Just What the Doctor Ordered

This week we’re looking at a subject in a slightly inelegant way.   

Having previously written about a personal MRI story back in 2019, in You Want an X-Ray? I’ve Got an MRI! I have a spark and lead-in.

That event is irrelevant here, except insofar as my having previously written that allows me to introduce my new version of a “family legacy MRI”.


Legacy Families Need to Make Some Efforts

The field I work in is populated by professionals who work with families, and we try to help these families not only build wealth, but maintain it over generations, often with a certain “legacy” component.

Many families, as well as most advisors, believe that the amount of financial wealth is the key, and that more wealth will correlate well with how long a family’s wealth will last. 

That makes sense, in theory, but, regular readers know that I have other ideas around this.

As I wrote in 2017 in Is your Continuity Planning “PAL” in Danger? the assets that the family own will likely NOT be sufficient to guarantee the family’s legacy.

In that play on letters, I highlighted this “equation”: 

                                   People   +   Assets   =   Legacy.  

The people are as important as the assets (if not more so).


My Version of the Family MRI

So my prescription for what families need is another version of “M.R.I.”, and I hope you aren’t disappointed with the build-up.

In order to increase the chances of creating a family legacy, the family members need to make sure that they have plenty of: 

                         Meaningful, Repeating Interactions

That is my MRI Prescription. 

The rest of this blog post will look at those three components, and then explain why all three elements, the noun and both adjectives, need to be present.

We’ll start with the noun, “interactions” so it flows more logically.


Interactions Come in Many Forms

Current technology offers so many ways for people to interact, many of which our forefathers did not have at their disposal. And if our goal is to have meaningful and repeating interactions, the existence of more methods should work in our favour.

We’ve all been affected by the reduction of “in person” meetings this past year, but that won’t last forever.  

In fact, the pandemic has forced us all to adjust and that has resulted in more and more people getting comfortable with various online virtual meetings, including senior generations who may have previously resisted.

Even social media plays a part in this, and that brings up the whole “asynchronous” aspect of interactions that many people might overlook.

I have several professional relationships with colleagues that are “kept fresh” simply by commenting on their LinkedIn and Twitter posts.  

It doesn’t take much of a leap to move this idea into the family space, in fact many families are already there, using a variety of online social platforms to stay in touch.


Lather, Rinse, REPEAT!

Let’s move on to making sure our interactions repeat. One of my first rules for holding family meetings is that you don’t let people leave until you have scheduled the next one.

Whether you meet monthly, quarterly, or even annually, getting the next meeting in everyone’s calendar is a must.

Now let’s go back to the technology and note that even if you only have one, big, annual in-person meeting, you can supplement those with other regular get-togethers too.

This isn’t about either/or, it’s all about the both/and.

I barely remember much about any specific childhood family camping trip we took, but I do remember that we would regularly go camping, and those more general recollections still spark fond memories.


Thanks for the Memories

Making your repeating interactions meaningful is mostly about creating opportunities that will be fondly remembered as time well spent together.

It’s important to limit the amount of “shop talk” during such times, especially when there are some people present who aren’t privy to the details, and then end up feelings like outsiders. 

Of course it is important to level the information playing field with them, and those efforts need to be repeating too, but that’s not the matter at hand.

I’m talking about meaningful in a family way, and reinforcing the family bonds that will be necessary to maintain the family legacy, which really needs to be about non-business aspects of the family.

Try to maximize opportunities for Meaningful Repeating Interactions for the whole family. 

What family traditions will you reinforce?