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Wealth Advisory & Planning

May 02, 2022

Preparing Future Family Leaders

Preparing family members to be responsible wealth stewards and successful future family leaders is critically important to generational wealth preservation, along with trusting family relationships and appropriate governance systems. Because some wealth transitions can fail, thoughtful and intentional preparation for the responsibilities of family wealth ownership and leadership is paramount to a family’s long-term financial and personal well-being. In this regard, there are three distinct elements that are instrumental in preparing for successful family wealth leadership: commitment, a shared vision and education.


Many contend that commitment is the single greatest determinant of a family’s ability to perpetuate long-term wealth and stay together through the generations. Initially and regularly thereafter, it is helpful for family members to weigh the benefits and challenges of working together versus working individually. Alone, this act of reflection can reaffirm one’s commitment and may prevent future discord.

Indeed, a significant commitment of time is required by all family members, but for family leaders it means even higher levels of responsibility, stewardship and dedication. To devote themselves to the greater good of the family, family leaders must have a strong sense of personal character. While each brings unique strengths to the role, successful leaders tend to possess the following characteristics:

Family leaders should be equally committed to their personal development. While leadership in a family setting is often expressed indirectly, formal communication channels enable family members to provide feedback, thus building consensus and a sense of ownership among all constituents. The process of soliciting feedback provides an opportunity for family members to become engaged and serves as a means for the leader to demonstrate accountability and recognize family achievements and milestones.

Although the level of dedication described here may be challenging in today’s fast-paced world, it is imperative that future leaders understand and embrace the significance of their commitment.

Shared vision

Having a purpose “larger than oneself” also contributes greatly to successful leadership over time. Many families create a unified vision, providing a foundation for guiding the preparation of future family leaders. Such preparation may include reflection on:

• The future roles children may inherit or wish to fulfill within the family enterprise
• How to position wealth to enable the next generation to flourish, regardless of their particular life journey
• How to best prepare family members to succeed along specific developmental pathways

Creation of a shared vision is an opportunity to consider the future leader’s wishes and desires in alignment with the family’s interests. This process may involve identifying areas of interest and passion, assessing current skills and developing a customized training program for the prospective leader, consistent with the broader succession strategy.

Advanced preparation for transition is a chance to reflect on the family’s history and future goals, refine and reinforce family virtues and values, and also define finance and business educational expectations. Using the family’s shared vision as a guide helps future leaders effectively provide long-term continuity and serve the best interest of the family.


Preparing future family leaders may take many years of education, training and experience. The goal is to help future generations become responsible, competent and confident wealth owners and leaders. Successful transitions are often backed by comprehensive and workable plans. These plans should include strategies that build financial literacy, impart experiential knowledge and foster self-confidence in money matters. The planning process also ideally would include years of engagement in family meetings and activities, self-education, and in some cases, relevant work experience. Often, the basic areas of an educational plan include:

• Family history, core family values and why they matter
• Family goals and how progress is evaluated
• Legal rights and responsibilities of wealth owners (e.g., trustee, beneficiary, limited partner, investment committee member)
• Principles of family governance and an understanding of decision-making methods
• Financial fluency
• Participation in family meetings and events

For any transition or continuity process to be successful, emphasis should be placed on training. Ideally education begins early, is reinforced by example and is fun and engaging. Educational getaways, family business meetings and learning experiences shared with next-generation family members are just a few of the tactics recommended to build the bonds that reinforce shared visions, values and learning. To be effective, education must be a continuous process. Consistent and repetitive experiences will accumulate into fluency over time.


Commitment, shared vision and education are essential to effectively develop and prepare future family leaders. This is a generational process requiring time, communication, flexibility and trust. Families that treat leadership transition as a focal point of their efforts can nurture empowered members for generations to come.




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This presentation is intended to provide a review of issues or topics of possible interest to Glenmede Trust Company clients and friends and is not intended as investment, tax or legal advice. It contains Glenmede’s opinions, which may change after the date of publication. Information gathered from third-party sources is assumed reliable but is not guaranteed. No outcome, including performance or tax consequences, is guaranteed, due to various risks and uncertainties. Clients are encouraged to discuss anything they see here of interest with their tax advisor, attorney or Glenmede Relationship Manager.