Building True Family Wealth: Creating family unity to discuss money and your legacy while avoiding conflict.


True Family Wealth is about ensuring every member of your family feels enriched and supported.  It doesn’t always mean supported just with money.  One of the major components of building true family wealth is good communications among family members.

Some families find it really difficult to imagine themselves meeting together to discuss issues, especially money issues, for the first time.  They fear conflict. They fear not meeting their ideal of the perfect family. I say to hell with that. Good families fight like hell because they care! Peace is the enemy so fight like hell people. But with emotional maturity!!

That is where a family facilitator can help. They can create a safer space to hold those first few meetings because just their presence alone can often be enough to encourage civility, but more importantly, they can also help the family learn to communicate by offering tools to help, and training in effective communication skills.

And there is something else that can help tremendously. That is to not only create receptivity to communication and team work but create a safe place for the team to gather as well and build wealth stewards and leaders.   The dinner table isn’t it! Family patterns show up and disrupt too easily there.  Just like a business would, we create a space for formal family meetings. In my book, I call it The Family Treasury Roundtable.  These are usually held away from everyone’s home, the cottage is OK, but a hotel or resort is even better. It is best if it is completely neutral ground. You can have these meetings monthly, quarterly, twice a year, whatever rhythm suits your family best. The formality of it encourages every member of the table to feel equally respected regardless of age or family position. Power labels are left at the door. This way everyone brings their “A” game with more confidence. In my family we have them annually at a resort, and in the living room with a flip chart in between.

So what happens in these meetings?
Communication training and protocols that teach healthy conflict resolution when things get tough and people get grouchy

  • Financial literacy is gained through sharing of money stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. Maybe even speakers or book clubs. Too often, financial responsibilities are abdicated to one family member while others live in a bubble of financial ignorance creating a dependency that isn’t helpful for anyone. It’s critical for families to start having these conversations early, regularly, and include children at an early age. And parents, when working with advisors, delegate, don’t abdicate. Remember Financial knowledge is not the same thing as financial wisdom. One is read, one is lived and therefore remembered.
  • Family Foundations can be managed furthering the development of financial acumen while fostering an attitude of gratitude in the next generation.
  • Personality profile testing is done to help everyone identify their unique talents. Because in understanding them, we can seek opportunities to express them, often for a living, and in expressing them we live a meaningful and purposeful life. Businesses offer all sorts of tools and coaching opportunities that help their employees sit in the best seats, and we can use these with the family too for the same result. A kick ass team of high esteem. This helps parents and young people understand the best use of their time and money resources to grow the next generation.
  • Strategic planning to assess financial resources available to support next generation, while preserving the financial security of the parents.
  • Build leaders and support entrepreneurs with a support team so that they can get comfortable being uncomfortable and who are confident, creative and willing to go before into the new frontiers.
  • A place of celebration and belonging with a tribe that has your back
  • Introduce the next generation family members to the network of professional advisors that support the family, and or help them build new relationships.

All of these happen in business meetings and can happen in yours too to help move your Family Treasury forward to create True Family Wealth.

Chris Clarke draws on 30 years of experience as CEO and Co-owner of First Affiliated Holdings Inc. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Trust and Estates Practitioner, and a Registered Financial Planner. Clarke is also certified as a Family Facilitator by the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise. Her new book, True Family Wealth-Love, Money & an Inspired Life, can be bought on and at bookstores.