October 8, 2009 / 7:37 PM / in 8 years

Ultra-rich want their children to know the ropes

BOSTON (Reuters) - The ultra-rich are taking a more hands-on approach to investing and protecting their fortunes, and are increasingly determined that their children also know the ropes, wealth managers say.

<p>An Israeli family plays soccer together on the beach in the southern city of Ashkelon August 23, 2009. REUTERS/Amir Cohen</p>

The ultra-wealthy -- those with at least $30 million in investable assets -- are asking much more pointed questions of their advisers, and are making sure the kids hear the answers.

“Right now, people want to know, ‘How much money do I have? And how much money am I making every year from this? And how much money do you cost?'” said Keith Whitaker, managing director of Wells Fargo & Co’s (WFC.N) Family Wealth division, speaking at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in Boston.

“I’d say the crisis has brought about a feeling that we need to educate (the next generation) to be good stewards, not only in the general sense but actually about the nuts and bolts of money management,” he said.

Whitaker said he has heard a lot of anger and regret from clients who are questioning why they were not better prepared for the financial crisis, and who worry that wealth education for their children would seem pretentious.

But such skills are crucial. The managing director of BNY Mellon’s Family Wealth Services, Thomas Rogerson, told of a woman he recently spoken with at a conference on wealth planning.

“This woman came up and said, ‘Boy, my family totally screwed that one up!'” he said.

The woman’s parents had not told her the family was wealthy because they didn’t want her to feel entitled. But a sudden massive inheritance at age 40 poisoned some of her relationships and hurt her self-esteem.

The woman took the opposite tack with her own children, telling them everything from the start. But now she is trying to convince her high school and college-age offspring to go to school.

The question they ask is, “Why? We know what’s coming.”

Rogerson said about 75 percent of the rich are first-generation wealth holders who don’t have a history of managing great sums of money. This makes it all the more important to educate them and their children to make their fortunes last, he said.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS

Global wealth declined 11.7 percent to $92.4 trillion last year -- its first dip since 2001 -- according to the Boston Consulting Group.

The very wealthy saw average losses of 24 percent, according to the World Wealth Report by Capgemini and Merrill Lynch.

Besides a need to prepare children for their inheritance, wealth managers are getting more questions about their business -- what sort of due diligence they perform, and how different types of investments work.

”There is a focus on wealth succession planning,“ said Richard Kohan, PricewaterhouseCoopers national partner in charge of wealth transfer solutions. ”How to educate the children, who should be in charge of investment decisions, whether to rely on a manager or managers ... how to educate beneficiaries on cash flow planning, on investment planning, on risk.

“(It’s a) reaction to the loss of economic value in the last 18 months.”

Reporting by Clare Baldwin; editing by John Wallace

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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