I am the third generation in my family business, which was founded by my grandfather in the 1940s. When you’re part of a firm that’s over 75 years old, you have some unique opportunities—one of which is working with multi-generational families. These clients worked with us in the early years, and our team members refer to them with endearment and a tremendous amount of respect. It also makes working with subsequent generations very rewarding. As the planning of the first and second generations becomes realized, we get to know the third and help them perpetuate long-standing values, while fulfilling their own unique purposes.
Another opportunity presents itself in the philanthropic arena. Like many advisors, our team works with clients to structure charitable gifts, but we have also been around long enough to have seen millions of dollars actually gifted to charities.
I reflected on these two privileges in the winter of 2021, when I, along with our managing partner, Elli Schochet, met with the grandchildren of Mr. M, the subject of this case study. Mr. M came to us in the 1950s for extensive business and personal insurance planning. And in the 1980s, my grandfather Al. G Brown z”l sold him a charitable policy payable to United Jewish Welfare Fund (UJWF), which is now known as the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto.
In 2007, Janice Benatar at the Jewish Foundation met with Mr. M to thank him for his gift of a life insurance policy. She asked whether he may want to consider transferring his private foundation, worth almost $2 million, to the Jewish Foundation. He replied that he would speak to his financial advisor David Brown z”l.
Our firm is full of notoriously meticulous notetakers, so to discover more details of this story, I ordered one of the eight files in our storage bank. I wanted to understand the impetus from a tax, financial, or estate planning perspective as to why Mr. M may have wanted to move his funds from his private foundation at a bank to UJWF. Indeed, the donor agreement had been extensively reviewed and many technical questions were asked to my father and subsequently Janice. But the main piece of advice given from my father was: “In determining whether these assets should remain in a private foundation or be transferred to a public foundation or to the UJWF, the most important variable should be the goals and visions with reference to the Jewish Foundation. This is a significant factor because these goals and visions may dictate the type of structure which is most appropriate for the private foundation.”
And it turned out that Mr. M’s main concern was not the tax benefits, the expert investment managers, or the distribution policy; all of which were discussed in the meeting and are excellent reasons to start a fund at the Jewish Foundation. The most important consideration in his decision to move his funds was succession planning—fostering relationships with the next generation was the Jewish Foundation’s policy.
The family continually made grants of four percent each year, as the funds in the foundation grew. In 2014, we witnessed the next part of this story when Mr. M’s son, who was also a client, worked with our office to donate one of his insurance policies to the Jewish Foundation. He remained active in the management of the family’s fund and had similar goals to those of his father.
Mr. M’s son included his children in his donor agreement, but prior to his passing he amended the agreement in a way that may be applicable to some of your clients. He added a clause stating that if his children were not interested in managing the family’s fund, the Jewish Foundation should continue with the pattern of giving which they have seen in the past. He felt satisfied knowing that should his children not be interested in managing the fund, his family values would still be continued.
And with this, Mr. M’s story continues. The opportunity exists for the third generation to follow in the footsteps of those before them and, at the same time, should things go differently, the family values and legacy of the founders are still protected.
This case study demonstrates why clients who are concerned about legacy and continuity may be thankful for your recommendation to the Jewish Foundation. While employing our technical planning expertise when dealing with clients is of outmost importance, we should always remember that charitable legacies are born from strong values, and when the Jewish Foundation can help your clients perpetuate those values, the future possibilities are endless.
About the Author
In her position at Al G. Brown & Associates, Sarah Brown works closely with new and existing clients and their families to understand their priorities and values, to help direct them to the services and products that align with their needs, and to keep them apprised of industry developments and opportunities that may affect them. As the third generation of Browns working in the family business, she is proud to maintain continuity and connections with a multi-generational family of clients.