Why don’t we talk about wealth?

Is it because we are paranoid, insecure, embarrassed, or awkward? Or is it that we don’t want to be judged or thought of as offensive or ostentatious? Perhaps our family values and traditions have made wealth a subject to be discussed behind closed doors. Or maybe we just like a little privacy regarding our personal finances. 

In my experience, there definitely seems to be a sensitivity of others when it comes to money, regardless of how much you have. Then, there is also a concern for peoples’ judgement or jealousy as to how you became wealthy (especially if you have inherited wealth). Most wealthy people I know have worked hard to achieve their success and want to ensure that it is passed down the generations. Google tells us that there is a three-generation rule – the first generation builds and accumulates wealth through hard work and determination, the second generation preserves the wealth, and the third generation often wastes and squanders the wealth. Maybe this is another reason not to talk about it outside of your trusted circle, for fear of the generalisation becoming a reality.

Most of us say we want a better life for ourselves and our children. And some of us have personally experienced what it is like not to have money. This is part of who we are and helps us strive to do better. 

High-net-worth individuals and families are cautious around discussing wealth because of the reasons above and because they may have experienced hurt and mistrust from others.  We’ve all heard the saying, “money doesn’t buy love nor happiness”, BUT lack of money can certainly buy you misery. Families can be much closer when money isn’t involved, discussed or prioritised before family values. Maybe the reason we don’t talk about it is simply to protect our families.

Security could be another reason that money isn’t talked about. Owning material things, like expensive or classic cars, jewellery, and the latest TVs and laptops, is more likely to make you a target of theft or criminal activity. This can also create concern for your family’s safety. 

All the above or just some of it might be true; everyone and every family is different. I think money should be talked about in the right place, with the right people, especially to educate one another on how to protect or grow wealth. Considering all of the above, a common-sense approach to discussing wealth is essential.

A trusted network of people with whom you can be honest and open can remove some of the fear of talking about money. This trusted network can often give you a different view and understanding of wealth because, in addition to all the reasons not to talk about it, there are many more reasons to talk about it. Don’t forget that the benefit of having money is freedom of choice—the freedom to choose what you want for yourself and your family.

The Smith family’s wealth dilemma

David and Sarah Smith, owners of a successful multi-generational business, struggled with discussing wealth with their children, Emily and Michael. They feared that openly discussing money might lead to jealousy, entitlement, or a lack of motivation.

Seeking advice from our team of trusted financial advisors, we provided the Smith family with a safe and confidential environment to discuss their concerns openly. We facilitated a family meeting to establish an open dialogue about wealth, encouraging them to share their experiences, values, and goals.

Together, we created a wealth mission statement outlining shared values and developed a comprehensive wealth management plan tailored to their needs. By providing a trusted network of advisors and a safe space to discuss wealth-related issues, we helped the Smith family overcome the stigma of talking about money.

Our approach demonstrates the value of having a trusted network of advisors who can facilitate open communication and help high-net-worth families establish clear values and guidelines around wealth. By doing so, we help families like the Smiths build a strong foundation for a secure financial future, ensuring that wealth is preserved and passed down through generations.

If you’d like to have a coffee with me and chat about your situation, email me here.

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