How to Help the Next Generation Find Their Voice

Wells Fargo Private Bank discusses three ways to help improve family communication.

podcast - helping the next generation find their voice

Podcast Transcript

Host: Dave Specht, National Development Manager for Family Dynamics, Wells Fargo Private Bank

Guest: Katherine Dean, Head of Family Dynamics, Wells Fargo Private Bank

[Dave]: 

It’s every parent’s desire to raise independent, responsible children who can find their place in the world and thrive as adults. While this is the goal, many young people struggle to individuate and find their unique voice when living in their parents’ shadows. So how do we encourage the rising generation to both respect their family while also learning to find their own voice?

I’m Dave Specht, the Family Dynamics National Development Manager for Wells Fargo Private Bank, and I’m your host for “Your Financial Journey,” a podcast series that explores questions families of wealth commonly face.

Today, I’m joined by Katherine Dean, Head of Family Dynamics at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Katherine, we’ve all witnessed the challenges that different generations can face when it comes to communication—especially when it comes to the younger generation who are growing up in an unprecedented transparency where it is OK to share their thoughts with others, whether face-to-face or on social media. Many struggle when their parents don’t feel it’s appropriate to be quite as open. What are some of the techniques families are implementing to allow their children to use their authentic voice within the family?

[Katherine]: 

Well, Dave, you are right. We do hear that it is quite common for generations to have differing views on how open to be, whether that be about finances, relationships, or otherwise. What we are seeing is the younger generation wants to have more candid conversations about money, family values, and the expectations and plans for their future.

[Dave]: 

That’s interesting. Tell me more about that.

[Katherine]: 

Absolutely. The rising generation in general would rather have more transparent conversations and awareness of their parents’ plans for their business and for their assets. Many talented next-gens become frustrated by the perceived secrecy and often feel their parents are exerting control over them by withholding information. Others are challenged when communication patterns don’t improve as they get older.

[Dave]: 

That would be frustrating. So what are some of the tactics that you’ve seen some families take to improve that communication?

[Katherine]: 

Well, there are three basic things that we recommend to help families to improve their communication across generations.

  1. First, create frequent family meetings to discuss plans for the future.
  2. Second, establish norms and ground rules that create a safe and open space for meaningful dialogue.
  3. Third, we recommend hiring a facilitator to get that process started.

[Dave]: 

Katherine, can you share why these three things are so crucial?

[Katherine]: 

Establishing regularly scheduled family meetings signals to family members an appropriate time and setting to discuss opportunities and challenges or to ask questions. Having ground rules for those meetings that have been created collaboratively is also key. When the group collectively establishes the rules, they are more likely to be followed. By establishing these guardrails in advance, it is more likely that everyone will bring their full selves to the meeting and participate in a way where they can feel heard.

And in regard to using a facilitator, the best way I can explain why is to share an analogy. Think of a time in your adult life when someone in your family tried to teach you something new. For me, I learned how to ski as an adult and my husband tried to teach me. How do you think that went? Until I hired a ski instructor, I didn’t gain confidence or improve my technique. Bringing in a neutral third party who is not a part of the family system can make a world of difference as your family learns to communicate and work together differently.

[Dave]: 

That makes a lot of sense. Those seem like meaningful suggestions to help the younger generation establish their voice and to help the family improve their communication. Every family has room to improve how they communicate. Katherine, thank you for sharing those insights with our listeners.

To learn more about how Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Family Dynamics Team can help your rising generation find their voice, contact your relationship manager. Thank you for joining this podcast.

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