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FO Perspective

Well-being. A simple balancing act ;)

Most of you, dear readers, would be better than me at explaining the benefits of physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social well-being. Yet wherever you are now at improving your well-being, you probably recognize that it is an important aspect of your wealth!

Now, Issue 3 introduces the other key goal, in my opinion, of family wealth: well-being.

So as I write this month’s Newsletter actively trying to figure out how to balance my personal well-being within the context of my obligation-heavy life, onto the wealth equation:

Family Wealth = Financial Assets (Human and Relational Capitals)

If you don’t take care of yourself, you show up as a weaker family participant and the family wealth suffers.

A big part of improving well-being in my life (and consulting) is simply setting the intention; family members setting out their goals that align with their family values and then going about the hard work of achieving them (and when not achieving them, learning from that!)

Having physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and even social goals are important to checking in on well-being. One particularly well researched scorecard of well-being is called “PERMA”, a system developed within the field of positive psychology.

I’ve enjoyed being on’s newsletter. They introduce the field of positive psychology here and the PERMA scorecard here.

I developed my own Balanced Scorecard; an individual’s personal development check-in tool. Email me for a copy.


Financial assets are a pretty remarkable resource when deployed into supporting well-being. Examples abound:

The best physical and social resources are not online in my opinion so no links! Although I’m actively looking for social forums for wealthy families that are actually helpful, like Farnum Street’s Learning Community has been helpful for me on understanding mental models.

Storytime! Of all the dumb-teenager decisions I made, I got really lucky with one of the best decisions I ever made; hiring a therapist from my allowance money. I was struggling with my identity post hockey career and had recently been cut from two hockey teams in a month to put the final nail in the hockey career coffin.

Although it certainly would have been healthier to talk to my parents and seek support together, it worked out well, and I’m very grateful to have been trusted enough by my parents to have my own bank account. As I reflect on ways that I’m fortunate and my, and my family’s good fortune, has positively impacted my well-being, that story stands out as an important one.


Recently I celebrated my 40th birthday with a conference for my closest friends at the Banff Centre. 

Tim Tamashiro ran us through a workshop on Ikigai, a Japanese philosophy guiding obtainment of a fulfilling life. It was fantastic. His Tedx Talk is here.

Although I am certainly no high achiever in developing my well-being, I’ve definitely improved over time. I believe the focus on being better is just as important as how strong your overall personal development is. I believe Dweck’s growth mindset sets this out well, as does James Altucher’s 1% better. It is the little improvements that make a big difference with time.


The key to family governance is the quality of the people in the family. Tough fact to admit for us advisors. It all comes down to the people.

Relational capital in one sense is the combined efforts of all the individuals. So when I’m asked what the key to effective family governance is, it is not the policies and procedures, experience, mission/vision/values that I cite. No! The key to effective family governance is having great people in the room together that care about each other.

Is money helping or hurting your impact?

Thank you for spending your time with me! FO Perspective is written for those that care deeply about us fortunate families and empowering unique answers to the tricky question “so what is all this money good for?”

FW = FA (HC + RC)

Your family wealth is equal to your financial assets multiplied by the sum of your human capital and relational capital.

A family with all the money in the world but terrible people and an inability to relate to each other and live by common values and principles? That family has no wealth in my books. A family with low wealth but is committed to growing individually and as a collective? Now that family is wealthy! To explore this equation further please check out Issue 1.

Now is as good a time as any to point out that this is definitely “lawyer math” and not, well, actual math. There’s no formula for family success. There are only helpful perspectives for influencing your efforts as family champions.

This equation anchors my key perspective that resource deployment amongst your capital pools is critical to long term family wealth. All capital pools are important and how all three capital pools (FA, HC and RC) relate to that month’s theme will be highlighted in each Newsletter.

FW: family wealth is about impact

One answer to the question “so what is all this money good for” is that the money provides for future generations. Money is good for food, shelter and security but also, ideally, opportunity.

An opportunity to make an impact.

Those future generations had better be valuable to the world, I often think. Actually most of the time I’m aiming lower in my expectations for future generations; those future generations had better be grateful for their good fortune.

But actually gratitude doesn’t cut it for me. No, coming from privilege bears a responsibility. I expect future stewards to:

  • know they are privileged;
  • know the world is not fair;
  • appreciate the unfair opportunity afforded to them; so as to
  • maximize fulfillment, reduce fears and anxieties around stewardship, and go make a big impact on their world.


Impact is a great way to measure the usefulness of family wealth over the long term.

FA: will financial assets help or hurt impact?

Far too often, financial assets lead to a little too much comfort and luxury and not enough fulfillment. On the other hand, money deployed into opportunities to learn and grow are investments in long term impact. Are resources being deployed effectively to capture more time and deploy your most valuable resource (time) more efficiently into impact opportunities?

HC: human capital is often influenced by family work scripts 

Fear of the unknown is a common impediment to fulfillment.

But there is another factor I often highlight for families; family work scripts. This short video and blog describes the concept effectively; subtle cultural references abound as to “good” and “bad” work decisions.

