FALL 2007 THE JOURNAL OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Get to know two things about a man. How he earns his money and how he spends it. You will then have the clue to his character.
You will have a searchlight that shows up the inmost recesses of his soul. You know all you need to know about his standards, his motives, his driving desires, his real religion. – Robert J. McCracken
When a professional advisor sits down with a wealthy client to discuss money management, Nthe focus is typically on the money, not on the person who owns it. Yet personal wealth is never truly impersonal.
It has powerful emotional meanings influencing the choices, relationships, and life goals of the owner and his or her family.
This article looks at the experience of the very wealthy family, particularly its members’ growth and development in relating to their wealth and its role in their lives.
We will look at how various origins of wealth can be a source of internal conflict, how individuals struggle to come to terms with great wealth, and how the quality of their adjustment can influence what happens with the money.
This life experience looms large over many areas— financial choices, how individuals face issues of inheritance and succession in their families, and how people raise their children.
In understanding these issues, an advisor can help clients and their families move toward a more satis- fying and productive relationship with wealth, something that is often missing in the lives of the rich.
THE LIFE JOURNEYS OF WEALTH
Much has been written in recent decades about the experiences of the very rich. In the popular literature, in biographies and personal accounts, in psychology, and in family therapy and family business consulting, views of the wealthy have been largely negative until very recently.
Beginning with the ’60s rejection of wealth and privilege, some Inheritors began to question their upbringing and their culture through their accounts of self-destructive behavior and confusion about handling inheritances.
The mid-’80s brought several land- mark studies of Inheritors, drawing back the curtain on many of the difficulties experienced by those raised with wealth.
With the great financial gains of the ’80s and ’90s, the newly affluent (many of them young and products of the ’60s) began to articulate a more reflective view about success and sudden wealth. Most recently, there has been a shift toward positive aspects of wealth as exemplified by the turn toward social responsibility and active philanthropy.
Time magazine’s People of the Year in
Acquirers’ and Inheritors’ Dilemma:
Discovering Life Purpose and Building Personal Identity in the Presence of Wealth