Ep. 59 – Interdependent Wealth | The Family Business Podcast

Steve’s previous episode remains the most popular episode to date and so there is huge pressure on him delivering again in this show!

Luckily he doesn’t disappoint! In this interview I chat to Steve about the book he mentioned he was writing during our previous interview. The book is called Interdependent Wealth: How Family Systems Theory Illuminates Successful Intergenerational Wealth Transitions.

Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of the family business podcast. We are joined today by somebody who has been on the podcast before. And he’s actually responsible for today’s the most popular podcast episode that we have produced. And therefore there is a huge amount of pressure on both of us to make this one even better. But firstly, I’ll say hello again to Steve Legler.

Hi, Steve, how are you? GREAT Russ, good to be back with you. And I’m still shaking my head about your informing me that my episode was the most popular but let’s, let’s try and beat that one with this one.

Absolutely. And the purpose of this episode, if people remembered the episode that we recorded before, it’s episode number 13. For those that haven’t listened, I highly recommend going back and having a listen to it. If you haven’t done it is our most popular one for a reason that is is an absolute gem, even if I do say so myself, mainly because of you, Steve rather than me. But in the episode, you mentioned that you looked for a book that explained Bowen family systems theory, and he couldn’t find it. So you decided to write it. And I made you promise that you come back on the show once that book has been written. You set a deadline in that book, sorry, in that episode of 2019. And here we are is now middle of 2019. And you have written the book.

I have. I work well with deadlines. If I don’t have a deadline, I often will not get stuff done. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who suffers from that.

Yeah, absolutely. So just as a summary, for those who may not have listened to the previous episode that you were on, can you give our audience an introduction to yourself and an overview of what it is that you do?

Sure. My name is Steve Legler. And I live in Montreal, Canada, where I was born almost 55 years ago, I was born into an entrepreneurial family, meaning that my father was an entrepreneur. And I was the third of the his three children. But I was the only boy. And so this was the mid 1960s. And being a boy was was special for someone who was running a business because now he felt he finally had someone that he could train to take over his business. And so from my earliest memories, the expectation on me was that I would be taking over my dad’s business eventually. And so the first 25 years of my life plus was all focused on that, working there, working for the business in the summer. Working right after getting my bachelor’s degree, going to get my MBA and coming back to eventually take over. And then there was kind of a fork in the road. And my dad ended up selling the business just as I came back with my MBA to take over. So we went from a business with 300 employees to one with four employees. And two of us were named Steve Legler. And mine was with a junior. And my dad went off to run his farm that he had bought to have some fun. And I was left managing the assets that were left, which was some money from the sale of the of the operations, the real estate that we had kept, and a small portfolio of intellectual property, a few patents and trademarks that I was running. And so all of a sudden, I ended up running a family office, a small family office at the time, but it was 1991. And, and nobody knew what a family office was. In fact, most people still don’t know what a family offices but here I was doing that. And I ended up doing that for longer than I care to admit because I was actually very underutilized. But there was too much to walk away from and I felt the responsibility to continue to manage what was there. And then in 2013, I stumbled into a program in Toronto, which is about a five hour drive down the road from where I am here in Montreal. It was called family enterprise advisor. This came out of the University of British Columbia, which is in Vancouver at the other end of the country. It had been around for a couple of years. And this was a program designed to help people who work with family businesses and business families to understand family businesses better to better serve that clientele of theirs. And so this program was is geared mostly to people who worked for banks, people who worked in asset management, accountants, people who sold life insurance. And so here I was in Toronto in this group of about 20 people in my cohort who mostly had those profiles. And I was this guy who had worked in his own family businesses, and was running his own family family’s family office. And I realized quickly, I had nothing in common with most of the people that were in the room. Except there were people at the front of the room who were teaching us all this stuff. And it opened up a whole new world for me, I did not realize, so here are these people who are teaching us all about family business. And these
people are, you know, facilitators they are coaches, they’re people who work with business families, on figuring out their values, on planning a family retreat, on educating the rising generation, all these cool kind of things that I never realized, Oh, my God, that’s, that’s a thing. And so here I was, you know, in my late 40s, and I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up, I realized that I spent most of my life trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do, based on what other people told me I was supposed to do, and I finally had a calling. So I’ve been doing this kind of work now with families ever since. And I finally feel fulfilled with the work that I’m doing.

Fantastic. And I also came to the kind of advising family businesses outside of the scope of financial planning only over the last few years, so I I can understand the enthusiasm with which you come to the calling, because it is something that I think people that are passionate about it really get rewarded for.

Absolutely. The book that you have written we referred to in our previous episode is called Interdependent Wealth. Let me say that, again, interdependent wealth, and how family systems theory illuminate successful intergenerational wealth transitions. I said to you off air, what I would really love to do on this episode is just have you read the book cover to cover? Because it is is fantastic. I’m not sure we can do that. But just give us a summary, if you can of the book, before we get into the detail of it. Why you decided to write it. I know we touched on it in a previous episode. But I think again, it’d be good for people who perhaps haven’t heard that one to just understand why you decided to write this book.

