Families that hold joint economic interests stay together longer; families that don't, often lose their unity and common identity, and eventually atrophy. That is not necessarily a bad thing; individuals go on and lead successful lives and create their own nuclear families and ambitions.

But when a family stays united around continuing something together, they take on a long-term nature to the way they think, work and plan. They may move in and out of industries, buy and sell different companies, move in and out of countries and investments, but the values that define them remain constant, and the family's mission drives them toward having an impact and staying together. There are many contributing factors, but without wealth, this would not be possible. The level of wealth necessary to do this would not exist, in most cases, without the collective joining of assets from different family members who choose to stay united and engaged together.

The destruction of wealth receives much media attention. The dramatic stories of rags to riches captivate the public's attention. The notion that wealth can be destroyed if one does not carefully steward it is well understood; in fact every country has a similar saying that within a few generations, families that have wealth tend to lose it. The stories of family wealth growing over generations are not widely publicized, but have received our attention for the last several years as we have studied what happens to family wealth over generations, and what are the philosophies and practices that lead to wealth growing over generations.

The findings of this study are shared at private conferences and education programs, and will be published in a book by John A. Davis in the near term.


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