A while back I began asking wealthy families two questions; “What do you want more of?” and “What are you most fearful of losing?”.

I wondered whether wealth and influence may feature given the universal reality that 90% of wealth fails to transition beyond the third generation. They didn’t.

Instead a common thread emerged: a desire for more meaning and purpose, a legacy to make life really count for something.

And their greatest fear? Losing their family. By this they meant estrangement, something they had so often seen devastate the families of their peers.

With trillions of dollars of wealth globally soon to transition to the next generation, families can no longer focus the lion’s share of attention on the physical creation, preservation and transfer of wealth.

“… families can no longer focus the lion’s share of attention on the physical creation, preservation and transfer of wealth.”

Portfolio management and governance based on rules and structures are necessary. But they must be underpinned with family values and shared purpose to provide continuity and clarity for the next generation in their future roles as custodians of family wealth and reputation.

Strengthening the family is the key to managing wealth. But how do we achieve it?

Firstly, families need to spend time together to build bonds and trust within and between generations – especially if the family is large. There’s simply is no substitute for this. If you struggle to remember the last time your family spent meaningful time together, chances are you aren’t doing this enough.

Secondly, families must discover a shared purpose other than wealth creation, and unite around it.

“Families must discover a shared purpose other than wealth creation, and unite around it.”

We call this a unifying purpose, your reason to pull together. It draws on the heritage and values of your family and expresses your collective desire to use wealth and influence to serve others – to make a difference in the world.  This instils a stewardship ethos and connects members across generations, allowing the family grow strong and resilient in the face of change for years to come.

Without a unifying purpose, struggles for influence, the drive for a “greater share” and a sense of entitlement can destroy families and legacies built over generations.

Strengthening the capacity of families to use wealth for the good of a family and the world is what drives us at Plenitude Partners.

While others focus on the ‘what’ we focus on the ‘why’ – the mission, values and virtues, that draw and keep families together.

Through our service of empowering families to discover their unifying purpose and place ‘meaning’ at the heart of stewarding family wealth in service of others, we can make a greater impact on our world.

All it takes is one small step.