Yeah, I think that I’m big on setting the right context and I do it at the beginning of the book, but I’ll do it for you, and the audience here. And it’s a great segue from where we just dropped off, I completed this family enterprise advisor program. And we had learned in the first module of that on family dynamics, they talked about the fact that the family is a system. And I was kind of curious about that. And I thought I understood it and I understood it well enough to pass the designation to get the FEA letters after my name. But I kind of still felt like I was missing something about the systems aspect. At the at about the same time. So in 2013 2014, I started to notice, I think it was on LinkedIn, actually, people talking about Bowen, family systems theory, I didn’t know much about it. And I kind of started to check out what it was. And the more I learned, the more I realized that people were saying, oh, yeah, this Bowen, family systems theory, if you’re working with family businesses on intergenerational stuff, it’s really good to know about this stuff. And I thought, Oh, cool. Hey, yeah, there seems to be consensus that this, this is really good to know. So, you know, I started Googling things. And I was looking for a book, I figured if everyone’s saying that knowing Bowen is good for people who work with family businesses, somebody must have written a book about that, that’ll explain it. And they can, you know, spend a couple of days reading a book and I’ll be enlightened. And so I looked for that book, and I couldn’t find it. Now, that’s not to say there aren’t any books about Bowen very out there. There are. I want to say dozens of them if you you know, stretch it. But none of them really addressed that the angle that I was coming from. And so that’s search for a resource to help me learn this. While it didn’t uncover a book, it did uncover some training programs in Bowen theory And so I chose that avenue because I couldn’t find a book, presumably, if there was a book that might have read the book, and then found the training program after. And maybe some people will read my book now and do that. And that’s actually part of my hope, I really think the world would be better served if more people understood Bowen theory. And that’s why I’m trying to share enough to get people interested in it. So I stumbled into a course in Burlington, Vermont, which is an hour and a half from my house here. And it was like one day, a month, from September to April. And I started to get into this course. And I did that for a couple of years of training. And I started to learn more and more about Bowen and, and realize how powerful it was, and how it’s not just something you learn about in your head, you really actually are expected to kind of do some of the work yourself. And when I say do the work, it’s reconnect with members of your own family. Every, every person who’s alive who’s related to you, you, you’re encouraged to develop a mature one on one adult relationship with as many people as you can. Because that helps you to increase your differentiation of self, which we’ll talk about in a bit. And after two years of that, I said, You know what, I really got to write this book. There’s enough here that I really think it’s important that someone write this book that I’ve been thinking of, but I really needed to kick it up a notch. And so I actually went to Washington, DC at the Bowen Center, which is where Murray Bowen had founded the Bowen center, back in the Oh, was it the 60s or the 70s, by the time he founded the Bowen center, and I went, and I did the training program that they have there. And I did that for two years. And not that I’m an expert now. But with the four years that I have training, I have enough knowledge to share with people confidently without actually being an expert, because there are people that have been doing this for decades. But I’ve also, I also remember what it was like to not know this stuff. And I think I’m pretty good at explaining things in basic enough terms, so people, so I can get people interested and give them a basic level of knowledge. And so that’s what I did. I wrote this book. I started last summer, finished it in late November, and it’s almost ready to be hatched.

Fantastic. And I’ve been fortunate enough to have a advanced copy to read through it. And it is, it’s exceptionally it’s brilliantly written. It is written as if you are speaking it in in the best possible way. I think that’s exactly how it should be written. As I say that my ideal would be just to record an audio book version of that, put that out as my own show.

I just want to say about your thing about the fact that it sounds like I’m speaking, when I wrote my first book five years ago, shift your family business, my wife read the book, and she would tell everyone, oh, when I read this book, it’s like I hear Steve’s voice saying, yeah, so now, a couple of weeks ago, she was reading this book, and she said, You know what, I still hear your voice. But it’s not as much as the last time so she, she thinks I’ve done a more professional job writing this book, because she doesn’t hear my voice.

As I say, I think is exceptional. And we’re going to delve into some of the detail. Now, this might sound a strange question, but you will understand and be able to explain it to our audience. But let’s talk about fish.

Okay, that’s not mine, the idea of fish, but you’re talking about different kinds of capital. Yeah. And so when people in the world of family business and family wealth, talk about wealth, they almost always default to the financial wealth of all the the accountants and the lawyers and the wealth managers. Their number one concern when dealing with the family’s wealth, is the dollars, everything that’s after that dollar sign up to the zeros and how big that number is, and and how do we maintain that number as big as possible? And how do we make sure that after the wealth goes from one generation to the next, that we maximize that number by minimizing the amount of tax that will be due upon people’s death? And so they spend all kinds of effort and time trying to conceive ways to and their focus is all on the financial but but actually, our wealth is much more than financial. So the F in fish stands for for financial. There’s been a lot written on this in much more detail than what I have written about it. So I would actually refer you anyone who’s interested in this, to look at the work of James E. Hughes, Jay Hughes. He has written a lot on this, he is he is like the guru in this space, especially in North America. There’s also a book by Richard Orlando, called Legacy, he talks a lot about these capitals, and he spends a lot of time detailing all of the different ones. But, but fish is an acronym. And so the H is for human capital, the S is for social capital, some people add another s and call it spiritual capital. There’s intellectual capital for the I. And there’s all the different definitions of what that means. But really, my focus is on everything but the F, and it’s actually all the people in the family and the relationships in the family. And these are the areas of family wealth, that I think more people should be spending more time focusing on. And, and in fact, prioritizing, thinking about the relationships that the family has the the the the human capital, actually seeing each person in the rising generation,

doing something where they are fulfilled, as opposed to somebody who is waiting for somebody to die to get an inheritance. And I don’t know if you’ve seen families where there’s people like that, but I have, and I always find it really, really sad. Opportunity more than anything else. So So I’ve written a little bit about the the the different kinds of capital, and anything that gets you talking about what values you have in your family. That is besides something with $1 sign in front of it, that’s that’s what we’re talking about. And that’s where I am hoping that people are starting to be encouraged to look more at the humans, the intellectual, the, the social capital of the family, like you have a family that is, runs the big business in a town, there’s there’s not just the welfare, there’s the relationships, there’s a responsibility of the philanthropy there’s being there’s raising the kids in a way to be responsible citizens of the city based on their privileged place in society. And, and I, and I don’t know that all families who have that opportunity are exploiting it properly. And I would hope that the ones who were inclined to do so would also be encouraged by their advisors to do that as well. Because I think the responsibility that we have as people who work with families to help show them the way and tell them what other families are doing and guide them, because they’re, they’re very rarely experts in all that stuff. And so they rely on experts. And if all the experts are doing is concentrating on how they can save taxes, they’re missing out on a lot of other opportunities.

