Preserving wealth and growing wealth is one of our life’s greatest pursuits. A lot of our time and effort goes into this pursuit, which begins right from the time we begin earning and continues for as long as we live. The recent events and consequences of the pandemic also brought to focus the vulnerability and uncertainty we now face. The concerns are not just limited to our existing wealth but also to our source of income, either through business, profession or employment. In this article, we dig deeper into some of the biggest wealth concerns that we face in the real world, either knowingly or unknowingly. The seven big concerns are as follows:
The constant and the biggest concern we face is something we are well aware of – inflation. Milton Friedman once famously said, “Inflation is taxation without legislation”. With inflation ranging between 4-6% in the last few years, even by doing nothing we are losing value on idle wealth. You have to grow your wealth with this minimum benchmark rate just to preserve the existing value. Remember, that these returns have to be considered as net after adjusting for taxation, something we call ‘real returns’ or the returns after adjusting for taxes and inflation. Having proper investment planning or financial planning led by a trusted expert can help us to preserve and grow our wealth.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. Every income earned is subject to taxation, and the amount of tax depends primarily on the nature of income and the taxpayer. Most of us fall in the tax rate of 30% (plus surcharges) as individuals, and this can easily go over 40% for high earners. This makes taxes one of the most hated things for many, and we all actively engage in tax planning to reduce our burden, legally of course.
3. Marital relations
Marriage is not just a big decision on the personal front, but it is also on the financial front. With good families spending a fortune on marriage, it comes as a big financial goal. However, beyond emotions, the biggest financial risk is when the marriage does not work out. While the husband may face prospects of paying huge alimony, the wife on the other hand is at the receiving end of losing financial support after having lost productive years of career growth in a sour marriage; add child care to this complexity. It is said that a marriage can either be the best or the worst thing to happen to you, both on the personal and financial front. Needless to say, it can be a big concern, which most of us only think about when things do not go as expected.
4. Intergenerational relations
There is a popular quote in the Hindi language which literally translates to ‘Why do you need money if you have a good child, and what is the use of money if you have a bad child?’ Families, today, spend a fortune in raising, entertaining and educating children. We sacrifice our own comfort and luxuries to put them in a position to exploit the best opportunities in life. However, many run the risk of making things too easy and comfortable for them. Many successful parents today have little reason to get impressed by the success of their own children. Relations between children are also a big concern, especially where a big family business is involved. There is a challenge of distributing business interests, only if they are eager to take it up with vigour. Needless to say, beyond emotions and responsibilities, having children has big financial implications in different forms- some good, some bad which last throughout the lifetime.
5. Wealth Transfer
Wealth transfer to the next generation, either during the lifetime or after death, is a big concern not just for the rich and famous but even for most of us having any wealth created or property acquired during the lifetime. Wealth transfer becomes even more complicated when there are dependents to be cared for, multiple claimants/eligible persons for property or worse conflicts. Writing of wills, estate planning, formation of trusts, etc are the ways to tackle this problem. In absence of any solution, the law would take its own course and that can be something which may not be to our liking.
6. Unforeseen Events /Risks
The recent pandemic exposed our vulnerability and laid bare the fragility of most small businesses. Unforeseen and unpredictable events like health crises, natural calamities, man-made conflicts, wars and even political instability can be potentially damaging to your life, business, livelihood and even the way you live. At a personal level, health, accidents, illness, death, professional liabilities, etc, can again be life-altering. One of the easiest and most effective ways of managing a lot of these risks is through insurance, but it can only protect you against some financial loss that has occurred but not everything.
7. Technological Disruptions
With a constantly evolving world, one of the greatest threats is technological disruptions which can potentially make jobs, roles, products, services and businesses disappear in no time. We have seen this, time and again. Many studies have shown that a lot of today’s jobs and skills will not even exist in the next decade, while many new opportunities will crop up. Are we as individuals and businesses well-equipped to survive the disruptions? This is a big concern to have and to think about. Upskilling, learning, innovation, investment in research & development, etc are some ways with which we can manage these risks.