When you hear the words “family meeting,” what springs to mind? It could be centering around a specific issue that needs to be addressed, perhaps stemming from a crisis or emergency. Or maybe it’s a family that simply communicates really well on a regular basis. Angus Advisory Group CEO and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University Patricia Angus thinks it should be, at the very least, a pressure-free annual event where a family can openly discuss a specific issue.
This Is Not An Intervention Or Open Forum
In a column Angus wrote for WealthManagment.com, she says it should be in a non-formal setting but have an agenda to give the sense it’s not a social gathering. This might seem overly-official for some families, but it’s a lot more comfortable than a required family meeting in the midst or aftermath of a crisis.
There are also other benefits as well. If you have younger children it can set the tone for open family communication in a respectful manner and prepare them for work-based meetings they’ll have later in life. Adult children already in the workforce are used to meetings. What’s one more focusing on something that centers around the family legacy?
Where To Begin?
Start by asking your clients if they hold family meetings. If they do, bravo. If they don’t but express interest here are some helpful suggestions mentioned in the article to get the ball rolling:
- There should be a chair running the meeting; feel free to switch it up each time to keep things fresh.
- A simple start would be to focus on family history and legacy goals. Something as basic as going over great grandparent names, things the family might not know (college major, wedding song), or the story behind an heirloom passed down through the generations.
- An investment or estate-planning presentation should be part of the meeting, but not its entirety.
- Use this opportunity for older family members to seek input and learn about the dreams and goals of younger family members.
An Advisor’s Place At The Table
Why would any of this matter to a financial advisor? Angus suggests that an advisor with the right mindset could lead one of these meetings. What are some tips and qualities are required to run a successful family meeting? Glad you asked:
- The ability to facilitate dialogue and listen to all sides of a discussion.
- Avoid getting bogged down in technical areas, such as tax or finance, since she says they don’t translate well to being an effective leader in this environment.
- Set the right tone by checking your ego at the door and suspending judgement if you hear something you find disagreeable.
Angus cleverly mentions that “the sign of a successful first family meeting is having people show up for the second one.”
Questions To Consider
Here at Everplans we’re interested in capturing real voices and sound advice from experienced experts so we can help and educate other professionals and our platform users. If you can offer any insight into the following areas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us:
- Would you feel out of place, or as if you were intruding, at a client’s family meeting?
- What are some of the things you’d love to discuss while meeting with a client’s family?