And maybe the wrong phrase, but in their defense that they’re economically motivated by the tax savings or the legal structure or the financial mechanism, aren’t they were in place. Exactly. And we’re in a fortunate position where actually we can we’re not economically motivated to save tax, for example, I mean, that that may end up as a byproduct of what we do. But that’s the fortunate position we’re in in the work that we do. And that we don’t necessarily have to the boundaries that might be there for an accountant or lawyer are there so much for us?

Absolutely. And, and I like that word boundary it because it’s when you deal with it not ever going to suggest that people should not bring in a qualified lawyer and accountant to help them with, you know, structuring their their plan. My problem that I have is where people go to those people first and rely almost exclusively on them. Create a very thorough plan with all the expertise of those people. And then just assume that whatever they’ve drawn up is going to fit perfectly with the family members, because I really think that’s a, I’ll say, bass ackwards way of doing it, I really try to encourage families to figure out what they want to do, and figure it out as a family of how they want to see the family move from this generation to the next. And once they’ve come to some general ideas on how they want that to work. Then they can and should go see lawyers and accountants and trust people to draw it up to fit what they want. Because right now, most people are going and getting something and then it doesn’t fit and then they like well it’s fit close enough, and we’ll worry about that later. But then later, it’s just worse than it is, if you would have done it right now.

Yeah, I completely agree. And I think it draws synergies with the, one of the important things we talked about with family businesses is making sure the business has a purpose. And this is almost aligning that with the family wealth, as we say, it’s not the financial wealth necessarily, but but everything to do with the family wealth, aligned behind a purpose and having the conversations around that is really what’s important. Rather than say, well, let’s just save as many tax dollars or pounds as we can. Because that doesn’t necessarily give the wealth the right purpose.

Or you’ve used a couple of words that I really like to use of purpose, obviously. And the word alignment, I mean, I like to talk about family alignment, that people, they kind of like shake their heads, what are you talking about, and then I try to explain it, it’s like having everyone have a common view of where the family is trying to go. So you might want to call that a vision, you might want to call your goal a little bit further and kind of create a family mission statement, you might want to know before you can do that, sometimes you got to do some work on the family values. But the interesting thing is just working with a family on clarifying their values is such an enriching experience for all the family members, they will all have various different lists of their top values. But then there’s kind of magic in finding like the two or three or four that they all kind of have in common and can agree on. And then once they’ve done that, figuring out the vision, and what they want to do together becomes so much easier, because it’s based on on their values. And as they do that work together. And I’ve sat there with families as they do this work. And it’s really, it’s really cool to see them, as they realize certain things that have in common, and they start, you know, talking about examples of where they saw this value being exhibited by dad or by grandpa. And, and it sort of brings them together because it’s it’s, it’s not just you don’t just come out of there with the list of values, you come out of there with the shared experience of creating those values. And that’s the work that that some families have done in the families who do that, guess what they have, you know, historically, had done a better job of transitioning their wealth to the next generation, than the ones who just went to see their lawyer and their accountant and wrote a will. And then after the funeral, you know, things were dispersed. And then guess what happened, my family didn’t stay together and things fell apart. And they had arguments because, you know, somebody’s got this in the well, and they didn’t know and here’s, there’s just so many benefits to doing the work with the family. But I also know that it takes time it takes effort, and you really have to decide to do it. And then you have to get the family aligned first around doing the work to stay together.

Yeah. And it’s almost about your experience over there. But it’s almost a taboo subject, if we don’t talk about that. Yeah, we’ll talk about that another time. And the danger with that is if plans are made, where wills are written, or plans are put together without everybody’s knowledge, the first time they experience, what their plan is, is in the lawyer’s office with no will be met. And then you know, that you’re already opening it up to potential conflict and disappointment at that stage, because everything’s coming as a surprise. Whereas if it’s brought together around the table, where people are having those discussions and the shared experiences, and you know, you’re saying they’re about reminiscing about the culture and the values that have gone before them, it becomes a much more inclusive thing, it becomes something that is part of the the everyday for that rather than it being restricted to the lawyer’s office.

I think that most people think that they have more time left than they than they do. Yeah, you don’t like to deal like one of the biggest obstacles to even making any plans is people’s will, you know, they don’t want to admit that they’re mortal. Nobody wants to talk about death. And then and then people you know, the conversations, we’re talking about that, that fact that we’re encouraging families to have our around a couple of roll a few different, you know, tricky subjects, we’re talking about deaths we’re talking about money which a lot of people don’t like to talk about money and when that we need to throw love in there because it’s not two people love each other but But talking about love sometimes is not that easy. And so we’re talking about death, money and love and we’re saying okay, you should be talking about all this and so I understand why people are really elected to do that. And it’s much easier to just go to a lawyer and talk about some abstract things of, of writing a document. But if you have, and even if you don’t have a lot of wealth, I mean, there’s even even families at the lower end of the scale, if they want, what they’ve worked all their lives for, to be transitioned to the next generation, so that their kids and their grandchildren, you know, can benefit from, from that legacy of, even if it’s just the values that they learned. That’s, that’s some pretty important stuff. And I know there’s been surveys done and, and people talk about how it’s important. Even even the rising generation, the surveys have been done that real they want to learn their family’s values. And that’s in many ways, even more important than whatever monetary inheritance they’re gonna get.

