The perils of high net worth family wealth management: Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Lee Kun Hee, Samsung Electronics Co. chairman, and South Korea’s wealthiest citizen, is facing lawsuits brought against him by his older brother and sister who are vying for a their slice of the family fortune.
Lee, 70 and a billionaire, grew his family’s dried fish and produce company into the world’s largest producer of TVs and mobile phones. “The siblings are demanding at least an $850 million stake in the group that generates about 20 percent of South Korea’s gross domestic product.” Bloomberg reports.
Blood is thicker than water, but is business always a family affair? So asks a new Forbes Insights report, Global Wealth and Family Ties, which analyzed 1,253 of the world’s largest fortunes in 12 countries from the perspective of family involvement in running the business.
Conventional wisdom about multigenerational fortunes is that the first generation makes it, the second one spends it, and the third one squanders it. But the report finds many exceptions, citing, for example, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH. The richest man in France, he is second generation, but used his inheritance to create his own billion-dollar fortune.
In studying high net worth family wealth management, the study finds that near half of the largest fotunes surveyed are run with family involvement. The remainder are managed by individuals.
Fun facts: The highest percentage of family-run businesses are found in Hong Kong, India, and the Middle East, the report found. In Europe, 55 percent of family fortune businesses are run by non-family. France is the country in which fortunes are managed most by families (64 percent), while the United Kingdom is the most “individualistic,” with just one-quarter of family fortune businesses run by the families. The U.S. “still remains the center of innovation and entrepreneurship where a majority of businesses are run without family involvement,” the report states. “Fortunes are still mostly self-made.”
Indeed, a first quarter wealth level study of U.S. Ultra High Net Worth households with a net worth between $5 million and $24.9 million (not including primary residence) finds that only 11 percent of these investors who are business owners said family connections was a primary source of their wealth. Almost one-third (32 percent) attributed their wealth to running their own business, while 26 percent said
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.