01 Jun 2006

Managing Family Assets

by Lewis I. Rice


For his first book, Stuart E. Lucas (MBA ’89) tackles a big topic. In Wealth: Grow It, Protect It, Spend It, and Share It (Wharton School Publishing, 2006), the chairman of Wealth Strategist Network offers advice on managing and building family assets for generations to come and shares his personal history as an heir to the Carnation fortune. The message of his great-grandfather, E.A. Stuart, the founder of the Carnation Company in 1899, still holds true today, says Lucas: Be useful.

How did your family experience affect your outlook on wealth management?

I feel extremely fortunate. I also feel I was handed a responsibility to be a steward of the wealth that was created by my great-grandfather and my grandfather and perpetuated by my father.

Why is discussing financial matters difficult for families?

In part it’s because they fear that knowledge will encourage bad behavior. Another part may be that the transfer of knowledge somehow implies the transfer of power, and many people don’t like to give up power.

How do you get disparate family members to agree on a wealth management strategy?

In our case, we had to create a vision that family members could buy into of why it makes sense to work together rather than have them go their own way. And we had to be really good listeners and include everybody in the conversation. What we talk about in our family is both rowing together and rowing separately — having a common family vision and purpose while reinforcing and encouraging the pursuits, passion, and life’s purpose of individual family members.

What’s the role of a wealth strategist in the family?

You have to take charge of your wealth. You can’t delegate your responsibility to someone else. You have to set the strategy based upon an internal evaluation of your values, your resources — financial and human — and your ability to communicate with your family.

How should people’s values influence the way they manage their money?

If you have money and don’t have good values, it’s a waste of assets and an abrogation of responsibilities. You wouldn’t give resources to people in your business who you think are likely not to succeed. But if you can transfer both values and financial assets from one generation to the other and the resources and skills to use them, then you actually create a very powerful combination and a great legacy.

Is there a downside to wealth?

Money is an economic expedient, nothing more, nothing less. If you use it effectively, you have enormous opportunity. But you can manage it badly. Ultimately, it’s really your choice.

—Lewis I. Rice

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1989, Section D

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