By compiling the 50 most common questions wealthy families ask, Tom McCullough and Keith Whitaker have provided a compendium of knowledge from experts around the globe and across disciplines in their new book, Wealth of Wisdom.
The deep insights and thoughtful answers in the book will help families to make more informed decisions about their financial legacy. The advice and practical tools are there to help people get organised to develop a strategy and take real control of their family’s wealth.
Throughout the book, with each of the 50 questions and various contributors, there are many examples, stories and case studies which show how other families have handled the very dilemmas you may be facing today.
When asking the question ‘Can a Family Stay Together After the Operating Business Is Sold?’ McCullough and Whitaker asked none other than Sandaire Founder, Alex Scott, to help them answer that all important question.
On Tuesday 23rd October, Alex Scott sat down with Tom McCullough for a podcast on his contribution to the book and here are some of the highlights from the interview and questions that Tom asked Alex –
What is it that you do?
I have various roles, as Chairman of a family holding company which was created upon the sale of our original family business established by my great-grandfather and underneath this business, four subsidiary companies have been created over the last 20 years.
What are the most important things you have learnt along the way?
I have learnt a lot along the way, one thing I would say is ‘don’t be surprised if you are surprised’. Starting businesses, even if it is under the umbrella of an established family business, is not for the faint heated. It engages you in every aspect, so much so that there is little time sometimes for anything else. There is a famous clip on YouTube of a young Steve Jobs talking about how a start-up business absorbs everything. That is one of the many things that I would say I have learnt. It is an extraordinary experience but as I said, not for the faint hearted.
What is the most common question that you are asked about family wealth/family business?
I would say the most common question I am asked is ‘How do you function as a family of four generations?’. This can include the complexity of business as well as private issues and people frequently ask me how that works.
What is a question that you ask other families?
This is a difficult question to answer. I like to think that I am flexible enough to respond to the environment that I am in and the people I am with, but one question which tends to stay the same is ‘Where do you want to go? Is this business forever or do you want to move on and do something else?’ I tend to ask this because it all boils down to strategy, when you understand the direction of travel then you can help them to build the necessary support structure.
What are the values in your family that define you?
I believe that if we all state our values, then they end up sounding somewhat banal. There is a difference in speaking about them and acting upon them. I believe that it is critical as a member of a family to do our best to ensure that we are consistently working with the value system with a degree of engagement, humility and understanding our responsibility. However, when you start having to state these things I believe you have a problem, it is the way that you should simply exist.
What is one concluding message you would give to families thinking about these issues?
Do not stop being inquisitive. Be restless. Because that is your best guard against future surprises and complacency. Be vigilant continually.
To hear more of Tom and Alex’s interview and more podcasts related to the ‘Wealth of Wisdom’ book, keep an eye on their website, where you can also pre-order the book.