Let us assume you have run a successful business for a number of years or have come into an inheritance and enjoy a significant level of wealth at your disposal. You can afford a good lifestyle and have accumulated all the properties, cars, boats and jets that you can possibly enjoy.
If you do not have direct successors in place to take over or you think they are not worthy of your wealth or you think your wealth will spoil them, you may start asking yourself some serious questions. At some point, you are likely to come up against the question that keeps nagging in the back of your mind: “What does it all mean?”.
Especially if you do not have someone special to leave your wealth to, it is easy to withdraw from active management of your wealth and from succession planning and just let it happen. Or you might just put any odd charity as a benificiary into your will or even just let the taxman collect it all in the hope that it will not just be wasted or drained into some obscure dark hole.
I am not going to pretend I have the answer for you but the purpose of this little article is to get you thinking a little deeper than you possibly have so far.
What is the point of building or owning material wealth if it cannot be passed on for something that is more meaningful? Wealth for the sake of itself is meaningless unless it can be made useful for future generations. In a more lateral sense that does not need to include your direct descendents or family but could also refer to more widely defined future generations.
In recent years some noteable examples were set by the likes of Bill Gates, Marc Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet and others who decided to give the vast majority of their wealth to charitable or philanthropic uses.
They all made a very conscious decision as to what they expect their wealth to achieve in the world. They actively put a strategy into place to make sure their wealth will be used in line with their values.
With wealth comes the responsibility to secure the best possible use of that wealth for the future. Think about the causes and problems in your family, your community or the world that are closest to your heart and consider the best ways you can help with your wealth. I suspect the answer is not as easy as to just give it away.
You can more likely achieve a bigger impact if you design a strategy and define specific goals. Speak to influencers who are active in those particular areas and sectors to find out how you can support them best. Also, consider how and who should manage your wealth and activities once you are no longer fit to do so. Could it be someone within your family or should it be an outsider with the relevant expertise? You may also need to figure out a good legal and tax structure to maximise the impact your wealth can achieve.
Not having a direct successor does not release you from the responsiblity to consider what happens to your wealth after you leave the surface of the earth. It also does not release you from the responsibility to make your wealth work and perform. Think about the money that is wasted if your wealth underperforms and how much more could be achieved if you had proper management in place to take care of it.
If you have not done so, please start living up to your responsibilty and make your wealth count! Give it purpose and make an impact!
by Sascha Janzen