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Welcome to Horizons’ newest blog series, The Impact of Money. Written by Diana Chambers, a leading wealth management mentor, this series will explore what it is to be a steward of wealth, what is involved, and the skills and emotional intelligence necessary to do so successfully.

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Catherine stood in front of me, looking as if she would shrink inside her suit, if she could. Slowly, she told me that her parents were divorced, and the wealth was generated by a business that belonged to her mother’s family but which her father now ran. Her parents had different expectations of Catherine’s role in the family business and, as the story continued, I learned that she felt personally responsible for making the right choices and for fixing the broken dynamic between her parents.

James was the smart, oldest son of a multi-generational family which had passed the business down the generations to James’ father, Carl, who has been tremendously successful and multiplied the family’s original wealth. Carl was determined that James would follow in his footsteps and laid out a detailed plan to prepare him for his responsibilities. James conformed but did not want to have his adult life micromanaged in the same way his childhood had been. He felt that the best way to contain his father’s influence was to put governance documents in place for the business. Unfortunately, he didn’t anticipate how his father would completely ignore them.

Jeni, a sparkling 24-year-old dancer, had received her first inheritance when she was 21, and she’d run through it all. She was due to receive another tranche when she turned 25. She didn’t want to spend this one but didn’t know how to manage the money in her friendships, as none of her dancer friends had enough to live on. Should she support them and, if so, how?

Hugo looked fit and happy, having just returned from a ski holiday with his parents in the Alps. He enjoyed the benefits of his family’s wealth. But he was returning to his student lifestyle in central London where he always felt the need to downplay his background. Most important to him, he was in the process of dating and he didn’t want the women he was interested in to choose him for his wealth. How much was he going to tell them, and when?

These stories illustrate some of the complexities of being born into a family of wealth. They highlight the need to build our Financial EQ or emotional intelligence: understanding our feelings, beliefs, and expectations about wealth as well as communicating and interacting with others who may have different feelings, beliefs and expectations. Financial EQ includes having constructive money conversations, particularly when emotions and the stakes are high, as they are in families of wealth and intimate relationships. It allows us to negotiate effectively over financial issues and to resolve financial challenges as seamlessly as possible, without resorting to legal means.

Ultimately, it is our Financial EQ more than our Financial IQ that determines our success in addressing the financial dimensions of our lives. Yet, the human and emotional aspects of wealth are more complex and often less “tangible” than financial facts and knowledge, and may not be overtly addressed. Through its focus on personal and leadership development and coaching, the Horizons Leadership Programme recognises the significance of developing our Financial EQ.

I work with wealthy individuals and families to help them overcome challenges such as those faced by Catherine, James, Jeni, and Hugo. My goal is to help my clients to live well with their wealth. Over the coming months, I will highlight some of the typical challenges faced by wealthy individuals and families and offer ways to address them. The first step is always to raise our awareness of the impact that money and financial decisions are having on us personally. This will be an interactive blog and your comments will be very welcome.

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Diana is an acclaimed family wealth mentor who has previously worked in the strategic planning team of Redland PLC, as well as for a charitable fundraising initiative during the Bosnian war. She has published a book on wealth management, True Wealth: Letters on Money, Life, and Love (available on Amazon), which gives examples of the questions and requests she has received from clients, together with her bespoke responses.