Excerpt from the Introduction
Most of us think wealth is just money: the cash in our bank, the value of our home, or the size of our financial portfolio. Some people chase it; others hoard it or fear it. For most, money represents safety and security, and we spend a considerable chunk of our lives trying to accumulate it. And we worry about it—for some, almost constantly. As a consequence, all too often families break up over money distress.
Money no longer goes as far as it once did. For most people, the promise of a retirement pension after long-term employment has gone the way of the dodo bird. As more people live past the average life expectancy (79 for men and 83 for women in Canada) they have a still greater challenge funding their retirement years from personal savings. Only an exceptional few will be able to do so while maintaining the lifestyle they live today.
As the co-owner and CEO of a family office wealth management firm, I have been fortunate to work with families of wealth for the past thirty years. I can tell you many of these folks have trouble with the idea of money too. These wealth creators have millions of dollars at their disposal and yet they’re often afraid it will be lost, which makes them feel insecure about their and their children’s future (the more you have, the more you have to lose in so many ways). As well, they are often highly stressed by their complex, multifaceted, and often confusing and burdensome wealth management issues. Some struggle with guilt about their financial abundance and often feel resented by those with less money. And even the most financially confident and astute individuals find that money worries cause trouble on the home front. Being “rich” means little if you do not feel “enriched”.
Most young adults are worried about money too, which distorts the choices they make in life. Even if they grew up with money, they too often don’t know how they’ll ever afford a home of their own or the lifestyle they once had. In their eyes, opportunities are few, competition is fierce, money is scarce, and hope is drying up. They often feel they have to choose between a career that makes good money and one that would be inspiring and fulfilling to them. Why must they choose one at the expense of the other?
Wealthy or not, we all have something in common. We all (except for the enlightened few) struggle with our relationships to money and to each other. Clearly, our attitude toward money is all wrong. Too many of us accumulate money only to feel safe rather than use it for the joy of creation. It’s time to remember what money is meant for: as a tool of exchange between people who care about each other’s well-being, to equalize everyone’s right to a good life, and to play with in the act of creation.
It’s also time to rethink wealth. Wealth is having an abundance of what we most treasure. That is True wealth. Yes, this includes money, but it also includes a loving group of people who support us. We call that group “family,” whether by blood ties or not. True wealth is good health, self-confidence, and high self-esteem. It is having an education and continued opportunities for lifelong learning. True wealth is having a personal mission and clarity of life direction. It is the opportunity to give our unique talents to the world and create. True wealth is our experiences and life lessons, our traditions and memories. It is our hopes, dreams, and challenges. In other words, a life of True wealth is built upon a clear and great purpose, loving relationships, and many achievements. Money without loving relationships is shallow. Loving relationships without money is wasted potential. A family is truly wealthy only when each member thrives. Many will agree with me when I say we are only as happy as our least happy child.
This brings me to the purpose of True Family Wealth. I want to share with fellow wealth creators what I have learned and to inspire you to think differently about your resources, regardless of whether you currently find them lacking or abundant. Do you have to be financially wealthy to benefit from this book? No. But you do have to be interested in wealth creation, and see yourself as a wealth creator.
This book offers a different perspective on money and family. I also provide you a system that has helped me and my family thrive. It has given me the power to create and preserve the business I want, the family I want, and the life I want by working with change instead of fearing it. My goal with True Family Wealth is to provide a tool to empower True wealth creators so they can experience the life they really want for themselves and the next generations. This includes money, to be sure, but also the power of family relationships and our ability to create together. I call this system The Family Treasury™. It creates Enriched families as it cultivates True wealth and helps sustain it for generations.
In True Family Wealth, I will share the step-by-step Family Treasury process that will equip you to achieve the wealth you truly want and to keep it for future generations to enjoy. This system enables family leaders, successors, and follow-on generations to steward True family wealth in a sustainable way. Your family can be an Enriched Family today and into the future. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I must warn you that this system will only work if you are prepared to accept three things:
- This system will achieve results, but they will not be overnight. While it is a fairly simple process to follow, it is not an immediate fix. The Family Treasury takes commitment and the courage to self-reflect and take self-responsibility for everything you’ve created in your life. The ride won’t always be smooth, but there’ll be much fun along the way. Results will depend on the time committed, participation achieved and how “rigorously honest” you are with yourself (my friend came up with that one).
