August 6, 2018
Do you keep your kids in the dark about your family’s money, or have you given them a flashlight so they can begin to find their way? It’s an important question to consider.
Several recent events have catalyzed today’s discussion. It seems clear that each of our families take a unique approach to sharing the details of their wealth with their children. The way we as a firm work with our families is also very different. However, we always see deep value in helping our clients manage, teach, and mentor their children (of all ages) about the role money plays in our lives. We believe each client should gain the confidence that their children are aware and prepared for their own financial future. This notion is something that Nick has coined as the “responsibility of wealth”. We do not approach these issues from the stand point of how to manage the stereotypical “spoiled rich kid” but rather from a belief that we should help young people develop a lifelong ability to understand and manage their financial affairs. We believe that there are positive long-term benefits in spending the time and energy to educate and prepare the next generation on how to deal with money.
Recently a young man who is the child of a client wanted advice on the various company 401(k) plans in which he had participated since he graduated college. We worked out a plan to consolidate those various pockets of capital into a single rollover IRA so that it could now be effectively managed and reviewed. Another client’s child wanted to discuss combining their assets as they entered marriage. Another young person was seeking advice on the merits of budgeting and savings. These are just some of the examples of the issues we address during our work each day. It’s hard for young people who have limited financial means to reach out to professionals for counsel, but we feel this service, and the time spent with this next generation of investors, is critical. We embrace the opportunity to help.
Each client has a different opinion as to what they want and when they want their children to know about their wealth. This is of course a personal decision. Some families choose to keep their children in the dark about their families’ financial circumstance. In effect, these children receive the news when an estate lawyer reads the will. Thankfully, this is the exception for most of our clients. Many clients see the benefits of sharing their family’s financial circumstances with their children at a much earlier point. Some families have regular family meetings to discuss the market and cash flow needs of the family. There are no right answers as each family and each family member is different. But we are convinced we all have a responsibility to make certain that family members are prepared for the future.
July 30, 2018
This past week I was sitting in my car at a red light when I noticed something whiz by me heading in the wrong direction. After checking my rear-view mirror, I realized that it was someone riding on a “Lime” motor scooter. Lime is one of the recent startups in the growing shared economy space. The shared economy is defined as online peer to peer markets of products or services, like Uber or Airbnb. These companies are both good examples of how quickly startups in the shared economy can grow from simple ideas into companies worth billions. Lime is just like Uber, but for motor scooters.
Just over three weeks ago, Lime and one of its competitors, Bird Scooters, announced the closing of investments that value each of the companies at over $1 billion. Bird later closed an additional round of funding valuing the company at $2 billion. The valuations may seem crazy, but what is even more amazing is that both companies were only started in 2017.
Shared scooters can now be found on most street corners around Atlanta. To get a ride you begin by downloading the phone app. After entering in your payment details and contact information you are ready to go. The typical cost structure is to pay $1 to begin your ride, and then for every minute you travel you will be charged an additional 15 cents. Anyone with the app can walk up to any scooter and take it for a ride. Once you are done, you can leave the scooter at the end of your journey.
Using technology like GPS, and the enhancement of internet speed & security, companies like Bird and Lime have been able to deploy their fleets of scooters through the network they have built through their apps. The scooters run on lithium ion batteries and must be recharged each night. To enable this to happen the company will pay users of the app to pick up the scooters each night, charge them, and place them back out on the city sidewalks before 7am. Charging scooters can be a great side gig for millennials who are already familiar with making money by giving rides through Uber, or renting out spare rooms in their houses through Airbnb.
While their system is working, and the scooters appear on the sidewalk each morning like clockwork, it remains unclear whether the businesses will be successful long term. The biggest problem facing Bird and Lime has been push-back from the cities in which they operate. While a scooter is a fun and cheap way to commute, many people traveling on foot and in cars find them to be a nuisance. It seems that it is only a matter of time before someone has an accident. Maybe that will prompt regulators to create rules and restrictions that will impact the valuation of these companies, if not outlawing them altogether. An investment in Lime or Bird may well be riskier than simply taking a ride on one of their scooters.