10 Tips for Educating the Next Generation

Date: Jan 21 2013

Jennifer Muntz

Educating the next generation may very well be the key to multi-generational wealth sustainability. Education enables family members to be better, more confident decision makers. It allows them to have deeper, more effective discussions with family office executives and external advisors. In addition, when all family members have a strong foundation in wealth management and business fundamentals, they are in a better position to work together and discuss risks, opportunities and solutions. More importantly, it helps the next generation find their own career paths and develop a sense of independence and discovery within the larger family

Forward-thinking families have long recognized these advantages and provide younger generation family members with opportunities to learn throughout their developmental years. Here are some tried and true education programs and strategies utilized by wealthy families to educate the next generation and orientate new family members:
  1. Internship on the family board: Board internships provide younger family members with firsthand exposure to your family’s governance structure and decision making processes.
  2. Internship program in the operating business: Business internships are a perfect way for college-age family members to learn about your business operations, the family dynamics within the business and explore career options.
  3. Work in another family’s business: An internship in an outside business provides the next gen with an opportunity to explore career opportunities without the stress of personal family dynamics. They are also a great way to build a resume.
  4. Participation on a board not related to the family: An outside board internship is another great way for younger family members to learn about ownership and governance without the stress of personal family dynamics.
  5. Job shadow someone in the family office or business or a trusted advisor: Less commitment than an internship, job shadowing allows a teenager or young adult to learn about a specific profession, the intricacies of the family office operations or role and dynamics of a trusted advisor. It also can be used to on-board new family members and acclimate them to your business.
  6. Family mentorship program: A mentorship program pairs a seasoned leader with a less experienced person. The goal is building a relationship that encourages the growth and development of the mentee.  
  7. Competitive games at family meetings and gatherings: Games are a great way to learn, have fun and engage the entire family. Here’s an example: Develop a jeopardy game with topics such as family history, operating company, values and vision, favorite pastimes, etc. and have teams compete to show who has the most knowledge of your family enterprise.
  8. Junior investment club or cousin’s investment club: Investment clubs provide older children and teens a hands-on opportunity to learn about things like asset allocation and diversification, markets, products, due diligence, returns and distributions. 
  9. Charity club: A charity club is a powerful way to engage kids and teens in “giving back” and at the same time learn about the philanthropy process and evaluating organizations (mission, values, objectives, results). Depending on how the club is structured they may also learn about leadership, decision making, team work, and build communication skills.
  10. Junior board: Junior boards are committees made up of younger family members tasked with projects like organizing a charity day or the family’s annual meeting. These projects provide participants with an opportunity to learn by creating roles and responsibilities, making decisions, setting goals, action planning and celebrating successes.

I encourage you to take a look at your education program specifically in the areas of finance and investment, ownership and governance and business operations. Is there a gap that can be filled with one of the above solutions? Have you implemented an education activity that might be beneficial to other families?  If so, please comment on this post and let’s share ideas.