Planning for what happens after death is not something that is easy for anyone. As we have seen, cultures across the world, especially in East Asia, feel uncomfortable even thinking about their own mortality, much less planning for it. Yet wealth comes with responsibility and, in many cases, conflict: our research has found just how family wealth can be a double-edged sword. The good news however, is that our survey also revealed that wealth does not necessarily bring conflict. In fact, the findings have added to a growing body of research that shows that wealth, or at least income, can bring happiness.
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The survey has shed light on some of the complications associated with succession planning. The fast-changing wealth generation landscape means that values and beliefs shift between generations. In many regions the family unit is now multi-faceted and disparate. It is therefore not unreasonable to see elements of distrust as an undercurrent in some high net worth families.
Irrespective of the complications with passing on assets, financial or business, high net worth individuals are keen to bequeath some legacy to their children. What we have seen is that the family unit does not always work within the traditional gender roles. High net worth husbands and fathers are more likely to take the lead in looking at succession planning, as opposed to wives and mothers. We expect this to change in the future.
The research has also shown that wealth transfer is a highly emotive and complex subject area. It is an area where objective, professional advice is easily available and eminently sensible: sensible to facilitate both financial and familial stability. However, the perceived importance of this advice is not universal, even amongst those who would benefit most from it.
High net worth individuals are concerned with preparing the next generation for what the future might hold. This takes the form of technical and language skills, but also family values and financial stability, in order to equip their children in the best way possible to survive the tests of time.