In focus

What's worrying the wealthiest families?


The pandemic and its unfolding aftermath are forcing nations, institutions and individuals to look again at their plans and priorities. The same is true of wealthy families, where the questions that were always present have now become more urgent.

For the families we work with, those questions focus increasingly on the purpose of their wealth and the responsibilities that come with it. That includes responsibilities within their own family, now and in the future – as well as broader responsibilities to society.

This article provides a snapshot of what currently concerns families of wealth. It highlights concerns that relate to internal family dynamics, such as leadership, governance, family business management, relationships and plans for succession. It also highlights external concerns, which include investment returns, taxation, the political climate, and the family’s ambitions to engage with social or environmental causes through philanthropic projects.

This is the first time Cazenove Capital* has undertaken research of this kind. Our business is unique in the sphere of family office services. Like several firms, we have a centuries-long history of looking after multi-generational family wealth. Unlike others, however, we are part of a global, publicly-quoted investment business – with all the resource and security that offers – and yet a business which itself remains largely owned by the family that founded it two hundred years ago. Planning beyond the horizon of a single generation is part of our culture.

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Why we’ve canvassed the views of our family clients

The pace of change in today’s world means the gaps between generations can seem wider. Finding shared experiences and shared values can seem harder. Against this backdrop our families tell us that establishing a clear purpose for their wealth is increasingly important. Our work with many families – all different, but in many cases facing similar dilemmas – brings about the benefit of shared experience. We find that what proves successful for one family often, in some form, proves helpful to others.

So one purpose of this document is to reflect to our family clients and their advisers what other families are thinking. Another purpose, of course, is to help us provide services that match even more closely the requirements of our family clients.

The survey was conducted over several months with data gathered both by email and during the course of many conversations. We are extremely grateful to respondents for the time they have given us and the information shared. We hope you find the results as insightful as we do. 

1. Wealth in my lifetime: what am I to do with it?

2. Does my family share a vision for our wealth?

3. The biggest threats to my family’s wealth

4. Our wealth, other people and the planet

5. Giving it away

If you'd like to discuss any of the reported findings further, please contact us here.


1. Wealth in my lifetime: what am I to do with it?

The origins of every family’s wealth is different. But what most families share is a sense of questioning its purpose. Political events in recent decades, and the pandemic itself, may have played a part in bringing these questions to the fore.

2. Does my family share a vision for our wealth?

An agreed plan for wealth within the family is important to many. Even so, less than half stated that they have a “shared vision and plan for our wealth”.

3. The biggest threats to my family’s wealth

Much of the data for this report was gathered during a period of extreme uncertainty. Around the world, what began as a health crisis was turning into an economic and social crisis, with ramifications impossible to predict.

4. Our wealth, other people – and the planet

Covid-19 and successive lockdowns brought a seismic shift in how people lived, travelled and worked. Social and environmental causes gained popular support and the climate crisis rose on the world’s political stages. Resulting legislation will trigger economic and corporate consequences which investors must heed, regardless of differing views on the issues.

5. Giving it away

As we have seen, there is a powerful impulse among families to share their wealth with others. In practice this giving is undertaken in very different ways.


This article is issued by Cazenove Capital which is part of the Schroders Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. Limited, 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Nothing in this document should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

This document may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements.

All data contained within this document is sourced from Cazenove Capital unless otherwise stated.