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Coaching Meets Family Office Planning

You've heard of coaching and family planning, but have you heard of family coaching?

David J. Drucker, 03/16/2006

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Coaching is big business these days. Advisors flock in droves to coaches promising increased self-awareness leading to greater business success, whether through superior marketing and internal systems or a paring down of personal responsibility to match one's "unique ability."

So energized are some advisors by the transformation they accomplish that they enter the coaching field themselves. If one can acquire coaching skills, they reason, one can better serve his or her clients by coaching, not just advising, them.

What Navitas has done is to apply this thinking to the family, and not just any family--the ultra-high-net-worth family with a valuation of between $25 million and $250 million.

"What distinguishes us as a family coaching firm," says Dr. Paul White, Navitas' director, "is our focus not just on the nuclear family, but the extended family and the relationships between the family's generations."

By coaching the family on issues common to the wealthiest of clients, Navitas endeavors to integrate non-financial issues with the family's financial, legal, and business issues.

Let's get more specific. You might say the premise to Navitas' coaching niche is that wealth is both a blessing and a curse. It's perhaps even more a curse if you're born into it and didn't have a hand in its making (although you may play a role in its retention). This phenomenon gives rise to issue sets Navitas groups together as:

  • Values Transfer. How will the family's wealth impact its children's and grandchildren's values and work ethic?
  • Family Relationships. Will money enhance or destroy family relationships?
  • Outside Relationships. Does the family's money hinder its members' ability to trust outsiders and develop meaningful relationships?
  • Purpose of Wealth. Does the family have a clear vision regarding the purpose of its wealth?
  • Financial Management. Can the family and its individual members effectively manage the family's wealth?
  • Career Direction and Life Purpose. Are there family members who don't have a clear direction for their life?
  • Family Business Issues. If a family business exists (which it often does, since it's what created the wealth), are issues in running the business creating tension among family members?

If you've never heard of Navitas before, it's probably because it's a boutique firm with small offices in San Francisco, San Antonio, and Ridgeland, Miss., that chooses to keep a low profile and not do a lot of public marketing. In 2000, White joined with Navitas founders and financial advisors George Hester and Kurt Rauzi to train other advisors as wealth coaches and, in turn, conduct family retreats with their clients.

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