality so often neglected? The Pyles’ research shows that the reasons are primarily psychological. Loss of trust, lack of communication exact a high price. Building relationships among family members; accepting weaknesses, developing strengths, encouraging ambitions, imparting values is essential for transitioning “talent” capital through the next generation, and thus ensuring the successful transitioning of monetary wealth as well.
The Pyles’ issue a warning: “Considerable creative and constructive effort can be directed at crafting sophisticated trust documents, elegant business plans, and family constitutions, but the keys to implementation are locked up in the family psychology.”