And is that what we mean by interdependent wealth? dollars, we’re talking that the whole system

so so yeah, so interdependent was the word I chose for the title of the book. Because we’re talking about family systems. So let’s get back to this idea that the family is a system, a system is a collection of people or objects or whatever, that are related to each other. And therefore they are interdependent. Because they depend, each one depends on the other. So so the solar system, all the planets move around, and it’s they’ve studied it so far, you know, for so long now that it’s all how the system works is very predictable. And scientific as as one moon goes around the Earth and other things are moving families are also a system but it’s, it’s a lot less scientific. And that’s what Marie Bowen was trying to create a science of human behavior based on his his big thing to the world of psychology was our psychiatry and psychology was focusing on the family system, rather than the individual. So he started his work in the 50s, and was working with schizophrenic patients. And at the time, the belief was and largely still is from most perspectives, that the problem the schizophrenic has is between their two ears. And Marie Bowens view was, you know what, I think that whatever ended up between those two ears happened because of the relationships in that family. And so he started studying families and the interrelationships of those families, he actually had families move into this ward. And he had grad students following them around and studying them. And, and trying to turn this into a science. And he got to the point, I’ll just share this anecdotally here, where, where, when a family would come to him, the parents would come and say they have a schizophrenia, they have a problem teenager. And he got to the point where sometimes he didn’t even want to see the teenager, he would just work with the two parents on their relationship. And as he helped them clarify things in their relationship, the child who he never even met, would would suffer less symptoms of their schizophrenia. And so that’s where he knew he was on to something about it’s the relationships in the family. It’s the family system. And that’s what was so cool to me about, you know, discovering, okay, I want to work with families, but how do you work with the family and see all the things that you really need to see. And it’s the relationships between the people that were all of the there’s a lot of nuggets hidden in those relationship, relationships. And that’s where we’re studying Bowen theory gives you some clues and some things to look for, and some some ways of understanding what’s going on that that put you like a step or two ahead of where you would otherwise be if you didn’t recognize those aspects of the theory.

And as I say, we we covered a lot of the aspects of the systems theory In our previous episode. Would it be beneficial just to give people a quick overview of say the the eight concepts I know giving a quick overview might be tricky, but just to give some context around the the eight concepts of Boeing for those that haven’t listened to the previous.

So as I mentioned to you just before, I have a kind of a interesting view on these eight concepts, and it’s evolved actually to the point where I put it in the in this book, because I figured it would be like writing a chemistry book without putting in a periodic table. If I didn’t list the eight concepts, so I’ve listed the concepts, but the carpet knowing the concepts is, can be useful for someone who really understands a lot about theory to try to categorize where this part of the theory fits. But if you don’t know anything about Bowen theory, listing the concepts, triangles, differentiation of self, nuclear family, emotional system, family projection process, multi generational transmission, emotional cut off sibling position, and societal emotional process, that probably doesn’t give you much, unless I would spend time on each of them. And quite frankly, some of them are, there’s a lot of overlap in them. And I’m not confident that I could give without reading a really good explanation of each and every one and some of them are a lot easier. And even one of them that’s kind of cool is his sibling position. Because that one actually did not originate with Marie Bowen, he, at the time he was working on his theory, he had six concepts. And then he came across the work of a German site. Chi interest, or psychologist, I don’t really know. Walter toman, who had written a book about the called Family Constellation. And it was all his theory was about sibling position, and how important it was in determining a lot of characteristics of people. And I’m sure we all know, families where the oldest exhibits certain traits, and the youngest is the baby and exhibits other traits and the middle child. And so Toleman did this, this real big, huge Expo ze on different, the oldest brother of sisters, the youngest sister of brothers that, you know, he did 10 different profiles, and Marie Bowen. So this was like in 1961, I think. And Marie Bowen saw this book and said, Oh, my God, this, this adds so much to my theories, I’m just going to include it as another concept. And so if you’re, if you have clients, or if you’re in a different if you go get that book by Walter toman to mA N, there’s so much in there that that? It’s obviously it’s not what do they say? determinative? You can’t say that everyone will be because they’re the oldest. But there’s, there’s plenty of things that you can, you know, if you if you learn these bat concept, and then you meet a family, you can already start to put people in different seats and make assumptions that obviously you want to verify. But certain traits in just based on where people fit in their in their family. It’s fascinating stuff.

Yeah, absolutely. And I know we keep giving a little prompt out to our previous episode, but we do cover a lot more on on bones theory in that episode. So if people’s interests have been piqued by hearing you today, then I think it would be very beneficial for him to go and check out that it’s episode 13. On the show, but But back to the, the conversation for today in terms of the transition of, of wealth. You mentioned in the book, the concept of transition anxiety, or worse, trended session anxiety, which I thought was really interesting, can you give us a little bit more of an overview of what you mean by that?

Yeah, I want to back up a little bit first, just to just to re establish the context of the book, and what I was trying to do in writing these books. So I’ve been working in the world of family business and family wealth, especially as it relates to transitioning it from one generation to the next. And I had been studying and training in Bowen, family systems theory. And what I wanted to do, I figured the best way for me to make a useful contribution to this field was to introduce a number of ways where these fields overlap. I really like the word overlap, because there are certain aspects of from my experience of working with with family wealth transitions, and from my work in Boeing, where I saw oh, wait a sec, you know, there’s something in this area. And there’s something in this area, let me combine them. And so essentially, the bottom of the main body of the book is 15 chapters based on 15 Different overlaps that I found those two fields and so they’re they’re almost random examples, but they’re just a examples that I accumulated over the years that I wanted to, you know, treat one by one. So there’s 15 different examples of ways where Bowen theory illuminates as I call it in the in the subtitle, successful wealth transitions. The transmission anxiety kind of goes back to what we were just talking about a few minutes ago. It’s the the fact that somebody has to admit that we’re the generation that’s currently in charge of things, if we fast forward a number of decades, they most likely won’t be there. And the people who are in the generation after them, well, very likely be sitting in those chairs where those people are. And nobody likes to think about that fact, because it makes them think about the fact that they’re no longer going to be there. And actually, this brings up one of my you know, I’m a big Stickler or fan, or I don’t know what the right word is about vocabulary and using the right word, to describe things, and how words change over time. And there was a time and there still are a lot of people who talk about succession planning. And I’m glad to notice that that word is slowly being used less and being replaced by the word continuity planning. Because the connotations of succession planning makes you think of the time when you’re not going to be there anymore. And continuity planning makes you think more of what are the things we want to stay the same? Yeah. And so just just reframing that can already start to make the anxiety go down.

