Why is the Rockefeller family still fabulously rich?
As you know, wealth rarely lasts much further than grandchildren. Taxes, expenses, dilution of the well-being of children and their children and the inevitable corruption of large amounts of money ultimately affect family conditions.
Yet the Rockefeller family challenged all of this. The Rockefeller family, now in its seventh generation with 170 heirs, has maintained a significant fortune – in 2016 they received a fortune of $ 11 billion, according to Forbes. This happened more than 100 years after John D. Rockefeller became America’s first billionaire after the founding of the Standard Oil Company in the late 19th century.
Even more unlikely, however, the family remained largely cohesive, without public scandals, hostility, lawsuits and tragedies that are typical to other golden dynasties. Currently, over 250 family members are direct descendants of John D. Rockefeller and Laura Spelman Rockefeller.
Rockefeller Family Portrait, Summer 1920, Seal Harbor, Maine / Left to Right: Lawrence, Babs, John D III, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller with David Senior, Winthrop, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Nelson.
Of course, the Rockefellers were very rich from the very beginning and over time, wealth increased. But Vanderbilt, Carnegie and Astora did the same, but you don’t see them still giving away billions, like the Rockefeller family. Over his life, David Rockefeller gave more than $ 1 billion.
So what is Rockefeller’s secret?
In an interview that is extremely rare for members of this dynasty, David Rockefeller Jr., Chairman of the board of directors of Rockefeller & Co., said that the family had developed a system of values, traditions and institutions that helped the family stay together and preserve their wealth. He pointed to four main components.
The first is regular family meetings.
“We meet as a family twice a year, often more than 100 people in one room, for example, for a Christmas dinner,” he said. “We have what is called a family forum. When you are 21, you are invited to these meetings. ” At these meetings, the family talks about their direction, projects, new members and any other family news related to a career or important milestones. It is important that everyone feels part of the family, even if they are married.
To keep a family history is important for the Rockefellers.
They do this in part through their family “manors,” where they can gather and connect with their past.
“These are places that have been known and passed down from generation to generation, where any member of this family, where his great-grandfather lived more than 100 years ago, can return and see how he lived, and how his son and their grandchildren lived.”
According to David Rockefeller Jr., it’s important not to have a family business. Many of the disputes in wealthy families begin because of the business – who should manage it, how to manage it and who should benefit.
The Rockefellers did not have a family business that they had to deal with starting in 1911, when Standard Oil was divided by the government into publicly traded companies due to new antitrust laws. This was the only blow after which Rockefeller’s fortune was transformed from one giant company to several public companies. Combined with a well-written series of trusts, stocks and financial assets were more easily passed on to future generations and less prone to financial wars.
“Of course, our family’s wealth is tied to Standard Oil’s oil business,” Rockefeller said. “But business did not keep us together, and there are many families who, frankly, separated him. I think that by chance we were lucky that we did not have a business that would separate us. We had a business that supplied – thanks to the trust of generations – wealth that passed from generation to generation and was distributed among an increasing number of people, but was still preserved. But we did not have a core business. ”
The strongest link holding the Rockefeller family is family values, in particular charity. Their various family foundations, including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, and the David Rockefeller Foundation, have a combined fund of more than $ 5 billion.
Family members are encouraged to participate in the foundations and help in choosing the reasons that they support. By creating a family identity center, the Rockefellers preserved the core values of John Rockefeller Jr., whose mantra is engraved on stone in the Rockefeller Center:
“For every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.”
David Rockefeller Jr. recalls how he donated to charity from the very first allowance at the age of 10. He received his allowance on Sunday and handed the part over to church or for another reason – just like John D. Rockefeller paid his salary from his first admission.
“If the values weren’t lived, the words wouldn’t have had an impact,” David Rockefeller Jr. is sure.
Based on information from the Rockefeller Archive Center