BUSINESSMEN, who are running family businesses, are encouraged to pass on to their children not only their companies and the large amount of money that comes along with a successful venture but also a true moral compass to guide the next generation to help them determine what is right or wrong.
Ambassador Gregory Slayton, a member of the board of advisers at Google and Salesforce.com, gave this advice as he discussed about “transferring true wealth to the next generation” before 400 delegates during last month’s 26th Visayas Area Business Conference in Cebu City.
“Studies show that larger amounts of money that are transferred generationally without a true moral compass, strong faith and a strong character.
The larger amount of money that’s transferred frequently has a destructive effect on the next generation,” said Slayton, who also served as ambassador to Bermuda under US presidents Barack Obama and George Bush.
He said that businessmen should put more value on leaving a lasting legacy than passing on the company to their children.
He emphasized the need to transfer a true moral compass to the next generation instead.
“You won’t be around to help your children make those really difficult decisions in 20 to 50 years, but the moral compass you give them will always be with them,” Slayton said.
Slayton said parents can transfer a true moral compass to their children through what they say, what they do and through direct conversations with their kids about right and wrong.
He pointed out that the sense of right and wrong is first learned within the family, not in school or in the church.
“It is our responsibility to show our children, when they are young and while they are growing up, what is right,” he added.
Slayton cited SEAOIL Philippines president and chief executive officer Glenn Yu, whose grandfather built their company on doing honorable business, as “living proof” of this legacy.
“The legacy that his grandfather passed on to his father then passed on to him is doing business honorably, paying all their taxes, and never paying bribes,” said Slayton.
“A true moral compass is more valuable than the biggest company. Over the generations, if our children and grandchildren make the right decisions and do the right things, overall, that’s going to benefit our company far more than the amount of money we transfer,” he added.
Other than the compass, Slayton said it is also important for parents to give their children a “good name” by ensuring their own conduct is honorable and for them to help their kids build a strong character.
The ambassador also shared how businessmen can pass on the physical wealth, putting emphasis on the need to teach children to learn the value of hard work, allowing their children to work outside their own companies as well as crafting a family charter which will be useful for the business as well.