Yeah. The analogy that came to mind when I was reading through the about the, you know, looking forward it to future generations, and how that transition is, is managed, if you’ve got the different generations stood on a stage and a spotlight is coming on the senior generation, because they’re the ones running the business, and slowly it pans across to the next generation. And either the senior generation can bow gracefully, and they’ve had their time or they can try and cling on to this and try and barge people off the stage and keep it all about them. And the disruption of that obviously causes it it painted in a museum picture in my mind from that perspective, but the reality of it is that that can cause an awful lot of trauma and and challenge within a family business if that attitude is taken. And that’s why I think the conversations that you’re talking about having and the preparation that needs to be put into this for the continuity planning is the show must go on, it doesn’t it doesn’t mean that you have to be the star of that show. Would that be a fair analogy.

I like that. I like that analogy. You’re making me think also of one of the ways I tried to illustrate in the book about the interdependence. And it’s really getting people to realize their own mortality. And I only mentioned it briefly and I wasn’t sure if I should include it or not. But I mentioned, you know, when when you’re holding a brand new baby, that you’re now apparent, and then you’re changing its diaper. And then if you can fast forward in your head to the point where maybe that person will be changing your diaper. Hopefully paying someone to change the diaper. So they don’t do it. If you can get to that place in your life, that’s what I mean by interdependence. I mean, yeah, you are here and you, you start off as a child, and you’re in a lower position, eventually you move up to where you’re the what I like to call the Now Generation, you move up from the next to the now. And then eventually, there’s hopefully another generation behind you that that hopefully you’re not looking at them as pushing you out. But but you know, their, their time at the top of the Ferris wheel is coming and you you are back on the way down. And if you recognize that, I like to say that people they look at timeframes that are that are way too short. And if they would just expand the timeframe. And look at 30 years after they’re dead. Whatever that is so, so overestimate the let’s say you’re gonna live to 95 and then and then that another and that’s where things gonna be okay, I won’t be here. I don’t expect to live to be 135. So, how old are How old are my kids gonna be? How old might their kids be? And how do I want things to look for that? And recognize that you’re not going to live forever? I don’t know so far. I don’t think anyone has. So I don’t know why some people think they’re going to be the first exception

that keeping it a secret if they if they have managed to put it that way. The the other overlap area in terms of assisting with wealth transition and understanding kind of where the family has come from the origin to, again, we touched on previously, but that the importance of family diagrams, or Genograms, however you turn them Do you think that’s an essential part of, of understanding the the overall family kind of value set that the entire wealth of that family is aided by that?

I’ll answer that in two ways. So so specifically drawing a genogram, going back generations, and mapping out every end and uncle and cousin and when they were born, and when they died, and whether they had cancer or whether they were an alcoholic, or whether I mean that that’s work that a lot of what if you’re training or studying Bowen, family systems theory, everyone is not only encouraged, but really like forced to go and do that you need to be able to draw your own family tree back a few generations at the Boland center, and in any training program, you’re going to do, you’re going to need to learn to do that. And it’s actually after you’ve done it a few times, it’s pretty easy. You’re drawing squares for men and circles for women. And there’s ways to draw lines together for when people are married, and then you drop down lines and draw their kids, you always draw them in chronological order from left to right, the first child born out to the next one, and there’s, there are conventions on how to do that. And it can be a very, very worthwhile exercise in learning about your family history. Because there are often and that’s one of Bowens main concepts is that, that things repeat from one generation to the next. So if you’re wondering why your brother is like this, or your sister, or you are like this, you can often find some really interesting clues in looking back two generations. So that’s kind of my bow and answer to that for people who are interested in that. It can be a really, really worthwhile and eye opening experience. When I look at it, the question of understanding the history of the family for the wealth transition. Those details can be interesting additions, but really what I think is most important for families to understand, especially a wealthy family is where did the wealth come from? Was it you know, Grandpa came over and started something and worked his butt off and built up this company. And because sometimes you run into people who are wealthy and they really don’t know anything, they just kind of grew up and they lived in this big house. And Mum and Dad never really explained you knew that you know, grandpa had some business but you know nothing about it. Eventually, those families, you know, the wealth is, I think, more likely to, to dissipate. In in families like that, where there’s no connection to where it came from. And there’s, there’s been a lot of work done by well, you Dennis Jaffe has been a guest on your podcast. And Dennis Jaffe has done a lot of work on what he calls the 100 year families. And he studied a bunch of families that have kept their family wealth in a family for at least three or four generations for at least 100 years. And what they’ve discovered is that telling the story and making sure that the current generation knows about the history of where the wealth came from, and how it was built. And, and not just the successes, but the failures along the way, as well. These are all important things so that the family actually feels connected to the wealth of connected to the family. And it’s the connection to the wealth in the family, that increases the likelihood that the wealth will remain connected to the family for the next generation and the next one after that. And so knowing the history that’s something that I always try to encourage families I work with to you know, fill in some of those stories, you know, you don’t have to go and have some, you know, one day where you’re going to go and tell the whole history of the family. But if you can, occasionally every time the family gets together tell another story or another anecdote or, or prepare a booklet of the even the timeline of what just to inform people because if that doesn’t get done, and then the people who were there after they’re gone and then nobody will have the institutional memory to even know where it comes from. So it’s important to to document and share This kind of stuff. And I always try to encourage families to do it, it’s an extra thing they have to do. But it’s another one of those things where the benefits of having done it far outweigh whatever efforts that they’re gonna have to do.

