Among families with multigenerational wealth, it’s not uncommon to find younger members struggling to find their places in the world, despite the many resources available to them. This uncertainty often surfaces in the questions they ask themselves – and those around them:

  • How do I get my parents/grandparents to trust how I will use family wealth
  • Which opportunities should I explore outside the family business?
  • What if my values differ from or conflict with those of other family members?

In our experience, next-generation family members are more likely to pursue goals of their own choosing when they are encouraged to take full advantage of their families’ human, social and intellectual capital – not just their financial resources.

As a result, among our most successful client families, we see younger family members developing four core competencies that help them lead meaningful lives.

1. Perseverance: Commit to doing the hard stuff

Wealth can buffer the impact of many real-life challenges. As a result, next-generation family members are often shielded from adversity, setbacks and challenges – which can deprive them of critical opportunities for self-development.

A proven countermeasure is for young family members to find opportunities to learn and grow. For example, they might take a challenging class or job, volunteer with an organization whose goals they admire, or pursue an interest that requires meaningful practice to improve. However, an even larger reward is the discipline that’s learned in completing a challenge.

From defeat, an entrepreneur emerges

Laura, now 31, a third-generation heir to her family’s international food and beverage business, grew up being told she would one day help lead the company. Yet she also knew from an early age that she was more interested in pursuing a career as a writer.

While Laura’s parents were disappointed by her decision to step away from the family company, they agreed to support her for two years after college so she could attempt to write a novel. Ultimately, her efforts were unsuccessful. However, the experience gave her the confidence to try something new: Combining her passion for writing with her knowledge of the food and beverage industry, Laura successfully launched a social media agency that created content for restaurant and beverage brands.

2. Motivation: Fan the spark of inspiration

Research and our clients’ experiences show that happiness, contentment and success in life come from having deeply felt motivation rather than something measurable on a balance sheet. Focusing on what truly matters – such as values held to, clarity of purpose, commitment to the well-being of others – when practiced and perfected over a lifetime can add up to a life well lived.

A philanthropist is born

Franco, 32, had long ago committed himself to one day running his family’s logistics business. In support of that ambition, he earned an M.B.A. and then interned at two leading technology companies.

Yet five years into his tenure at the family firm, he struggled to find a motivating spark and a sense of purpose. With his parents’ support, he took a six-month sabbatical in Southeast Asia, and spent much of his time deep sea diving. The experience sparked an interest in ocean conservation. By the time he returned home, Franco had identified projects he wanted to support financially in Southeast Asia, as well as closer to home. Recognizing the depth – and societal value – of their son’s interest, Franco’s parents agreed to launch a family foundation for him to lead.

3. Independence: Emerge from the family’s shadow

Those who inherit significant wealth often struggle to develop their identities and integrate their values with family expectations and traditions. Feeling guilty about being given so much (which many heirs report) can compound these difficulties.

Yet, without a well-developed sense of autonomy, young family members may find that having wealth narrowly defines their lives rather than enhancing them. One potential remedy is to step outside the familiar – the family business, a group of friends – and pursue an interest or passion.

A young investor finds her path

Preeti, 28, became interested in investing as a teenager, encouraged by parents who wanted her to become well versed in wealth management. To start her on her way, Preeti’s parents arranged for her to meet with their Wealth Advisor. In a series of learning sessions, the team helped her deepen her financial knowledge. This made it easier for Preeti to discuss the family’s wealth with her parents. From there, she moved toward financial independence.

Recognizing their daughter’s motivation and interest in finance, Preeti’s parents entrusted her with a small amount of money to invest on her own. Over time, she came to understand her tolerance for risk and set parameters for her investments. After college, she joined a venture capital firm and continued to enhance her skills.

4. Perspective: Guard against feeling entitled

It can be difficult not to take privilege for granted, or to form a healthy relationship with money when showered with direct (and indirect) messages from families, friends and society about the importance of wealth.

One way to guard against feeling entitled is to think of having money as an opportunity to further goals that give purpose to life and not as an end unto itself. To accomplish this, it’s helpful to talk openly about money; for example, by helping younger family members understand how the family’s wealth was made.

A millennial draws a line in the sand

Inspired by her scientist and inventor grandfather, Masha, 27, traveled to the village in Poland where he was born and where distant family members continued to live. Initially, she hoped to learn how from humble origins her grandfather came to build the thriving life sciences company her parents now ran. Her immediate family rarely talked about his journey.

To Masha’s surprise (and her parents’), her quest soon became something more: a desire to help. Instead of returning home, she accepted an invitation to teach English in a local school. Where at home she’d been surrounded by people who took their wealth for granted, in the village she was learning the value of making a difference in the world.

We can help

J.P. Morgan holds events and training sessions for next-generation family members. To learn more, please speak with your J.P. Morgan advisor. We also regularly develop articles and educational materials to help next-generation family members address wide-ranging financial matters. Among the most recent is How your money can make more…of you.

All case studies are shown for illustrative purposes only, and are hypothetical. Any name referenced is fictional, and may not be representative of other individual experiences. Information is not a guarantee of future results.


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J.P. Morgan Wealth Management is a business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which offers investment products and services through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a registered broker-dealer and investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC Insurance products are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. Certain custody and other services are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCB). JPMS, CIA and JPMCB are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

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