Brian Andrew is chief investment officer at Johnson Financial Group. With billions of dollars in wealth set to pass from one generation to the next in the coming decades, he says the greatest impact can be made by people planning for the long-term.
“Everyone has the opportunity to use their income and assets to make an impact on the people they love, the charitable interests they support and the world around them. In fact, while impact investing is a hot topic, it seems more focused on where to invest than how to invest.
“When thinking about how to use assets and income to bring life to your legacy, people often focus on where their investments are made rather than how their plan is designed. As an example, ESG investing has grown in popularity. It refers to investing in companies that are working to make the world a better place using principles around environmental, social and governance issues. However, starting with where you want to invest rather than how your legacy goals are designed is putting form over function. ESG investing can be impactful; doing it in conjunction with legacy planning can be much more so.
“It is a gift to understand how to use assets and income to impact future generations. Parents should teach children about investing for impact. They can also impart financial values. I’ve worked with a client whose grandparents established a family foundation in the 1950s after the sale of a family business. It was established with $1,000. Today, that family foundation continues to teach subsequent generations about giving. Each year during a family reunion, children as young as seven come before the family council to make a presentation about why the family should support something of interest to them. It could be charity, an art project, or a gift for someone in the neighborhood.
“Imagine the benefits of council members representing several generations hearing that presentation, telling stories about past gifts and talking about their family’s most important values.
“Assets can have multigenerational impact – if legacy planning is done before investing decisions are made.”