-A Personal Story by Nicholas Charles 

As a child my father shared a profound story with me. He told me that his grandfather was a strong proud man who became a self-made millionaire in his village in Cyprus. He controlled a significant proportion of land and used the land to create his wealth. However, by the time my father was eight years of age the wealth had completely dissipated. My father should have been 3rd generation wealth, but instead he grew up in poverty and came to England with no money to his name but with huge aspirations to become a successful businessman. He succeeded and managed to create a vast property portfolio and an accountancy practice that is still running today serving hundreds of clients. From the third to first generation my father restarted the cycle of wealth. When I originally heard this story I was inspired by my father’s success story but it quickly dawned on me – My family history meant that I was destined to lose ALL the wealth my father had built. 

I was to later discover that what my family had experienced was “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” This adage describes the inability of grandchildren to manage the wealth passed down to them from their grandparents and parents and it has hung over the world’s highest net-worth families for decades, threatening the continuation of family legacies. Although what my family had experienced was a common phenomenon, I was still exceptionally worried about destroying my father’s financial legacy. Maybe that was one of the drivers that enabled me to become one of the youngest qualified accountants in England or to take a keen interest in how to manage wealth through successful real estate investing? What was evident was that I wanted to learn what it took to successfully understand multi-generation wealth.

As a tax adviser to wealthy clients I was shocked that despite providing advice that saved my clients millions of pounds that some still managed to dissipate the wealth. This came to a head when I helped one of my clients through a 6-year litigation battle with her own sibling. The shock was not necessarily the millions wasted on legal costs but the fact that it could have so easily been avoided. Unfortunately for my client, I was only brought in after the relationship with her sibling had been destroyed beyond repair.

With both my family history and the experience I had built up dealing with my tax advisory clients I started researching the real reasons why family’s fail to retain wealth for multiple generations. I eventually created the Four Fundamentals of Family Prosperity© that I now help my clients implement so that they can avoid being another sad statistic which shows that 90% of families fail financially within three generations.

It amazes me that 99.9% of traditional professional advisors (tax advisors, lawyers, wealth planners, financial advisors etc.) do not even help families to deal with the true reasons for multi-generational financial failure. Whilst their services are essential and have dramatically improved over the last fifty years research has shown that they do not help families deal with the main reasons for financial failure. 95% of the causes for multi-generational financial failure are as follows:

  • Poor communication leading to distrust amongst family members
  • Failing to prepare the heirs to receive the wealth
  • Failing to have an inspiring purposeful vision for the family’s wealth

At the Charles Group we help families to understand the business of being a family by focusing on the human value of family wealth. Essentially, we do this by implementing the Four Fundamentals of Family Prosperity which helps to achieve the following:

  • Help the family understand where they are today through our detailed risk analysis (the present reality)

  • Get clear on where the family wants to go (the ideal future reality)

  • Create the steps to help them get their (to bridge the gap)


Whilst every family is unique the process is designed to assist all families whose intention and values are to achieve a successful, loving family to ensure the wealth not just survives but thrives for multiple generations.

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