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David Werdiger's Familosophy

Vulnerability in Wealthy Families

There’s a fascinating story currently on Bloomberg about the Singh brothers – heirs to an Indian health-care empire – and their relationship with guru Gurinder Singh Dhillon. What makes this interesting is the financial relationship between them, and the dramatic fall in their fortune over the last few months.

It brings to mind another story with plenty more still to happen – that of Clare Bronfman’s involvement with a New York self-help group called Nxivm, which appears to display cult-like behaviour. In addition to Bronfman sisters using their substantial fortunes to underwrite Nxivm in a variety of ways, most recently there have been accusations of criminal behaviour including conspiracy and criminal racketeering, and Ms Bronfman herself has been arrested and is out on USD 100M bail.

Stories like this are a warning bell to wealthy families of their vulnerability to people of all kinds with ulterior and sometimes nefarious motives. Many families employ gatekeepers to protect them, but this is a never-ending game of cat and mouse. Social media and techniques like social engineering can readily be used by protagonists to worm their way in. When it comes to trust, families should observe a healthy (but not obsessive) measure of vigilance.

Consider This: Does your family have policies about the use of social media, and acceptance of ‘friendship’. Do family members have an awareness of spotting ‘hangers on’, and maintaining the right degree of scepticism and vigilance when meeting new people?

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Here is more on reading on family governance.

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