The Book of Stories 2.0 – a short cut to understanding families and their attitudes to money
This week, Senior Analyst Jennifer Mallett discusses some of Platforum’s research into intergenerational financial planning that helped creates Charles Stanley’s Book of Stories 2.0.
The route to successful intergenerational financial planning rests in the answers to some unfamiliar questions. How do families really talk about money and the future? Who starts the conversations and just how far do they go? What stories and habits – both inspiring and shocking – do families pass down the generations?

These questions and more formed our brief from Charles Stanley. This followed up on the award winning first Book of Stories we authored last year, where we dug into how the wealth manager has successfully retained as clients multiple generations of families. Our second exploration – the Book of Stories 2.0 – focused on families’ stories, told in their own words, and also drew on the practical experience of advisers within the wider industry outside Charles Stanley.

Families have been changing and many have grown more complicated, as we quickly discovered in our interviews – especially in their values and approaches to money. The pandemic has accelerated some developments in work patterns and the ubiquitous use of technology by people of all ages. And it has had a similarly seismic impact on families and their finances.

An indication of how family money issues have changed in the last few months is the number of retirees wondering if they can afford to make gifts to their younger relatives – and whether they really should open the doors of the bank of mum and dad. One worry is how might it change the relationship?

Consumers and advisers spoke honestly and movingly about their experiences with both their money and their relatives, providing readers with valuable insights that would ordinarily take advisers years to acquire. The in-depth interviews uncovered family sagas about trust and suspicion, care and neglect, love and alienation. The institution of the family is clearly still central to society – especially when it comes to questions of money – but it is never predictable and advisers should be careful about making too many assumptions.

Listening, as ever, is a core skill for advisers – and reading and discussing the Book of Stories makes this very clear, while preparing advisers for some of the range of stories they will encounter in their own practices.

We saw first-hand how families talk about money – how experience moulds values and behaviour and why some people react against their parents’ ways, while others strive to copy them. Then in-depth interviews and roundtables with advisers uncovered how seasoned advisers build financial plans, robust but nimble enough for the most complicated family relationships.

The Book of Stories 2.0 is available to download here and offers 2 hours of structured CPD for advisers.