National Women’s Day, SA – Clients share their thoughts on family lifePublished on 07 Aug 2020
9th August is National Women’s Day in South Africa. To mark the occasion, the team connected with a few of our female clients to gather some of the practical wisdom they offer on various aspects of family life.
We spoke to Sophia Booysen, director and Relationship Manager in our South African Family Office, about what they found out.
Many women we spoke to feel responsible for their family’s emotional well-being. A lot of them see it as the glue that keeps a family together. Empowerment was another theme – this widespread sense that making all family members feel empowered is a crucial part of the matriarch’s role.
Start the process of handing over to the next generation sooner rather than later. This was a view expressed several times – that involving the next generation of leaders when the existing leader is still alive is a real advantage. Indeed, there was a general feeling that involving the younger generation sooner takes the burden off single family heads who have often felt left to make all the decisions alone.
Time together is a big theme. Connecting with family members as individuals is key. Many matriarchs told us of the importance of making time to communicate with each member alone as it helps them keep their finger on the pulse. Many also stressed the importance of family meals around the table – importantly, they noted, phones should not be allowed. The view is that these times together offer valuable opportunities for all family members to voice concerns or simply share feelings and experiences.
Many matriarchs are concerned that their children shouldn’t grow up with a sense of entitlement. Some worry that their children derive their sense of worth from the family bank balance or size of their property portfolio. There is a feeling that this can be counterbalanced by highlighting the importance of striking a balance between enjoying wealth and being responsible with its preservation.
Most women we spoke to agree it is difficult to teach children the value of money. This is particularly so if they have only known a life of wealth. Many life lessons, mothers fear, are skipped if everything is handed to them on a plate. There are also concerns around ambition. Families increasingly recognise that having no requirement to bring home an income can dampen people’s drive. Having said that, most people we spoke to are confident that growing up with the advantages of wealth will encourage their children to want to be successful.
Philanthropy often seems to fall to the women in the family. Many we spoke to report that their family’s philanthropic projects end up managed by them, including engaging the younger family members. Generally, they are aware that the next generation can be passionate about their own causes and should be encouraged to support initiatives that interest them.
Covid-19 has brought families together. Most of the women we spoke to agree that living through a pandemic has brought their families closer and given them time to think about certain aspects of family life and business. Many report that important decisions about succession have been made over the period, including the extent to which children should start to take up their responsibilities in the family.