Pitcairn Update, January 2016
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The following is a summary of the opening remarks presented by President & CEO Leslie Voth at the 2015 Pitcairn Family Wealth & Investment Forum.
Though families come to wealth through many different paths, they often face similar challenges relating to issues of wealth and family. Pitcairn has found that education and leadership work hand-in-hand to successfully address such issues.
A common concern for families is how to bring the next generation into family wealth discussions, including when and how much to tell children about the family’s financial situation. Older family members want to thoughtfully prepare future generations to be capable stewards of family wealth. At Pitcairn, we believe education fosters family communication and eases family transitions.
Leadership is equally important for successful family transitions. We understand that leading a family is just as challenging as building a business. And though the skill set required for an entrepreneur or CEO is not exactly the skill set needed to guide a family, some elements of good leadership are universal. At Pitcairn, I strive for authentic leadership, which embraces open dialogue and transparency. Authentic leadership means talking about what is working and, even more importantly, what is not working. It’s being an effective listener, asking good questions and waiting for responses. It’s slowing down conversations to make real connections with colleagues and clients. Authentic leadership is about a passion for continuous learning and investing in the education of future leaders. It also means something many have a tough time with – letting people make mistakes. The authentic style of leadership we want to have with our clients and colleagues parallels the leadership in your family and the type of relationships you value.
Education and leadership are especially vital for businesses and families in the midst of generational evolutions. We have spoken often about how Pitcairn’s workforce has evolved. We have had 15 retirements within five years and 60% of our workforce is now under the age of 50. Our experience is typical of a change happening all across our country, one that affects many businesses and families. Gen X and Millennials will be 50% of our country’s work force in five years and 70% of the workforce in 10 years.
Similarly, in families, we’re all living longer, so we have a tapestry of different generations. This is a really wonderful time to think about the concept of a multi-generational family and how to thoughtfully and purposefully bring in the next generation. That is exactly what we have been doing in the Pitcairn family office and we are happy to apply our experiences in ways that will benefit families of wealth.
The new diversity of our workforce has opened up opportunities and also created some management challenges. Our younger colleagues compel us to think outside the box and prod us to act in bold ways. They are eager to be involved and impatient with bureaucracy. Their presence has spurred us to think carefully about how to unify a team of Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. Our commitment to authentic leadership has been instrumental in this effort. Open dialogue, continuous learning, and purposeful development of future leaders have fostered an environment of mutual respect and camaraderie. We have worked hard to help new team members understand and embrace Pitcairn’s culture, which now serves as a unifying thread that enables strong relationships between people with wide-ranging life experiences, varied perspectives, and diverse expectations.
As you can see, Pitcairn is working its way through growth and transition similar to what many families experience. We are taking a thoughtful approach, but are committed to being bold when necessary and willing to learn from mistakes when they happen. We will continue to innovate. We will continue to evolve. Most importantly, we will apply all that we are learning to help make family transitions smoother and more successful.