THE wealth between generations. “A lot of

Powering Better Wealth
Planning Through Family
Unity and Shared Goals
A family that gives together grows together—it is cliché, but
critically important, and particularly relevant for those considered
high-net-worth (HNW).
Understanding and solidifying a family’s common purpose and philanthropic passion can
lead to shared experiences, emotional stability and stronger interpersonal relationships.
It also can assist in the successful transfer of wealth between generations.
It’s sorely needed, as the majority of intergenerational wealth transfers currently (and
shockingly) fail, mainly due to a lack of effective communication, understanding and
agreement on family goals—financial and otherwise.1
It’s a problem even in (and often especially with) HNW families in their quest to
establish a meaningful and lasting legacy.
Understanding and solidifying a family’s common purpose
and philanthropic passion can lead to shared experiences,
emotional stability and stronger interpersonal relationships
to assist in the successful transfer of wealth between
“A lot of families say they generally want this to happen or that to happen,” says
Sophia Duffy, JD, CPA, Associate Dean and Assistant Professor of Business Planning
at American College of Financial Services. “But getting them to actually sit down and
articulate their goals, and then to prioritize those goals, is a huge problem. Yet it also
represents huge value the advisor can add.”
So how is it done?
Through original research and interviews with financial, generational and charitablegiving
experts, BNY Mellon’s Pershing, in conjunction with Beacon Strategies, identified
the advantages and opportunities that can be gained from helping HNW families rally
around a shared giving goal and common identity. For top advisors, building a
foundation for legacy success, as well as attracting and retaining wealthy clients, is
critically important.
“5 Strategies to Keep Your Heirs from Blowing Their Inheritance.” November 2015.
For professional use only. Not for distribution to the public.
Health and Wealth…………………. 2
Start With The Why………………… 3
Push vs. Pull………………………….. 4
Context Is Key ……………………….. 5
The Business of Giving…………… 6
A Legacy of Largesse……………… 6
For professional use only. Not for distribution to the public.
The focus was on HNW individuals and families which, for the purposes of the analysis, were defined as those with
between $5 million and $25 million in investable assets. The results, including the steps taken by advisors and
families who have successfully maintained and transferred wealth through multiple generations, are detailed in
this whitepaper.
Health and Wealth
It is the giving, not the getting, that provides a sense of purpose and well-being—something that’s backed
by science.
Research conducted by Carleton University found that individuals with a clear and defined purpose outlive their
peers, and their attitude and energy transfer to those with whom they’re closely connected, namely family members.
It doesn’t seem to matter when people find their direction, it can be in their 20s, 50s or 70s; the benefits still hold,
which reinforce the intergenerational assist.
The research controlled for other factors known to affect longevity, such as age, gender and emotional well-being.
A sense of purpose outweighed them all, something defined as having a “compass or lighthouse that provides an
overarching aim and direction in day-to-day lives.”2
It’s this connection of well-being to purpose that has been directly linked to family wealth preservation and
perpetuation, with an impartial professional (read: advisor) often at its center.
“For many high-net-worth families, it’s more of a decision about impact,” Mark Tibergien, Chief Executive Officer of
BNY Mellon’s Pershing Advisor Solutions, explains. “Advisors play a catalytic role in helping individuals and
families live lives of purpose.”
Instead of simply spreading money around, it’s about truly leaving a legacy of philanthropy, which also involves
their time and wisdom, something he notes “is nuanced, but important.”
Not that it’s always (or often) easy, but Duffy offers best practices to make it more so.
“People Who Feel They Have a Purpose in Life Live Longer.” July 28, 2014.
Individuals with a clear and defined purpose
outlive their peers, and their attitude and energy
transfer to those with whom they’re closely
connected, namely family members.
Advisors play a catalytic role in helping
individuals and families live lives of purpose.
The Charitable Choice: Powering Better Wealth Planning Through Family Unity and Shared Goals 3
For professional use only. Not for distribution to the public.
“One of the important things when dealing with wealthy families is to
make sure that everyone understands the shared vision, and that they
buy into it,” she notes. “The advisor does it either by approaching each
family member individually, or by convening a family meeting that is
run almost like a business event. Ideally, however, the advisor should
do both.”
It might include a recap of the items discussed with each member
individually, but a key tip for advisors is to make sure nothing in the
open meeting is a surprise to anyone else.
Duffy says, “It’s also wise to share relevant documents before the
meeting that might also be of a sensitive nature, so people are able
to prepare themselves for news that could be contentious,
disappointing or surprising, so that it’s mitigated beforehand.”
When people are “put on notice” in this way, she says, they have
time to think, and it becomes less of an emotional reaction and
more of a practical decision as to how best to embed whatever it
is into charitable vision, when appropriate.
For particularly sensitive and weighty topics, the use of clinical
psychologists and counselors should not only be suggested, but
also actively encouraged, by the advisor.
“The advisor will take on more of a role of therapist and less of an
investment professional,” Tibergien adds. “It will be less emphasis
on speaking and teaching and more on listening and facilitating.”
