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Introducing Strategic Wealth Management

I persuaded my family that we needed to take a disciplined and coordinated approach to what I call “strategic wealth management.” Strategic wealth management is a philosophy and approach to wealth building that involves a number of key components: defining family purpose; setting goals for investments, family businesses, and individual careers; deciding on a time horizon for wealth management planning (your lifetime or multiple generations); asset, liability, and cash flow management; control of spending; wealth transfer; and tax and risk mitigation—all coordinated in a strategic, synchronized way that results in the whole being worth more than the sum of the parts. Strategic wealth management is a comprehensive approach to managing wealth productively in which synergies come from careful planning and from leveraging a family’s assets in purposeful ways, not just for a lifetime, but, in our case, for multiple generations. It’s also about respecting each individual family member and committing ourselves as a family to helping each one of them to lead productive, happy lives. Remember our American Declaration of Independence; what has made our country great is respect for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If each one of us is useful, each of us will be productive and our family will be stronger. Being useful is a very broad concept. It’s about much more than making money or being the smartest guy in the room. Business success and intellect are important, but being useful is also about being honest, taking care of customers, inspiring children to learn in school or designing someone’s dream home. I learned an important lesson from a friend named Charlie. You can be an inspiration to countless numbers simply with a radiant smile and a “can do” attitude.

The Lucases are far from perfect as a family. We are all flawed as individuals, too. It really irritates me when people tell me how wonderful my family is and then woefully say, “if only you understood my situation,” as if to excuse their own passive acceptance of their circumstances. Making any family function well takes determined resolve and serious compromise, and there are occasions when no amount of resolve will make a family functional. What may differentiate my family somewhat is that, as a group, we focus on the values that we think should drive the future management of our family enterprise. We talk about our family’s shared heritage—a heritage built on “pluck,” persistence, personal flint, and private Quaker faith (plus a few other religions)—and our individuality. We also discuss our tolerance for entrepreneurial risk taking, our expectations for earned income, our desire for investment income, and our long-term goals for the future, as individuals, as nuclear families, as the Lucas family, and as descendents of E. A. Stuart. The overriding question in all these discussions is, How do we take measured and educated risks, with the potential benefit of growing our human capital over multiple generations? Family is a work in progress; it always will be. To Joe Mansueto’s point in his Foreword, if we manage the work successfully, we will have true wealth, not just money.

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