By: Brannon J. Fisher, CFP®
If family wealth is to survive over many generations, each new generation must respect the assets earned and passed down from previous generations. This requires that family patriarchs teach responsible stewardship of the family fortune to their children and grandchildren.
To do so, families must be proactive when it comes to educating younger generations about things like capital preservation, philanthropy and the importance of giving back. Children and grandchildren often need to learn to view inherited family wealth as a means to do good.
Why Stewardship Education is Important
Unfortunately, responsible stewardship isn’t something that comes naturally for many people, especially those who are younger. This is why educating younger generations about responsible stewardship is so important. Children and grandchildren often need to be taught about the hard work and sacrifices that went into building family wealth. When they understand what it took for their parents and grandparents to accumulate this wealth, they are often more likely to appreciate their inheritance and view it not as a “free” gift but as a sober responsibility.
As you teach responsible stewardship to younger generations, stress the importance of adhering to the family’s mission statement and investment policy statement. Perhaps those documents will guide inheritors to preserve and grow principal in order for them to leave even more assets to their children and grandchildren than they received.
So, when is a good time to start teaching children and grandchildren about responsible stewardship? Every situation is unique, and it usually comes down to how mature kids and grandkids are — some can start grasping the concepts of stewardship in early childhood while others need a little longer. The most important factor is that stewardship lessons begin before any assets are transferred to them.
The Three T’s of Stewardship
As you prepare to teach younger generations about responsible stewardship and generosity, remember that stewardship includes being responsible for more than just the management of assets. It involves the responsible allocation of one’s time and talents, as well as treasure. A true philanthropist gives more than just their financial wealth.
Time — Encourage children and grandchildren to invest their time and energy in causes that go beyond themselves. Challenge them to adopt a cause or charity that’s meaningful to them and roll up their shirtsleeves and get involved. It doesn’t matter what the cause is — serving at a soup kitchen, picking up trash in a local park or going on an overseas mission trip with their church are a few ways that kids and teenagers can invest their time.
Talents — Similarly, prompt kids and grandkids to put their unique talents to work serving others. If they have musical talent, for example, maybe they could perform for the residents of a local assisted living or nursing home. Or if they have artistic talent, maybe they could create artwork and donate it to a silent auction to raise funds for a particular cause they’re passionate about.
Treasure — One of the best stewardship and philanthropic lessons to teach younger generations is the value of percentage giving on a consistent basis. Instead of just giving away money haphazardly or when certain needs arise, this method takes a more strategic approach by giving away a percentage of income or assets on a regular basis, and in support of specific organizations that have been vetted for their alignment and effectiveness.
For example, many people give away 10% of their gross income (or a tithe) to their church or other religious institution. The giving doesn’t have to be religious in nature — the important thing is to get kids and grandkids in the habit of giving consistently. As their income and assets increase over time, so will the amount of their gifts.
Create a Plan Now
If you don’t have a plan in place now for teaching responsible stewardship to future generations, talk to other leaders in your family about creating and implementing such a plan. This could end up being one of the most important things you ever do to preserve your family legacy and wealth for the long haul.
A Simon Quick advisor can advise you on the process creating a long-term stewardship plan. To learn more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Brannon Fisher, CFP®
Brannon joined Simon Quick in April of 2019 and helped extend the firm’s reach into the Rocky Mountain region by establishing an office in Denver. He is responsible for new business development and works closely with the New Jersey-based Client Advisory teams to provide ongoing services to our valued clients. Brannon holds degrees from Colgate University, CU-Boulder, and Dominican University of California. He remains involved with higher education by volunteering for Greenhouse Scholars as a mentor, career advisor and selection committee member. Brannon, his wife Mandy, and his daughters Waverly and Layla enjoy a variety of active outdoor pursuits and host a revolving cast of foster pets for Mandy’s nonprofit animal rescue, Old Dogs New Digs. To learn more about Brannon, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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