Generational Wealth

Too often I see people spending their money frivolously, and I admit, I’ve done it myself. Spending money is usually fun. Yet fundamentally, wasteful spending satisfies a short-term desire, often at the expense of long-term success. In other words, there’s an opportunity cost.

In the early years of my career I worked at several leading financial institutions, providing operational and technical support to fixed income traders. These were high-net-worth individuals, many of whom grew up in high-net-worth households. So whenever I got an opportunity, I would ask questions in an effort to expand my knowledge. The traders would often tell me things like:

  1. “Don’t take risks with your money; take risks with other people’s money,” and
  2. “Accumulate principal, then live off the interest – never, ever spend the principal.

The first point is an example of the risk taking philosophy of many people who accumulate significant wealth by using the financial resources of others. This includes corporate resources used to create profits; the more profits one creates for a company, typically, the larger income one can demand. “Other people’s money” also includes client resources: it’s no secret that wealthy hedge fund managers did not simply accumulate their wealth because they’re great investors. They magnified their wealth by charging a 2% fee on assets under management (AUM) and 20% on profits. So the first key is getting AUM (aka “other people’s money”), and keeping it long-term. To reiterate, this does not require one to be a great investor, but rather a great marketer.

The second point is the philosophy of many people who accumulated a large amount of wealth, whether on their own, or from family wealth passed to them. Irrespective of how wealth is accumulated or how much wealth one accrues, if one does not manage their money well, they can blow a fortune.

“…just look at the latest news headlines. I’m sure you’ll see an article about a down- and-out famous movie star, or a current or former professional athlete who has recently declared bankruptcy.”

-Gregory Collier, The Janitor’s Sons: A True Story of Hope, Shattered Dreams, and Winning Despite Adversity © 2012 by Gregory Collier.

Creating generational wealth does not require one to become the next Bill Gates and accumulate a large net worth via the price increase of a single stock. If one manages their financial resources well (including managing risks) and saves and invests for the future, they can establish the basis of generational wealth for their family.



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