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Continuing family wealth beyond the third generation

Wells Fargo is expanding its wealth management services by adding a Family Dynamics resource to help more families successfully transfer not only their money – but their legacies.

April 17, 2017

Money can be hard to hold on to, even for the wealthiest of families. According to a 2002 landmark study by The Williams Group, 70 percent of a family’s wealth is lost by the third generation.

“It’s an often observed truth that one generation creates wealth, the second enjoys it, and the third squanders it,” said Katherine Dean, until recently the managing director of wealth planning for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Katherine Dean
Katherine Dean

Dean has seen many of the issues firsthand. Heirs may inherit businesses and holdings they’re ill-equipped to manage. Family members don’t always know how to talk to each other individually — let alone as a group —  about something as important as the family’s mission. And trust can break down.

Now The Private Bank’s national director of Family Dynamics, Dean is leading a national expansion of the company’s services to help families avoid the pitfalls that could stifle the transfer of wealth and more importantly, family relationships.

Starting April 17, the Family Dynamics Resource Center will provide The Private Bank’s advisors in selected locations online access to games, articles, tools, and other resources to help their high-net-worth clients prepare for and manage the non-financial impacts of wealth. The expanded services will also include workshops and consulting services that will begin in the Southeast and Great Lakes regions — and in California — later this month, and will include the rest of the U.S. by early 2018.

“Often the focus is too much on the how in wealth planning and not enough on the why,” she said. “By addressing the human element of multigenerational planning — and all the emotional, cultural, social, and multiple dimensions that wealth brings — we’re getting at the heart of what really matters to our clients.”

‘Managing wealth is not just about the numbers’

Arne Boudewyn
Arne Boudewyn

Arne Boudewyn, managing director of Abbot Downing’s Family Governance & Education Services, agrees that family dynamics are an essential part of wealth management. Abbot Downing, which serves Wells Fargo’s ultra-high-net-worth clients, has offered these services to its clients for more than a decade. The Private Bank has been working with Abbot Downing to help clients address the personal dimensions of wealth.

“Today, more than ever before, clients realize that managing wealth is not just about the numbers,” Boudewyn said. “By making these services available to clients of The Private Bank, our Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management division is continuing its investment in the family dynamics capabilities that help clients communicate about wealth, educate and prepare next-generation wealth stewards, and enhance shared decision-making about family assets.”

Part of The Private Bank’s launch is a custom online 360 assessment tool. It gives families a graphical view of how in synch they are on a variety of topics ranging from relationships to shared purpose to communication and more.

“Whether clients plan to leave their wealth to heirs, to employees of their businesses, or to their communities”, Dean said, “we can help support the essential conversations needed to effectively enhance family communication and decision-making, leading to greater cohesiveness, while preparing the future leaders of a family.”


Abbot Downing, a Wells Fargo business, and Wells Fargo Private Bank provide products and services through Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and its various affiliates and subsidiaries. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.
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