By J. Peter Simon
Do you want to leave a lasting legacy that spans generations to come? If you’re like most of our clients, the answer is a resounding yes! And while this is a noble goal to have, many wealthy individuals underestimate the unique challenges that come with leaving behind generational wealth. Today we’re going to talk about the top 5 financial planning challenges of generational wealth (and what you can do to combat them).
1. Maintaining Wealth For More Than Three Generations
Have you ever heard the old proverb “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”? It’s the idea that most generational wealth doesn’t make it past the third generation. In most cases, it looks like this…
The first generation grows up poor and works diligently to create wealth. The second generation saw their parents’ work ethic and struggles, so they appreciate and protect the wealth that’s passed on to them. The third generation, however, never witnessed firsthand the hard work and sacrifices their grandparents made to build their wealth. As a result, they don’t appreciate the wealth they receive, and they squander it.
It’s difficult to plan for a generational shift that may not happen for another 20 or 30 years, but there are systems you can put in place to prevent it from happening. Which leads us to challenge #2.
2. Focusing On The Right Threats To Wealth
Many wealthy individuals assume the market and economy are the biggest threats to the preservation of their wealth—but this is far from the truth. Most often, the biggest threat to generational wealth is a lack of communication.
As we discussed in #1, most generational wealth doesn’t make it past the third generation. We’ve all been taught to not talk about money—sometimes even within our own family. But if you’re not communicating with your loved ones about your assets, they may not know how to manage them once you’re gone.
The key to mitigating this threat is to openly communicate with your family about the following:
Tell stories and share about the struggles the previous generations went through to create wealth. It is important to instill a strong sense of appreciation and work ethic in the younger generation. What you want to communicate is that wealth is not created overnight and that if you are lucky enough to have more than you need, you ought to carefully preserve it.
Your expectations for spending and preserving wealth. What do you think the appropriate use of your families’ money is? How long do you expect it to last? Talk about this with your children and grandchildren so that your expectations are clearly understood.
How wealth is a means to an end, not an end itself. Share with the younger generation that money in and of itself doesn’t bring you fulfillment, rather it is simply a tool that helps you achieve your vision of a better future. Money is a means, not an end.
3. Choosing A Sustainable Withdrawal Rate
Do you know what percentage of your assets you can safely spend each year to preserve your wealth indefinitely? For most people, the answer is no. For the past two decades, 4% has been the industry standard for a sustainable withdrawal rate. (1) But recent studies show the 4% rule may not be as conservative as we thought given the current interest yields on bond index mutual funds. (2) In my experience, no more than 4%, 5%, or 6% is a sustainable withdrawal rate.
The truth is, your sustainable withdrawal rate depends on many factors, such as your retirement plan horizon, portfolio mix, and risk tolerance. Once created, this rate must be monitored over the course of your lifetime to ensure it remains sustainable.
4. Having A Strong Generational Wealth Management Plan
Creating sustainable generational wealth is both an art and a science. As we mentioned in #2, communication with family members is one part of the equation, but the second part involves deploying comprehensive strategies to protect your wealth.
These strategies are more technical in nature and may include things like:
Tax saving strategies
Charitable giving, and more
5. Lacking An Outside Support System
If you’ve spent decades building your wealth you deserve to have a trusted team in place to protect it long after you’re gone. A financial advisor can help bridge the gap between facilitating conversations with loved ones and putting together a strong financial strategy for sustaining wealth. (Think of this person as a master of both the art and science of generational wealth management.)
At Massey Quick Simon, we specialize in working through the complexities of managing generational wealth. We’re here to help you in as many ways as possible, from laying out your legacy goals to creating a holistic strategy to creating a financial plan across multiple generations. It is so fulfilling to us to have the opportunity to provide ongoing financial and investment support to those who will inherit your wealth after you. To find out more, call us at 973-525-1000 or email Info@mqsadvisors.com.
J. Peter Simon is a managing partner at Massey Quick Simon with more than 30 years of industry experience. Passionate about philanthropy, he also serves as Co-Chairman of the Firm and The William E. Simon Foundation, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Richard Nixon Foundation and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, a member of the New Vernon Cemetery Association Board of Trustees and a provisional member of the Charles Hayden Foundation. He also serves as a Lector at Christ the King Church in New Vernon. Learn more about John by connecting with him on LinkedIn.