- For The Family Treasury to work for you in the long-term, you need to adopt the perspective that resources aren’t only monetary and aren’t limited. I am asking you to consider that conversations about finances and family should not be held separately, as they each affect the other profoundly. Money is NOT the responsibility of the “breadwinner” while everyone else gets to live in ignorance of financial matters. It makes the world go around, so we must all be responsible and gain financial acumen, whether we “enjoy” it or not. I’m asking you to consider forming a new set of beliefs to replace the old dysfunctional set. We are all wealth creators. You’ll find the book most helpful if you read it with an open mind, as I’m going to invite you to work with both practical and abstract information (perhaps more abstract than you’re used to).
- You need to believe as I do that the only wealth worth having is one that allows opportunities for all your family members (and the others who support you) to thrive. Money is a wonderful blessing to be shared. True wealth is not just measured by the size of your financial portfolio; it’s measured by your feeling of fulfillment and joy, and the quality of love and personal freedom in life. You need to believe that a family united is stronger than the separate self. When it comes to the act of creation, a family united by a common vision can accomplish so much more than individuals alone. Besides, it is no fun celebrating your successes alone.
True Family Wealth is about putting the power to create and preserve wealth back into the loving hands of family. Although I chose to focus on family because this is typically the place where people feel most free to express themselves, the system can also just as easily be used by the individual, a business, or community groups.
We begin by challenging your beliefs about money and wealth, goals and dreams, creativity, and the resources available in abundance to all of us. Then I show you how to imagine your family as a business. If you do, you’ll see the “business of family” can be a profitable one. You’ll develop an understanding of yourself and your family in order to recognize both your specific opportunities and the roadblocks in your way. You’ll design both a personal and a family mission and set goals and objectives about what you’ll create. It might be a business, or a philanthropic quest, or maybe a career or innovation that can change the world. You’ll learn techniques to develop emotional maturity and financial knowledge within your family team and a culture of creativity and leadership. Then you’ll learn about some specific tools you’ll need to accomplish your family mission.
These all lead to a new holistic approach to wealth stewardship for the new age. For family’s who have achieved a certain measure of financial independence, this can lead to the “family bank”, which you can use to invest in your family’s well-being for generations to come. More important, as CEO of The Family Treasury, you will have the opportunity to mentor the next generations and pass on the values, experiences, and wisdom you have earned over the years.
I have tested parts of this model with some of our clients over the years. They report that their young people are confident and motivated wealth stewards. Together, they feel a sense of family unity and community responsibility. They sleep well knowing their finances are secure and available to create the life they truly want. I have also honed this process within my own family. My children will tell you they feel stronger and safer. They have gained inspiration through clarity of purpose, mission, and vision, and joy in the shared experiences, rewards, and successes. They’re empowered by a financial strength and literacy, supported by conflict resolution and leadership skills. They feel as though they belong to something greater than themselves. They are expressing what it is to be Truly wealthy, and money in the bank has little to do with it. I continue to gain inspiration from families who have used similar concepts to grow and preserve their money, relationships and freedom of expression for generations. They live truly inspired lives.
For those of you expecting True Family Wealth to be a business book, you might be wondering at this point if you’ve picked up the wrong book. For those of you thinking this book would share tips on how to build a happy, thriving family, you might be asking yourself what this has to do with business. Well, True Family Wealth has everything to do with both and more. It is about catalyzing our abundant resources through the selective use of our personal power to express our individual and collective potentials. The Family Treasury is about creating (and keeping) financial wealth while raising successful families and maintaining positive, meaningful relationships. It is about preserving and growing our totality of resources, including but not limited to money, for generations to come.
If you already consider yourself blessed with abundant financial wealth and professional success, this book is written for you. If you are or want to be, a wealth creator this book is for you. If you consider yourself still stretching toward your own financial security, then this book is written for you. If you are somewhere in between—successful but not wealthy or wealthy but not successful—this book is, you guessed it, also written for you. But if you think you have all the money you want and need, both for your benefit and for the benefit of subsequent generations; you have no fear of losing it; your family relationships are warm, unconditionally loving, and supportive; and your future is even bigger and brighter than your past, then please still read this book. Why? Because you have a responsibility to teach what you know to your next generation, and the Family Treasury can help you do that.
Now it’s time to start our journey. Can you imagine how money in the hands of love can change the world? Can you imagine how co-creating with your own family might change your world immeasurably?