Yeah, I agree. And it ties in, again, with something else that you speak about in the book about preparing the heirs, rather than preparing the wealth necessarily. Again, it’s almost backwards planning, from some professional services that they will prepare the wealth in a way that, let’s say, some tax on death, let’s do this on tax. But actually, there’s very little preparation done for the people who will become the mentor for that.

You’re bringing up one of my favorite expressions in this industry. And I wish I knew who actually gets credit for using it first, and I don’t know it might be, it might be in dispute, but But to paraphrase it, it’s we spend way too much time preparing the assets for the heirs, that we should be spending more time preparing the heirs to receive the assets. Yeah, so the people will work on creating a trust structure, or a holding company, or whatever, to to hold all these assets. And so they’re working on the assets. And there’s an heirs name somewhere, they’re on the document. And that error may not find out about the fact that they’re an error until they actually get the money. And so they are very unprepared. And so an unprepared err, is very likely, you know, doesn’t have much a much better chance of maintaining that wealth than the average lottery winner. Yeah, as if you go and win, you know, $20 million. I don’t know what the studies show. But a few years later, most people who have done that don’t have much left. So when unprepared, err, if people think that, you know I’m in I have $100 million, I got five kids, when I die, they’re each gonna have 20 million bucks, somebody said, Oh, everything will be fine. If they just get that $20 million check after your funeral, and you haven’t done anything at all, to prepare them to understand what having wealth is to be financially literate, to be responsible to understand where it came from, chances are Yeah, the local Ferrari dealer will probably be happy because he’s gonna sell some cars. But but the chances of that wealth being there for then your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Not so much.

Funnily enough, I used to work with lottery winners here in the UK. And that that was something that, you know, that was part of our role was to try and prepare people off after the event, obviously, because I didn’t know they were going to win it. So you can’t really do that much beforehand, to prepare yourself, everyone’s got an idea of what they’ll do when, when they win the lottery. But actually, the reality of it, when they’re seeing the scale of what’s in front of them can be very different to what they might think their expectation is and what they believe their reaction to it would be. And I think the same happens when there’s a significant wealth inheritance without that preparation is how people think they will act is is probably different to how they do act. In those circumstances,

you know, why you’re making me realize is that the parallel of the lottery winner, and the air. The other thing is, those people always end up with a whole bunch of new friends they never knew they had. And all of them were many of them will have very convincing stories about why that lucky person, you should deal with me because I will do this and I can help you in that. And all of a sudden, they are faced with evaluating dozens, possibly of different ways to go with absolutely no preparation, or no idea which path to follow which person to trust. For some reason, the ones who who are the least likely to be the ones you should trust somehow sound the most trustworthy. What they do to do that, but some people are really good at at spinning a great story and then convincing people that they are well meaning and have their best interests at heart. And a lot of people make a lot of mistakes. And if they were just prepared for it, they would have a much, much better chance and part of the preparation is being introduced in advance to the right people. And that’s another area So, I’m sure that a lot of your audience are people who are advisors to family businesses. If you don’t know the children of your major clients, you’re missing an opportunity. Because if you’re if you’re just taking your instructions from dad who’s 7075, and he’s got kids, and you’ve, you’ve written up all these agreements, and you meet with him, and you meet with his wife, and you’re talking about the kids, and you just happen to know their names, because you have them jotted down, but you haven’t actually met them and develop the relationship with them. Chances are, and there’s been studies on this too, about, you know, after the funeral, and that money ends up in the hands of that next generation, they’re going to go to their own people. And they might be better people, there might be worse people, but chances of them staying with you, if you don’t know them, there’s going to be other people come into them. That and then then that client for you and your firm, whatever firm you’re with, is likely lost and gone across the street.

Yeah, and I think that, going back to the analogy of lottery winners, and people who inherit significant wealth with with the lack of preparation, that the problem that that can create is you’re you’re surrounded by people who tell you this is what other lottery winners do. So in the case of somebody who’s who’s one to 20 million pounds, you can’t go to your your high street or your local person, because they’re not used to dealing with somebody in that position. Therefore, obviously, every rich person goes and does it through somebody different and they have special rules and special things that happen. And actually, it’s it’s not like that at all. And the the preparation stage of that can provide so much education and reassurance to the next gen and rising generation that actually, there’s no magic world. You know, that the you only get access to these special rules I often utilize, and this is perhaps a poor analogy. But I wonder if you know, the famous people or big celebrity people suffer from hangovers, or wherever there’s a secret alcohol that they drink. That means that they don’t get any hangovers. And I don’t feel bad afterwards. And I think that’s the misconception when it comes to wealth is that there’s a different set of rules, whereas actually, it’s it’s not. It’s the preparation, that’s the key to that.

Oh, absolutely. The the the preparation of the errors, and it fits, it fits with the whole interdependent thing. I mean, you your children are kind of depending on certain things from you. And they’re not always in a great position to ask. And sometimes just getting the conversation going, and having the children feel comfortable to ask for things, because then they feel like maybe they’re, they seem like they might be greedy, or it’s not their place. All it really is that well, so you can really do what he wants. But if you know that your parents haven’t, you know, taking care of things, or if they’ve kept things secret from you. At a certain point, you know, if you’re 30, and your parents are in their 60s, that’s one thing when you’re 40 in their 70s, it’s another one if you’re in your 50s, and they’re, you know, eventually, but the longer you wait to talk about these things, sometimes the harder it is so getting those conversations started. So I just want to go back to the book. In each of the 15 chapters, I, I end each chapter with some considerations for three different groups. I talked about considerations for families, I finished with considerations for advisors, or work with families. And in between, I actually talk about considerations for individuals in the family. And there I talk about something that one of your recent guests, Joshua enough to talk about family champions, I used the word family champions a few times in the book, not as much as him, I really got into his book, and just as I was finishing writing this, but I knew about his family Japanese concept. But at the end of each chapter, there are a paragraph or two or three, based on what was in that chapter, about how a person who is a member of a family who recognizes that family could and should be doing a little bit more on the family side of what they might consider some ideas they might think of to help them to overcome some of the inertia that always exists for those people who knows that they want to do something, but they don’t know where to start. So there’s ideas at the end of each chapter for those people as well that hopefully can, you know, get people moving in the right direction.