Start With The Why
It is a simple yet powerful and all-important question, most recently
highlighted by business consultant Simon Sinek.3
It refers to the
self-introspection that should take place before launching into
anything of importance.
Sinek uses a vocational framework to illustrate the futility and
emptiness of simply “punching a clock,” rather than identifying and
acting on true passion. And as Duffy notes, it’s easily transferable to
charitable giving, yet rarely asked.
“It’s incredibly critical to ask the question of why somebody wants to be
involved with a particular organization or mission.”
Duffy relates the following anecdote to illustrate: Her colleague oversaw
raising funds for a library. He visited with different donors, and one
ended up gifting a sizable amount. Following the meeting, he invited
her for coffee and asked why she donated such a large amount and
what she loved about libraries.
“Start With Why”

Open the conversation with
these questions:
1. Tell me about organizations you support
with your time.
2. Tell me about the organizations you support
financially. How have these gifts been made
in the past? In what amounts?
3. How would you like your children and
grandchildren to continue this tradition?
4. Have you made any long-term financial
commitments to these organizations?
5. Have you provided for these organizations in
your estate plan or IRA?
6. How does your charitable intent coordinate
with your life insurance and estate plan?
For professional use only. Not for distribution to the public.
The donor candidly revealed she had been physically abused in a previous marriage. To escape, she took her
children to the local library, a place where they would be safe.
She also mentioned that no one had ever inquired why she gave to libraries. They simply asked her to donate, which
she always did. This was the first time anyone asked about the motivations behind her giving.
“They may say that they support a cause, but what is it that they are really trying to do?” Duffy says. “Do they want
to try and change something for the better within a particular organization, industry or population? If so, what’s the
best way to accomplish that change? These are the questions advisors absolutely should ask at the outset as it will
reveal true motivations behind the planned giving, leading to a greater chance for success.”
Push vs. Pull
Familial pressure is sometimes applied by parents who desire closer intergenerational ties and see charitable
giving as a way to do it, which could be a problem, according to Ron Cordes.
Gifting is a great idea, he says, but only if the children want to do it.
He should know. Finding himself on the receiving end of a financial windfall from the sale of his asset management
firm, AssetMark, in 2006, Cordes and his wife, Marty, co-founded the Cordes Foundation to make a positive impact.
Representing the next generation, daughter Steph joined four years ago and serves as the organization’s vice chair.
Having experienced the process themselves, the Cordes family spends a significant amount of time working with
multiple generations from HNW families. In fact, they recently hired a dedicated firm to perform “values exercises”
to identify common themes family members find important.
“One generation should never try to force the next generation into philanthropy, but rather encourage and inspire
them, and then work with an advisor to realize the vision,” Cordes explains. “You can’t push children into charitable
giving, but there are some very interesting ways to pull them in. One is the value exercises I mentioned, which
bring together the older and younger generations to identify commonalities which the advisor can combine into a
workable vision. Another is through impact investing, on which our foundation is based.”
He specifically points to the benefits of donor-advised funds (DAFs), which can be used to educate children in
charitable giving from a young age by allowing for more and more discretion as they grow, both in the amount and
type of gifting.
You can’t push children into charitable giving,
but there are some very interesting ways to pull
them in.
The Charitable Choice: Powering Better Wealth Planning Through Family Unity and Shared Goals 5
For professional use only. Not for distribution to the public.
“Some of the families in that $5 million to $25 million range
used to establish private foundations,” adds Ken Nopar, Vice
President and Senior Philanthropic Advisor with American
Endowment Foundation. Today, many of them are instead
establishing donor-advised funds.
Those who already have private foundations are also setting up
complementary DAFs, Nopar says. They do so for many reasons,
but often because they or their heirs can give outside of the
stated mission of the foundation. This is important to the next
generation, who may have different interests than parents or
grandparents. Plus, this enables the founders to “test” their
heirs by funding DAF accounts to gauge their responsibility and
dedication to charitable giving before promoting them to a role
in the foundation.
The number of DAF accounts has doubled to nearly 300,000
today versus half that amount eight years ago, while the
number of private foundations has barely increased from
75,000 to 83,000 in that time period.4
“Intergenerational wealth management should be about
empowering the next generation, rather than constraining or
disabling it,” Cordes notes. “Philanthropy, charitable giving and
anything that makes a positive impact are incredibly powerful
ways to do it.”
Context Is Key
All well and good, but how does an advisor meet a family like
the Cordes?
Joining centers of influence and partnering with other
professionals (quarterbacking the team) are two of the widely
discussed methods for gaining the necessary expertise and
contacts to attract HNW individuals and families as clients.
Often advisors who volunteer, are on a charity board or are
donors themselves are more comfortable in discussing
charitable planning with clients. These advisors can be very
helpful to the non-profits by sharing their knowledge about
gifting stock or other assets, utilizing planned giving options, or
opening doors to colleagues or potential donors.
However, nothing substitutes for authenticity, says Katie Swain,
Director of Wealth Solutions at BNY Mellon’s Pershing.
