When we as family advisors are trying to build cohesion in a family, particularly in anticipation of or in the wake of a succession plan or a wealth transition, we will often ask our client family to tell us what the family likes to do, particularly what the family enjoys doing together, and how well the family works and plays with one another. It is very important in our work with families to pay attention to and think about what people are best at when they are at their best. For example, Aunt Judy is highly competitive and likes to get the family involved in competitive play such as golf, croquet, pool; Uncle Tom likes to tell us all about the several biographies that he has read about King Edward II; Uncle Bob likes to play with the kids and can often be found on the floor with all the grandkids playing around him; Aunt Sarah is perpetually in grandpa’s study poring over the bills and taxes and helping where and when she can. And so it goes.
Believe it or not, this family is providing some meaningful clues to how they might best steward this family’s assets – both the people and the financial assets. They are giving clues about how to assemble family members to annual family meetings, about how to structure family councils about how to structure family celebrations. This is essential and valuable intel for other family advisers as they begin to work with the family to effect succession planning, or estate planning, or distribution policies and so on.
So, the next time you’re out with your family – pay attention!