Trust Estate

Passing The "Baton": Building Real Conversations Between Generations

Tom Burroughes Group Editor June 2, 2023

Passing The

We talk to the co-founder of the major US wealth management firm about his views on how families build resilience and pass on their values and sustain deep relationships.

Wealthy families need to grapple daily with thinking about “pass the baton” moments so that the next generation is prepared for responsibilities and for older members to know that their achievements are in good hands, a senior industry figures says.

“I want to get away from the idea of saying `this is how to talk to the Next Generation’…we have to have proper two-way conversations,” Steve Braverman, chairman and co-founder of Pathstone, the US wealth management house, told Family Wealth Report recently.

Earlier this year, Braverman published a book, Your Time with the Baton – Winning the Relay Race of Family Wealth Stewardship, which, as the title suggests, uses the imagery of athletics to convey how families should think of passing on values, ideas and responsibilities.

“This is about getting the Next Generation to challenge themselves,” Braverman said. “We can do better and we should do better, and I am glad that the industry is going that way,” he said.

While sometimes misleadingly referred to as the “soft” subjects of wealth management (as opposed to investment and tax, for example), working out how different generations can harmoniously transfer wealth, manage inevitable disagreements and splits is essential. If handled badly, they can destroy what’s been created – fueling the “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” problem. 

With social media, a 24/7 news cycle and other distractions, families find it harder than ever to carve out time for honest and valuable conversations – but these must be held, and they can be, Braverman said.

If families are small, for example, or where certain members have no children and obvious heirs, dealing with succession and transfer needs to be carefully considered, he said.

Braverman’s book is published by Advantage.

(The US multi-family office has made a number of M&A deals in recent years. In late February, it agreed to buy Rex Capital Advisors, a firm based in Providence, Rhode Island.)

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