We are often only vaguely aware of the impact our family culture and ‘work scripts’ have on our views of productivity and worth. Which directly impacts our pursuits. Be aware of influences over your own definition of fulfillment.

Find your unique ways to make an impact.

RC: relational capital needs a broad perspective on impact and high standard of impact

If family ‘work scripts’ have such a big impact, let’s build cultures that can challenge norms and embrace unique development paths while we as families continue to honour the beaten down, reliable, work paths that are usually very valuable and therefore oft-recommended (such as family business participation).

Families could perhaps create new rituals to celebrate unique development paths to celebrate such boldness. Perhaps come up with your own family nickname for times when you follow traditional family paths (I followed my family into law (Grandmother) and entrepreneurship (both Grandfathers) and knew early-on that my stone-hands were ill-suited for following Dad into orthodontics!) I (in jest) call the pursuit of law “Jewish grandmother guilt” but I’m sure your family can come up with something catchier than that!

Taking the time (and money) required to maximize opportunities for impact is this month’s FO Perspective topic for responsible, committed family members. After all, if money is not good for maximizing fulfillment and making a big impact on the world, then what is it good for?

What is all this money actually good for?

Welcome to the FIRST edition of FO Perspective. Written especially for those that care deeply about all those fortunate families that should find their unique answer to the tricky question “So what is all this money good for?”

FW = FA (HC + RC)

No one likes reading about math. But I need to start with an equation as it frames the purpose of this newsletter. I discovered the consulting field of family governance through James E. Hughes. Which was very lucky – he’s the best in the business.

He uses a wealth equation to convey the importance of all aspects of what is important to a family. As many wealthy families tend to put too much weight into investment strategy, and because what you put your mind to tends to be your focus, families as a result put too little emphasis on the quality of their people and relationships.

So, his wealth equation:

FW = FA + HC + RC

Meaning your family wealth (FW) is equal to the sum of your financial assets (FA) plus your human capital (HC) plus your relational capital (RC).

I love the equation. In general, I like developing ways to effectively deliver important messages. I’ll try to do it often in this newsletter.

I like the message that properly valuing the growth of your people and their ability to relate to each other is as important as your assets. Developing strong wealth stewards is the most important thing since, well, what’s more important than people? Of course, strong relationships are oh so critical since we know that families, including wealthy families, must be strong. We all know family conflict.

So, your wealth is more than your money. That’s a key insight that most people say “duh” when I say it, but to be honest they still don’t align their actions with their intentions around the learning. They don’t change and they continue to overemphasize investment strategy and asset stewardship.

Here’s my spin on the equation. There’s a second lesson available with a slight change to the equation.

I believe money has the power to amplify pretty well any task or goal. It amplifies for good and for bad. Money can amplify good people into great people and bad relationships into terrible ones. Money is the gas on any fire.

My goal is to use that gas to fire up growth mindsets and family cultures. So, my family equation:

FW = FA ( HC + RC )

Your family wealth is equal to your financial assets multiplied by the sum of your human capital and relational capital. A family with all the money in the world but terrible people and an inability to relate to each other and live by common values and principles? That family has no wealth in my books. A family with low wealth but is committed to growing individually and as a collective? Now that family is wealthy!

This newsletter is an ongoing exploration of those four factors in the wealth equation through my lense as the President of a single family office (“SFO”) and the President of a wealth management firm. Our firm has a unique perspective within the industry as an Outsourced-Chief Investment Officer to a select few families (similar to how many multi-family offices (“MFO”) operate), and as an investment fund manager delivering alternative funds to the greater Canadian investment community. My timing is strong as the industry works through the increasing service expectations of UHNW families, and family offices and wealth management business models continue to adapt to UHNW family needs.

This newsletter is ultimately about the key consulting delivered to UHNW families by family governance experts. Many of the topics explored will come from the family governance perspective. A great example of the cross-section of topics covered by family governance is displayed in the Wealth of Wisdom book and podcast co-written by a fantastic family office leader in Canada, Tom McCullough.

I have the time and interest to distill the family governance industry’s views into this newsletter so you, heroic reader, get quick impactful thoughts that will shape your perspective on wealth stewardship.

In that sense I consider myself a “Sherpa” to the “Gurus” of family governance. I’d like to acknowledge the cultural appropriation I’m doing with those terms but to be honest in my life I’ve seen no better example of individuals empowering the lives of others than guides empowering hikers. I strive to make your climb up the family governance mountain your own journey, but empowered by my experience and interest in supporting you.

So, to review, the topics covered each month will be family wealth (I sometimes call “legacy”), financial assets, personal development and family culture.

FA: Money topics presented in a readily consumable manner and delivered by a non-finance professional

HC: Personal development is the key to effective family governance. Stronger people make stronger families.

RC: Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Family governance lessons on relationships between Elders, Rising Generations, burgeoning stewards and every relationship in between.

FW: What is all this money good for? Your family wealth is so much more than creating safety, security and luxury. It is a resource that can amplify strong families into 100-year families.