A family's wealth is not self-perpetuating. Over the generations, it can be eroded by a wide variety of factors. Each new generation must face increasingly complex risks while simultaneously juggling continuity and innovation, respect for family values and the transition towards new ways of creating value.
This is why the families that succeed best in protecting, transferring and growing their wealth focus not only on ﬁnancial assets but on their family's human capital. The Rothschild family, which has continuously developed its members' human, intellectual and ﬁnancial capital across seven different generations over the last 250 years, is an inspiring example in this regard.
Cross-generational fortunes repeatedly invest substantial efforts in preparing for the next generation. Sometimes a mentor can play a vital role in helping them to ﬁnd the right path. By encouraging the future heirs to acquire the appropriate management tools and skills, the effort spent well in advance of the change in generation will enable them to use the ﬁnancial assets as a means of self-fulﬁlment through projects, whether these be business, political or philanthropic in nature. The family's inheritance includes not only ﬁnancial assets but is enhanced by family values, education and a network of special contacts, which can act as catalysts.
With this inheritance comes responsibility. In families and family businesses, many things are implicit. However, the transfer of knowledge between two generations requires open discussion. It advisable for that each person's questions and expectations to be spelt out as early as possible. This enables the next generation to see where it stands in relation to the family business (the role that it may or may not wish to play, the skills and experience to be acquired before being able to do so).
There is no single recipe for a successful handover from one generation to another. In order to develop one's personal leadership, build conﬁdently on one's forefathers' success, understand the intangible foundations of the family's particularities and develop a personal career with the aim of contributing new methods, we are convinced that discussions among peers and sharing experiences are worthwhile. Within the Edmond de Rothschild Group, we promote this by implementing speciﬁc programmes internationally, particularly our ﬂagship "Next Gen" programme.