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Role of innovation in building long-term wealth

By Kemi Ojenike
20 September 2023   |   3:18 am
The reality of change, as the most constant aspect of life, must be wholeheartedly embraced by any family aspiring to achieve multigenerational prosperity. Today’s successes will inevitably face challenges from the innovations of tomorrow.

The reality of change, as the most constant aspect of life, must be wholeheartedly embraced by any family aspiring to achieve multigenerational prosperity. Today’s successes will inevitably face challenges from the innovations of tomorrow. Here, innovation refers to the practical implementation of ideas resulting in the introduction of new goods or services, or enhancements to existing ones. It is essentially the process of creating something novel or better. One significant consequence of innovation is the disruption it causes to established methods, services, and processes, often leading to a sharp decline in demand for the old ways.

Flourishing businesses of today, which support the wealth of families, are not immune to the impact of innovation; it’s only a matter of time. If the sole strategy for maintaining wealth is to preserve the status quo while disregarding potential disruptions within the industry, that wealth has already embarked on a path of decline that will ultimately erode it.

If in doubt, consider the highly successful businesses of the past. Kodak, the American technology company that manufactured film cameras and photographic film, was once among the world’s most successful companies, generating billions of dollars in revenue. The business was displaced by the rise of digital photography, which made film cameras obsolete.

There was a time when landline phones were in high demand, and companies within this industry thrived as custodians of the primary means for making and receiving phone calls. However, today, mobile phones have seized control of the market, supplanting a product that was once highly sought after.

One cannot help but mention the disruptive changes in the entertainment sector. Blockbuster, once an American entertainment giant that provided home video and video game rental services, stood as the largest video rental chain globally, boasting over 9,000 stores at its peak. Blockbuster was displaced by the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which offer a more convenient and affordable way to watch movies and TV shows.

In an ever-changing and dynamic world, the preservation and growth of family wealth across multiple generations demand a proactive and adaptive approach. Building stronger and more resilient family legacies requires a sharp awareness of market trends, technological advancements, and significant events.

The task of safeguarding family wealth over generations is a complex and multifaceted challenge. Often, families place exclusive emphasis on financial strategies and investment management, inadvertently overlooking the crucial element of innovation. This oversight can lead to a gradual erosion of wealth as the world rapidly evolves.

To ensure the enduring prosperity of family wealth, it is imperative to recognize that its management is not a static process but rather a dynamic one. Innovation must be a pivotal consideration in every wealth preservation strategy.

Understanding the times:
Staying attuned to market trends is vital for maintaining and growing family wealth. Economic, social, and geopolitical changes can significantly impact investment landscapes and alter the value of different asset classes. By monitoring and analyzing market trends, families can identify emerging opportunities and mitigate potential risks. Engaging with financial experts and advisors who possess an in-depth understanding of market dynamics can further augment this process.

Furthermore, in today’s digital age, technology trends are transforming industries at an unprecedented pace. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and automation are revolutionizing business models and creating new avenues for wealth creation. Fostering a culture of technological awareness and embracing these advancements enables families to capitalize on innovation to unlock growth and generate sustainable returns.

Leveraging intellectual capital:
A family’s intellectual capital, encompassing its members’ knowledge, skills, and expertise, is a valuable resource for leveraging innovation. Encouraging family members to cultivate diverse skill sets and expertise equips them with the tools to identify and seize emerging opportunities. Facilitating continuous learning through educational programs, workshops, and networking events can help family members stay ahead of the curve.

Moreover, by fostering an environment that values entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship, families can harness the entrepreneurial spirit within their ranks. Encouraging family members to pursue innovative ventures or spearhead new initiatives can lead to the creation of additional streams of wealth. This approach also instils a sense of purpose and commitment within the family, fostering stronger bonds and collective resilience.

Collaborative partnerships and networks:
Collaboration is key to capitalising on innovation and maximizing the potential of family wealth. Engaging with external partners, such as venture capitalists, private equity firms, and technology incubators, can provide access to cutting-edge opportunities and industry insights. By forming strategic alliances and networks, families can leverage the expertise and resources of others, expanding their knowledge base and amplifying their impact.

Additionally, families can consider establishing their own family offices or investment funds, dedicated to actively managing their wealth and exploring innovative investment strategies. These entities serve as platforms for centralized decision-making, ensuring a focused and coordinated approach to innovation and wealth preservation.

For the long-term preservation of family wealth, embracing innovation is no longer optional; it is imperative. Families that vigilantly track market trends, technological advancements, and global events position themselves to thrive in a rapidly changing world. By leveraging their human and intellectual capital, forging strategic partnerships, and fostering a culture of innovation, families can build robust and resilient legacies that will span generations.

Innovation becomes the bedrock upon which the family’s wealth thrives, adapting and flourishing in an ever-changing landscape.
Ojenike is a Family Wealth Advisor at Meristem Family Office.