Families should talk about money

Families can and should talk about money says AP Wealth’s Tony Bates.There are so many fantastic resources to help families think about today, tomorrow and beyond.

Tony commenced his career at Ord Minnett before the 1987 share market crash and has been navigating its inevitable ups and downs ever since. Tony has also held senior positions at many of Australia’s pre-eminent banks, stockbrokers, accountants and fund managers.

Families should talk about money more than they do.

I have several multi-generational clients and I recently counselled a very wealthy patriarch that instead of having yet another family office conference about family money, it may be a better idea to have a family holiday. They did and my invitation was lost in the mail.

This advice is the exception that proves my rule. In my experience most families are happy to share innermost secrets on most subjects: fun, politics, religion, sex, health.

I know. I watch Gogglebox.

Somehow money has become more taboo than any of these subjects. Money is always and only about what happiness it can buy.

I have never actually met someone who believes that money is a race… who has the most in their bank account, when they die, wins.

Money is more often about the choices it brings, the choice to retire earlier, the choice to help family, the choice to have more fun.

In client meetings I often talk about the “today you” the “tomorrow you” and the “retired you”. Money is often about about allocating today’s resources to these three pots.

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Money Talks

There are so many fantastic resources to help families think about today, tomorrow and beyond.

Families can and should talk about money.

  • Whether it is a dad encouraging young kids with pocket money via a “jar” in the kitchen or a “star” on the fridge.
  • Or a pregnant wife with an invincible husband with a mortgage and no life insurance.
  • Or parents of adult kids who are struggling with mortgages and school fees and want to help in the best way that works for everyone.
  • Or an incredibly good looking uncle Tony that quietly says to his niece “cool your jets, save up”: property prices will be better in two or three years.

An external adviser can bring these taboo subjects safely onto the kitchen table.

I am lucky. My parents wanted everything for their children and now want the same for their grandchildren. My grandfather once gifted mum a sum of money with a simple message: don’t be boring, enjoy it. Take this money and do something fun with it. Because he could.

Next week my own daughter will turn 18 and will get a nice surprise in her bank account from her “mama” with a message (NB: note sting in the tail after intergenerational lessons learned) that says “this money is yours: travel, buy a car, have fun, but please just don’t fritter it away”. Because she can.

There are lots of money lessons that can and should be passed on through families: storing nuts in summer for winter; from acorns, oak trees grow; time in the market is better than timing the market; the miracle of compounding interest; the rule of 72; get rich slowly….

Somehow, Gogglebox and MAFS have a better chance at the kitchen table.

We’d all be richer if we talked safely and openly about money.