Unfolding the Future

Handing down a priceless gift: values that money can’t buy


Handing down a priceless gift:
values that money can’t buy

The wealthy who bequeath their children with more than just their money leave their legacy - and the world - in a better place.

As of March this year, Forbes estimates that there are 2,095 billionaires worldwide. Their total net worth: US$8 trillion. Perhaps the most famous among them is Mr Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway whose own net worth is reportedly US$72 billion.

His sharp instincts when it comes to investing is just as legendary as the way he lives his life - he has lived in the same house and doesn’t indulge in expensive toys that some of the ultra-rich do.

So it’s not surprising that he has not left the bulk of his fortune to his three adult children. Of course, his riches are so vast, what they have is no small change - to the tune of US$2 billion each. What’s instructive about Mr Buffet’s legacy is that he and his late wife were clear-eyed about one un-moveable condition: his children would inherit something far more valuable than his money.
In interviews with the media, his children talk about what they learnt from their famous father - his incredible work ethic and the importance of being prudent. Add to that, his belief that money is only as good as the paper it was printed on if it were not used to better society. “If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%,’’ said Mr Buffet and this philosophy has stood the test of time in his own family.

All three children are heavily involved in philanthropy - with causes ranging from supporting indigenous communities, to supporting women and children who are disenfranchised.

But what does passing on values really mean?

Experts say values are frames or filters which humans use that has a direct impact on thought, behaviour and action.
Every successful businessman already has a set of values he prescribes to and that which made him successful in the first place. Intangible things like being fair, working hard, taking responsibility, showing up even when things get difficult. These don’t magically appear in children or adults - they are cultivated carefully, purposefully, lovingly through words and deeds over many years.

Done right, as in the case of Mr Buffet, the gift of handing down values leads to a more enduring, sustainable legacy that will come without a price tag but is worth its weight in gold.

Reference: Forbes / Business Insider / CNBC