Is this the best single graph available to track a family's stewardship of its financial capital? You decide.

I'm often in conversation with families and family office professionals about financial reporting. What graphs, formats, or presentation templates work best? How to visually explain things in ways that family members can understand? How to present complex material consistently, simply, and transparently? In this post I want to introduce a graph that I find particularly helpful for communicating with family members about their stewardship of their financial capital over time. As background, for me a good graphic illustrates something visually in a way that is more persuasive and communicative than can be achieved with words or numbers alone. In this case, the question to be answered visually is this: how is the family stewarding its financial capital over time? To answer that question requires a working definition of success for the family's financial capital. What is the family's goal for their financial capital? For most families, the answer boils down to this: at the very least, a family that wants to preserve its financial capital over time must seek to preserve purchasing power by beating…

What are the stages of integrating financial capital into one's life? How do you know if someone has done so successfully?

I have always believed that "integration" of financial wealth is one of the simplest ways to explain the goal of those that inherit or suddenly come into financial capital. The aim is not just to "preserve" financial wealth over generations. The goal is healthy, mature, adult family members who have integrated their financial wealth into their lives to the extent that they are able to deploy it (in business, personal, or philanthropic ways) productively without shame or fear. But ... how can you know whether someone has integrated financial wealth fully? What are the clues, signs, or observable consequences

of successful integration? To answer this question, I'm going to borrow from Michael Beckwith's wonderful "to me," "by me," "through me," and "as me" framework--which I love, and which has in turn been borrowed by one of my favorite resources, the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. If you don't know this framework, it's worth checking out. I am also borrowing throughout from the intellectual history on integration laid down by my compatriot Jay Hughes in his various books, particularly (and most recently) from The Cycle of the Gift and The Voice of the Rising Generation. Finally, by way of introduction let…

How does a family with more than 1000 cousins and over 700 family shareholders keep thriving 100 years into their family enterprise?

My wonderful friend Ruth Steverlynck recently sent me the link to this video of Mr. Antoine Mayaud, of Association Familiale Mulliez (AFM), talking about his family enterprise. I will post it without much comment, other than that it articulates perfectly the dilemma that each generation faces -- between going it alone and throwing in together. Other highlights include his two horses, one furrow discussion, his discussion of love, the focus on maximizing freedom for each…

What does planning for a family's 100-year future mean in the context of climate change? How can business families talk about the threat of a changing climate?

The central assumption in most family enterprise books, workshops, and advice is that a business family should work to sustain its financial and human capital for multiple generations. The "great families," we are told, think in 100-year time frames and lay plans to survive seven generations or more. "Keeping it in the family" often means propagating financial assets and handing them down to further the family's interests over a long period of time. The

last few decades have seen massive concentration of wealth into the hands of a relatively few such families, and a massive explosion of consultants and advisors (myself included) offering to help them plan for an extended, multigenerational family legacy. Family offices, private trust companies, family foundations, and perpetual trusts are all designed to preserve a family's control of its human and financial capital for many generations. And ... in October, 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel…

What is a family learning curriculum? How should it be structured? And how can it address human capital, learning capital, social capital, legacy capital, and financial capital?

Many multigenerational enterprising families have learning goals: to bring younger family members up to speed on the workings of the family business or financial assets; to create family cohesion around a vision or sense of purpose; to educate beneficiaries about the workings of trusts, family partnerships, a private trust company, or other legal structures; to bring family members into the family's philanthropic efforts; and so on. These goals may be more or less articulated, but they are often evident in the way a family sets their agenda for family meetings and other learning events. My focus in this post is on how those goals should inform a family's long-term learning plan. As a long-time educator, I am used to the notion of a curriculum--a sequence of courses that together lead a student through a deepening understanding of an area of study. To become expert at something, you don't just begin with an advanced course in the subject (e.g., Econ 300). Instead, you begin at the beginning, learning introductory material first and then building on that…