Starting financial conversations with your family

July 2023

Waiting for the perfect time to have important financial conversations with your children? That time may be now.

You’re there for your children as they start to hit those important milestones in adulthood: their first job, getting married, a big move, starting a family, buying a home, and more. But how often are you talking with your children about the financial decisions that go into these milestones?

While it may seem reasonable to “wait for the perfect time” to engage in money talks, there truly may be no better time than now to start diving into conversations about money to ensure that your family is on the same page about how money, goals, and values come together.

Hold more in-depth financial conversations with your family to help you feel more secure about your financial futures, even during market concerns or fluctuations. You can share your values with your family, which can help them make more informed financial decisions and feel supported as they navigate managing their financial lives.

Breaking the ice

Starting a financial conversation can sometimes be easier said than done. Through our research, we’ve seen that parents and their adult children alike want to engage in financial conversations – but often, they don’t. Parents are worried or unsure if their children have the information they need to be financially okay, but don’t know how to get the conversation started. Adult children don’t believe parents are sharing enough information with them. But a key takeaway we found is that the rising generation is eager and willing to learn more about money from their parents and contribute to their own financial success.

How the rising generation feels about money

In early 2022, Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management (WIM), conducted two research studies with Rising Gen members who stand to inherit significant wealth from their parents. The survey included 551 individuals, ages 20-39, who expect to receive at least $1 million from their parents. 86% of respondents say the most important thing they will inherit from their parents is their values - not their money. 46% of respondents report their parent rarely or never have conversations with them about money values and the roles that money plays in their lives.

Whatever may be holding your family back from breaking the ice, we want to impart some actionable insights to alleviate your concerns and get the conversation flowing. First, it’s important to recognize that while your individual goals may be different, your family likely shares similar goals around utilizing money and realizing its full potential. The chart below demonstrates one possible scenario that shows how your family’s goals may overlap:

Parent Goals: Shared Goals: Child Goals:
Retire comfortably Keep channels of communication open Buy a home
Create a business succession plan Understand my family’s values Get a dream job
Travel abroad Align my money with my goals Move to a new city
 Ensure legacy is secured Share wealth with others Start a family

Feel fulfilled Get an education

Consult financial professionals to help reach goals

With the assurance that your family likely will have common goals, check out the list below for some tips on beginning family money conversations:

Set the scene

Schedule your conversation to take place in a neutral setting and have everyone commit to showing up without distractions. Once there, openly discuss ideas, concerns, and fears. Your conversations don’t have to be overly complicated – getting the ball rolling is an important first step, so don’t worry about planning it around the right moment or having a perfectly laid out agenda.

Impart your history and values

Share your own values and create a judgment-free space to get a sense of your children’s values. This is your opportunity to impart any financial stewardship you want to pass on to your loved ones. Aim to be open and transparent about your ideas, values, and goals. Once everyone understands their individual and shared values, your family should have context for future specific financial conversations.

Ask open-ended questions

Looking for ways to get the conversation started? Try some of these starter questions and see where the answers take you:

  1. What goals have you been proud to accomplish?
  2. What is the biggest goal you want to accomplish next?
  3. How do you see your money working for you?
  4. What have you learned about money that you wish you knew earlier?
  5. Is there any information you want to know more about?

Create a structure

Set recurring meetings so that communicating is not just a one- time event. As conversations occur, keep necessary family members updated if important changes arise to help move forward with a shared vision.

Talk with your advisor

Schedule time with your advisor to evaluate what tools you can start introducing to your family as they embark on their own planning journey. Discuss whether it makes sense to include your family in your next financial conversation.