Absolutely. And what I like is the phrase you use at the end of each one is for motivated family members. And I think that’s a key message to get across is, this is not something that just happens, it needs to be something that you’re motivated to do. And like you say the use of a family champion or a family leader within that environment, is one way of making sure that if it is something that’s of priority that there is somebody driving that forward, because otherwise it is something that there’s a great danger of being left to next week, next month, next year, next decade.

That can get kicked down the road at any Oh, well, we were supposed to have this meeting about this. But now something else came up. So we’ll just move it and then they maybe they set another date, maybe they forget. And then six months later, they realize ever had that meeting, oh, well, you were supposed to send me an email, and you were supposed to do this. And, oh, I was gonna send a doodle or nobody answered the doodle, you really need to have someone who’s motivated. And actually, that’s when I when I start to work with a family, I explained that part of my role when I work with them is that I’m part of my role is to keep them on schedule and not let things fall through the cracks. It’s just too easy. For you know, stem to point the fingers at well, the that brother was supposed to do and your sister was supposed to do this and that and things. And then all of a sudden, they’re six months down the road and what they thought they were going to do that got rescheduled didn’t get rescheduled I part of what I offer. And I tell this to other colleagues that I that I know, part of our job is to keep people on track. And it’s not always easy, but that’s part of what they’re paying us for.

And I’m a financial planner, as well as a family business advisor. And one of the things that we talk about from an investment perspective is something called asset drift, where you have an asset allocation that you’re comfortable with that you’re agreed on, it’s fit for purpose, if you don’t review that and refine that over time, it drifts. And I think the same happens intergenerationally with families, if there’s a value set that’s been agreed upon, actually keeping people accountable to that and convert conversations around that area are important because otherwise you get that drift in the same sense. And I think the the in the interdependent wealth is another area where if it’s not something that is reviewed and kept at the top of an agenda, there can be that dresser, although some five years have passed, and it looks nothing like what it started as, not through anything deliberate just through the fact that five years has passed and the world’s moved on.

You’re bringing up a subject that I’ve been talking about more and more about. People talk about family meetings, for exam, having family meetings, and I want to take it a step further. And it’s not one family meeting. It’s a series of family meetings. And if it’s a family meeting once a year, that’s once a year, if it’s every quarter, if it’s twice a year, whatever. But before you leave that meeting, you have a date set for the next meeting. Make sure that happens, because it’s not the fact that you you know, it’s not the fact that my dad took me to a football game when I was a kid, it was the fact that when I was a kid, I used to go to football games with my dad, I don’t remember any specific one. I remember that I used to do it. It’s the habit. And if so I’ll give you a perfect example of what not to do. My dad called a meeting in a family meeting. It was 1985. When did we have our next family meeting? 2006. And, and the impetus for that was a cancer diagnosis. Wow. And so that’s not the way to do it. Yeah, he had learned through some colleagues that you know, should have a family meeting and do stuff, but then it sort of just, it was like fireworks, you shoot off one roman candle, boom, it’s there, and it’s gone. And then everyone forgets about it. And they’re kind of shaking their heads. What was that all about? I hope we don’t have to do that again. Well, start small, have a meeting, and then discuss a few things. Don’t try to have one big meeting and you know, spill your whole history and what you see and do that and assume oh God God got got that over with that God. Oh, it’s having a series of meetings, where people learn how to behave together, they learn that there is a time and a place there’s a forum. So as you think of questions, you know that you know what, when we have that next meeting, I want to ask about this so you don’t worry about it because you know, there’s going to be a time and a place to deal with certain things. family meetings, family meeting great, but make sure it’s the first of a series and build from there and don’t expect the first one to be perfect, but try to build with each one.

Completely agree. One of our final questions That I want to ask is, is around the possibility of helping our children too much? Again, it’s something you cover in the book. So that I guess a question is, and I know the answer. But is it possible to help our children too much,