“Advisors who I’ve seen successfully springboard into the space
do so by way of a personal interest,” she explains. “It might be
helping the local animal shelter through a charitable event or

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11 Best Practices for Catalyzing
Family Philanthropy
1. Clarify their philanthropic identity—Clarify who
they are as funders and what and how they want to
make a difference through giving.
2. Prioritize their motives—Is the primary motive for
giving family togetherness or philanthropic strategy?
Those who are unabashedly candid usually have
better success achieving their goals.
3. Articulate their values—Start by articulating the
motivational values and core beliefs that underlie
the family or board’s decision-making on giving.
4. Craft vision and mission statements—Clearly
stating the difference they want to make through
grantmaking is a responsible way to give, especially
when there are so many needs to be met.
5. Know their giving personality—There is no right way
of being a philanthropist, but help donors imagine
how they want to conduct their giving.
6. Help them form a group identity—Is the
philanthropy an all-family affair, or will they invite
independent, non-family members to participate?
7. Remind them of legal, fiduciary responsibilities—
Most donors are so excited about the honor of giving
that they forget the responsibilities that accompany
their opportunity to give.
8. Assign roles and responsibilities—Giving people
roles can level the playing field and enable those
with less grantmaking experience the chance to
feel included.
9. Establish governing process and procedures—
Organized chaos might work for the family in the
home, but the more policies and procedures, the
less conflict can arise.
10. Schedule an annual check-up—Once all the
thoughtful upfront preparation is organized,
schedule an annual assessment to review.
11. Plan for succession—Your next generation family
members will thank you for the forethought.
Source: “11 Best Practices for Setting Up Family Philanthropy.” By
Sharna Goldseker, Executive Director,” 21/64. Co-author of Generation
Impact: How Next Gen Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving. How Next Gen
Donors Are Revolutionizing Giving to http://www.generationimpactbook.
org/. This article was featured in The American Endowment Foundation
National Philanthropic Trust, November 2017 report.
For professional use only. Not for distribution to the public.
hosting a concert to help raise funds for a particularly beautiful, historic concert venue. Whatever it is, if it’s truly a
passion, it will shine through and attract wealthy clients who share those interests.”
“More advisors today are proactively engaging in the charitable conversation with their clients,” Nopar says. “This
discussion enables them to provide the best financial advice to their clients, knowing the extent to which clients
want to support their favorite causes and charities during lifetime and after death. The advisors, clients and
charities all benefit from this conversation—truly a win-win-win. Clients often will refer their philanthropic friends
and family to their advisor, because they know that the advisor is not just interested in managing more assets, but
is very interested in helping clients on a broader or deeper basis.”
And the dollars are stickier. Charitable giving deepens relationships and introduces advisors to the children
and grandchildren. Nopar says, “It mitigates all the statistics about how those assets typically leave with
successive generations.”
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, advisors actually thought that discussing charitable giving would lead to more assets
disbursed and, therefore, less for them to manage,” he claims. “Today, if the advisor isn’t discussing it with their
clients, someone else is, and that person typically ends up managing all their assets. I see it all the time. If there
are multiple advisors working with the family, the one who has demonstrated a deep commitment to helping with
the family’s charitable giving will win out when it’s time to consolidate.”
The Business of Giving
Like Duffy, Swain has seen HNW families educate and align different generations by hosting charitable-giving
business meetings.
“It was an annual family retreat, with very specific goals required of attendees,” Swain says of one. “The
advisor helped to coordinate and attended the retreat. Younger generations came prepared with what they
wanted to accomplish and even presented a business plan. Doing so gave them a sense of ownership over their
charitable-giving idea. The event also fostered a common purpose as the different members learned how giving
would individually affect them, as well as the family as a whole.”
It was a great idea and worked well, she concludes, but as critical and valuable face-to-face family meetings are, the
reality is that not everyone can be at a particular location. If that’s the case, don’t shy from communication technology.
“Video chat, FaceTime, Skype, or whatever it might be, will at least maintain the discipline of including all family
members regardless of location and having them set and keep the dates. This helps foster that involvement and
consistency across generations,” Swain adds.
A Legacy of Largesse
Encourage rather than force subsequent generations, empower rather than constrain, and seek to understand why
they feel the way they do about a particular cause or giving strategy.
Helping to identify, encourage, organize and implement a shared charitable-giving strategy can lead to a sense of unity
and purpose among all HNW family members, and increased trust and reliance with the advisors with whom they work.
This can result in more sophisticated and rewarding service and, ultimately, a deeper advisor-client relationship.

About BNY Mellon’s Pershing
BNY Mellon’s Pershing and its affiliates provide advisors, broker-dealers, family offices, hedge fund and ’40 Act fund managers, registered investment
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efficiency, attract and retain talent, and manage risk and regulation. With a network of 23 offices worldwide, Pershing provides business-to-business
solutions to clients representing more than 6 million investor accounts globally. Pershing LLC (member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC) is a BNY Mellon company.
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