Head of Family Dynamics Katherine Dean discusses the importance of family dynamics and how it can help families unlock the personal side of wealth and deepen bonds, strengthen communication, and prepare for the successful transition of wealth and values across generations.

Transcript: Family Dynamics at Wells Fargo Private Bank


Family Dynamics is really planning at the intersection of both the financial and the non-financial elements of your life. Global research has shown that over 70 percent of wealth dissipates by the third generation.1 Why? Three primary factors drive this shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves phenomenon. Number one, lack of communication and trust in the family; number two, not properly preparing heirs; and number three, not having a family mission statement. When you really reflect on this, these variables are all about people, relationships and communication, and I have not yet come across one family who doesn't have a desire to maintain and deepen purposeful relationships in their family unit.

One of the reasons it's personally important to me is that my husband and I established our top five core values and we've shared those with our children and every year we ask them a very simple question: "What makes you proud to be a Dean?"  And when my daughter, Grace, answered the question the last time the value of contribution, which to us means giving back both financially and of our time, didn't really show up too well. So through that knowledge, we set out to create a series of exercises for our children to further instill that value. In one exercise we had Grace research and select a charity, establish why she was picking that charity, but the real value was when we drove her down in person to present a check. The feeling that instilled inside of her, into the fiber of her being, was incredible and that's something I can't tell my children, but I certainly can give them the experience. And the more I can do as a parent to create that foundation for her today, the better the chances are as she grows up and establishes her own value system that contribution will be present. This is one small example of the work that our team can provide to families through Family Dynamics.

Through this work, we hope to help our families not only successfully transfer and maintain their wealth across generations, but also to deepen their bonds, to strengthen their relationships, and to open up more trust and communication than ever before. I am so proud to work at Wells Fargo and have this opportunity to not only bring quantitative wealth planning services to bear for our clients, but also to unlock the personal side of wealth through the qualitative work of Family Dynamics.


1. Source: Williams, Roy & Preisser, Vic. "Preparing Heirs: Five Steps to a Successful Transition of Family Wealth and Values, 2003.”