though? Absolutely. And and so yeah, you’re you’re referring to one chapter of one of the overlaps I talk about called How can I help you? Yes, I really do the idea of over helping for wealthy families, especially when you have your children that that you love and you care for, and you have enough money to give them anything and everything they want. How does that sometimes turn out? Right, so we’ve we’ve probably heard the term affluenza where these these spoiled kids have gone on and had a car accident and killed people and in their defensive, well, affluenza, I didn’t know how to say no to anything, I was raised poorly, because I was rich, and I always had anything. So I didn’t know that I could do anything wrong. Yes, we can help our children too much. And in fact, you’re making me think of the fact that most of the problems that come up in family business or have nothing to do, they’re not business problems, they’re parenting problems. And so So parents need to set limits. It’s it’s easy to say it’s harder to do. I’ve raised a couple of kids that I think they’ve turned out pretty good. I’m not the authority on anything, but but helping people too much. Part of what I talked about in that chapter, is that it’s actually you can’t blame the kid, right? It’s sometimes if mom and dad, mom and dad, whoever is giving too much help, whether it’s financial or whatever. There’s something in it, that it’s doing something for them can’t just blame, if you’re blaming the spoiled child, well, you need to look in the mirror as well, because somebody’s spoiled that child. And I don’t know how much in the UK, you hear about this college admissions scandal in the US about all these celebrities who paid, you know, 1000s and 1000s of dollars to get their kids into good schools. And I mean, that is a perfect example of Oh, my God, and the poor kids in most of the cases had no idea their parents were doing this. So now this kid got into Stanford and thinks that they’re really smart, but it was only because, you know, their parents gave half a million dollars to the rowing coach to recommend them for admission. It’s, it’s crazy, not yet. The problem with helping sometimes is there’s kind of like a one up one down situation where the person who’s helping it makes it makes them feel good to help that other person. And that kind of helped. Especially even for advisors, sometimes I’ve tried to banish the word help from my vocabulary. I’ve tried to replace it as much as possible with, I like to be a resource for people. I want to be in a race, I don’t want to help you. But if you want me to be a resource for you, and I even tell a story about how I work with my bow and coach, and I was talking about something with my wife’s family, and I said, I want to help my wife with some stuff. And my coach said, what if you didn’t help her? I said, what she’s Yeah, what if you were just a resource for her. And I got off that call. I went to see my wife. And I said, By the way, remember, I was telling you, I wanted to help you with your family business stuff. I don’t help you anymore. And she just looked at me like, What Oh, okay. But then she was waiting for the punch line. And I said, but if you want me to be a resource for you, anytime, just ask me, and I’ll be there for a resource for you. And she said, okay, but ever since then, I’ve realized that some people say, Oh, just tell me what to do. Just tell me what to do. But most people, if you’re telling them what to do, because it’s supposed to help them, that’s not often the best way to get people to do what you think they should do. Agree do have helpers is a tricky one. And I think people should pay more attention to how they are helping and whether or not they may be helping too much. If you are always if you’re tying your kids shoes every day, and there’s now they’re 10 years old, and you’re still tying their shoes, you’re gonna be tying them when they’re 15 and 20.

Yeah, I completely agree. Completely agree fantastic. Steve, when when can people get hold of

the book? Very soon? I don’t date I’ve been kicking around with my guy who’s doing the layout who’s putting it up. So it’s going to be available only on Amazon. I’m publishing on Amazon. There is a link on my website. And I’ll make sure you have it for the show notes to preorder a copy of the book now, and then it’ll be delivered when it comes out. dates I’ve worked at like July 14 is probably the outside it might be a week earlier, it might be a couple of weeks earlier. It is available for pre order now. And once it is available, generally, I will make sure through my social media that that people know about it. I know you see I see you and we see each other on LinkedIn, we see each other on Twitter. I encourage people to hopefully follow me there.

And what’s your Twitter handle if people want to follow you their

Twitter handle is a family legacy, ADV as an advisor, but but a Twitter handle is limited to 15 characters. So it’s family legacy, adv. And LinkedIn, if you just Google Steve Legler, or Steve Legler family business, or Steve Legler, Canada, Montreal, I’m sure you will find me I do accept, I like to say accept 99% of my LinkedIn invitations. Because sometimes you get some that are a bit sketchy, but most of them if you have anything to do with this space, I will accept your invitation. i As you know, I create content constantly with a weekly blog. And so I love sharing that and getting comments from people who who like to read what I what I write, hopefully the light to read my book, it does sound like I’m speaking it, I don’t try to write a book to make me sound extra Smart by using extra long words. I’m writing it so people can understand my thoughts. The book is almost ready. It’s been if you’ve ever written a book, you know, finished writing it and from the time you finish writing until the time you actually get the finished thing is more months than you expect. But my goal is not was sold. So my first book would be out before my 50th birthday. And that was came out three weeks before and I’m hopefully be more than three weeks before my birthday is in early August. So by By early July.

It’ll be out there. Right? Well, we look forward to and congratulations on the book is very good. I recommend people do preorder it and get it when it comes out. It is excellent. Thank you again for your time, Steve, I do feel your pain in terms of the timeframes after books written I finished writing my first book two years ago, and it’s still sat on the computer waiting to press.

You’re making me feel good, but mine is measuring months, if not

years. I think what I’m gonna do as well as set a deadline for my 55th birthday for when that’s going to be

the way to go. Before I do,

but no, we will link all of the social network stuff up in the show notes. And as I say recommend people go and check out the episode on Bowen systems. In episode

one quick story about your podcast. Yeah, please met someone at FFI in London last year. Who knew who I was because of my the episode that I recorded with you should know about my book. She didn’t write why, but she just knew me from you. And she’s American. And now she I’m working with her. She’s one of my coaching clients and so small world, you never know where the connections

are coming from. Absolutely. Yeah. And that was the reason for putting the podcast out there is so that people can find the resources that are gonna help them. So I’m really pleased to hear that. Fantastic.

And I look forward to seeing you in a few weeks in the

US. Yeah, so we were speaking at the same conference, only

the purposeful planning Institute. And as I was rereading my my book yesterday, I realized that I would like that I finished my book with people should join the purposeful planning Institute. I’ve been a huge proponent of this group. And now, Russell will be at their annual Rendezvous in in July. And I look forward to seeing him there and introducing him to the people that I’ve met over the last five years that I’ve been

going to that conference. I’m really looking forward to it too, and a chance to see you in the flesh again. As you say, the first time we met was over the The Internet as you like, if you like, and people have warned me about meeting people on the internet, but it’s very good to be able to meet you in person in London and I look forward to seeing you in Denver in July and looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the book.

Awesome. I look forward to that too. And we’ll see you soon. Thanks again for having me. I really, I don’t know if you can tell by the tone of my voice, but I really enjoyed doing

it. Yeah, I enjoyed it as well. So, Steven, CC, thanks, Russ. You found this episode useful. If you have then why not share it with your family and see what they think. I work with families just like yours to help them to better

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