May I recommend to readers of Gifthub, a site well worth reading, in fact studying? Matt Wesley's blog: Family Wealth: Catalyzing Success Across Generations. He is stunningly ahead of the rest of us, not only with his "ideas" on helping wealthy or fortunate families succeed across generations, and in his breadth of cultural literacy, but also in his urbane and supple voice. Moral imagination, and moral sanity. Reading him, I ask myself if I am envious of his superior gifts. Upon reflection, I guess I am not, instead I am grateful. You may be as well.
In a recent post, on working effectively with families of wealth, drawing on the liberal arts to enhance life, and heal dysfunction, he makes the point of all points: "No profession’s business model supports this deep work." That is, advisors are paid to do legal docs, fund and manage investments, reduce taxes, sell insurance, manage trust structures, and litigate the messes made by their peers. All of which nets out in many cases to human misery, given (what Kant termed) the crooked timber of humanity from which nothing straight can ever be made. The heirs just can't implement the plans or manage themselves, and all is for naught, for very human reasons. And no business model supports fixing this at scale. (That is, no army of priests, savants, and therapists would ever suffice. Jesus! The therapists themselves need therapy in our field, and the savants are often frauds, humbugs, bunko artists, or panders and charlatans, like me and my mentor, The Happy Tutor, Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, America's Iconic Adult Theme Park and proud sponsor of Gifthub: Wealth Reimagined.)
If Matt were here, with his background in Divinity, I would ask him how the Holy Spirit, recognizing how fucked up our world is, and has been since the Fall of Man and will be until the Apocalypse, and how sadly even the richest as stewards of wealth fail themselves, their families, and their community, and fail whatever god or idols they worship, how, I would ask, would the Holy Spirit herself with the wonder-working powers of God Almighty fix this? Would the spirit create a new business model so Matt and others in this work could get paid more? Or, would it move us as advisors to follow the priests and nuns in taking vows of poverty? Or, would the spirit resurrect the old prep school traditions of public service? Or, would the spirit demand military service for wealth holders? Cold showers from age 9-15? Would the holy spirit inspire nonprofit 12 step programs to heal avarice and a sense of personal privilege?
If Matt and fellow professionals were to take these questions in the spirit of serious play, it might lead to a diagnosis that goes beyond the rich and their evident travails, and the crappy pay that family governance experts get, in comparison to the salespeople and traditional planners. A fish, as the Italians say, rots from the head down. A body politic cannot thrive when any part is sick unto death. What is needed for a healthy society with rich people successful within it, and many non-rich people doing ok too, is for the whole to thrive. That healthy body politic cannot be created or fostered by advisors operating at $500 an hour, or .5 in basis points, or on a project fee or on a retainer to help a very few, very privileged, families flourish. It is not that there is no business model. The problem is that we think a business model is the answer. We, worshipping markets and wealth, in precarious roles ourselves, think the solution to avarice, narrowness of sympathy, and other vices of the wealthy should drive a business model profitable to us. We hope to cure them of the very thing that drives us as well. The healer goes house to house carrying the plague he seeks to cure. A fix for idolatry might take a Flood, and new Noah. And we may be washed away for very good reason, to make room for a new humanity for whom Markets and Business Models, and devotion to the rich, are understood as but a partial parsing of Wealth and the Will of God.
Anyway, please do check out Matt. He is far better worth reading than I am. He is actually constructive, particularly if you are rich, and want to be wise, or if you are wise and want to be rich. Poor Fools, rally here.