Like many other experiences in both personal and professional life, obtaining ultra-high net worth status is a process that typically involves a series of linear stages. Based on our work with ultra-high net worth families over the years, we can refer to these stages in this article as: Accomplishment, Obligation, Establishing and Purpose.
The Accomplishment Stage
This stage is characterized by a sense of well-earned triumph. Generating even a modest amount of wealth is challenging enough. However, achieving ultra-high net worth status is an altogether more difficult – and rarer – feat. It is common for people in this stage to think things like “I’ve got it made! I have more than enough money to live the way I want for the rest of my life. I’ll just spend on whatever I want, and invest the rest safely.”
The Obligation Stage
Invariably however, the sentiments described above change into an often worrisome sense of obligation; especially as the reality sets in that while it can take generations to accomplish ultra-high net worth status, it can disappear in a proverbial flash. Indeed, the headlines are full of “riches to rags” stories. In this stage, ultra-high net worth individuals start to ask: “How can our family hold onto this wealth? Even if I invest safely, will it last?”
The Establishing Stage
In this stage, ultra-high net worth individuals wisely recognize and accept that, regardless of how sophisticated they are about financial issues, they do not and cannot know everything required to safeguard and grow their wealth.
What’s more, they have other priorities that demand their time and focus, and as such the smart way to protect their family’s future is by surrounding themselves with expert advisors and top minds who know what the journey ahead looks like, and how to travel it safely.
The Purpose Stage
We have found that while protecting and accumulating wealth are obviously important to ultra-high net worth individuals, they are not as important as maintaining strong family dynamics and unity, as well as demonstrating a commitment to strong values, community and philanthropy. As such, in this final stage, ultra-high net worth individuals ask the ultimate question: “What do I as an individual, and our family as whole, want to achieve in this one life?”
Indeed, every person wants and needs to feel a sense of purpose, because that is the only way to truly experience joy and satisfaction. And most often, this sense of purpose is not about helping oneself – it is about helping others. Indeed, ultra-high net worth families are typically surprisingly generous, and they put their fortune to good work for the benefit of others. For example, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and others in that realm commit a substantial portion of their wealth to foundations.
Going Beyond the Deep Fear of Loss
The transition from one stage to another can be difficult and quite scary, because many ultra-high net worth individuals harbor a deep fear of loss; especially if they recall days when they or their parents were living “paycheck the paycheck”, or as noted above, they read the headlines about a formerly wealthy family “hitting the skids”.
As we explore further in our recently published book “The Art Of Protecting Ultra-High Net Worth Portfolios And Estates, Strategies For Families Worth $25 Million to $500 Million”, ultra-high net worth families who want to ensure that their family’s own good fortune endures for their children, their grandchildren, and for many generations to come, need three things:
- A customized wealth management strategy that blends long-term growth, limited volatility, and relative safety.
- A clear understanding of what they own, and what they should consider tweaking for the future.
- Information “at their fingertips” (or at least a phone call away) so they are not on the outside looking in when it comes to protecting and managing their wealth.
When they obtain these key requirements, ultra-high net worth families protect their wealth and ensure that is utilized for the good of their family. And speaking of family: they also wisely pay attention to family dynamics, and make important decisions as a group rather than as individuals. Indeed, while dysfunction is bad for any family, it can devastate ultra-high net worth families for generations!
About Pillar Wealth Management, LLC
Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo and Christopher Snyder are privileged to have worked with ultra-high net worth families, some of whom attained wealth reaching $400 million, helping them achieve a positive change in their lives and finances. They co-founded Pillar Wealth Management, LLC, an independent, fee based, private wealth management firm. As their clients’ go-to advisors, they are brought in to help with investment management, strategic planning, asset allocation, risk control, and tracking of their clients’ progress towards life-goals. Their services are provided to a limited number of clients. They only accept a new client when they have determined that there is mutual admiration and respect and only if they can add substantial value to the client’s financial life. Learn more at http://pillarwm.com. You can reach us at PWM@PillarWM.com