|For many successful women executives and business owners, the services of a family office or a multi-family office can help bring together what is often an incredibly complex financial picture.|
In this Forbes article, Olson Wealth Group President Sharon Olson, CFP®, CEPA shares her perspective on how and why family offices can and should cater to the unique needs of women.
When it comes to the services provided by family offices—or multi-family offices—many lingering stereotypes persist: They are accessible only to the very wealthiest of families—those with several hundred million dollars in net worth or more. They exist only to manage and invest a family’s financial assets. They consult only with the family patriarch, with little involvement from other family members.
Thankfully, family office services have evolved. Today, through the development of multi-family offices, family office services are available to many more families. However, in my research, I’ve found very few that cater to the unique needs and expectations of successful women. That is a missed opportunity, as there are a lot of us.
According to research by McKinsey, women control a third of total U.S. household assets—more than $10 trillion. That is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade as baby boomers accelerate their wealth transfer. In fact, by 2030, American women are expected to control $30 trillion in financial assets—a wealth transfer of a magnitude that approaches the annual GDP of the United States
Even with that staggering transfer of wealth, too many family offices are missing the boat in terms of what women want and need. I’ve lived it. Over the past four decades, I’ve built a business from scratch and have experienced firsthand what resonates with women (myself included) when it comes to managing the complexities—and possibilities—that come with wealth. Simply put, it’s about more than money.
A Different Approach To Talking About Wealth
No surprise, how women talk and think about money can look very different than for men. I’ve found that women are often more focused on the impact of money, more so than simply making more of it. Not that sustaining and building wealth is unimportant, but women are more likely to think across generations about how wealth can help bring the family together (or potentially tear it apart). We are long-term thinkers who want to create a foundation that is rooted in legacy and making a difference with wealth, for our families and the communities and causes we care about. That requires a fundamentally different approach, and it starts with having conversations about what matters most.
Passing Down Of Values
Talking about vision and values should be among the first conversations a woman has when working with a family office (or multi-family office). Before diving into investment strategy and estate planning, explore what wealth ultimately means—and what it can accomplish. Passing down shared values is incredibly important to most successful women. They want their children, grandchildren, and other families to know where the wealth came from, the values that made that possible, and what they hope the wealth can achieve in the future.
They are concerned with teaching and instilling healthy spending habits and lifestyle expectations in kids and young adults. Sadly, significant wealth is often squandered by the third generation because these conversations never occurred and expectations were never set. Family meetings can be incredibly useful in starting the conversation about values and vision. So, too, can recording your hopes and dreams or drafting a letter to family members—sometimes called an ethical will. A family office can help with that.
Renewing A Sense Of Purpose
The right family office can also be instrumental in helping to define the all-important “what’s next?” For many female executives and business owners, running their businesses for years has consumed them, which is of course what has made them so successful. However, that can come to dominate one’s sense of purpose.
Once a successful woman retires or exits a business, that purpose is suddenly gone. That can be jarring, to say the least, and can lead to an existential crisis, even depression, if not addressed. Defining an ongoing sense of purpose, or reinventing oneself, doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve found it takes at least 12 months to identify, embrace and get excited about what’s to come.
That could mean a new business venture, taking minority stakes in startups that align with one’s personal passions, or exploring ESG and impact investing. It might mean creating a donor-advised fund or a family foundation. Maybe it’s throwing yourself into volunteer activities with a favorite charity or cause. There are of course many options to renew a sense of purpose, and a family office can help identify what will be most fulfilling for you.
When To Consider Family Office Services
I’m sometimes asked, “At what point do family office services make sense?” I argue it’s less about an arbitrary net-worth threshold, and more about the level of complexity in your life. For female business owners and executives, their lives are already incredibly busy managing their businesses. Add in personal and family obligations, and the load can become truly intense.
The bottom line is this: when you’ve achieved a level of success that makes it next to impossible to manage it all yourself, it’s likely time to explore the services of a family office. A family office can bring together your entire financial picture into one comprehensive strategy by coordinating all of your advisors to ensure everyone is working on the same page, with your goals and needs front and center. The right family office services, those that are focused on the unique needs and expectations of women, can make all the difference in the world.
You can read the original article here.