More Than Money
Issue #30

When Differences Divide

Table of Contents

“Charles Collier's Ten Best Practices of Successful Families”

Excerpted from Wealth in Families, by Charles W. Collier, Harvard University, 2001, pp. 7-8.

Successful families share effective practices in common

Successful families make thoughtful choices around their financial wealth and think about the effect of their decisions on the lives of their children and their spouses, and their grandchildren. Most importantly, they talk openly with their children, at age-appropriate times, about all the issues surrounding the family's wealth.

In my experience, the best practices of successful families include the following:

  1. They focus on the human, intellectual, and social capital of their family.
  2. They stress the priority of each family member's individual pursuit of happiness.
  3. They work on enhancing intra-family communication.
  4. Their time frame for determining success is long-term.
  5. They tell and retell the family's most important stories.
  6. They create mentor-like relationships when establishing family trusts.
  7. There is a collaboratively defined family vision statement (the Shared Dream).
  8. They teach children and grandchildren the competencies and responsibilities that come with financial wealth.
  9. They work at getting to really know each family member.
  10. They give their younger family members as much responsibility as they can manage as soon as possible.

Of course, no family achieves all of these objectives, but attempting to do so is a goal to which any family can aspire and strive for over a lifetime.

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