Jamie Oliver celebrity chef and father of five, has admitted to losing £90 million since 2014 by investing in friends’ projects. He is now on record as saying ‘I should not have mixed business and pleasure’.
Jamie Oliver, came up in a conversation I had last week with one of my UK dom clients who I will call Bobby, who is not dissimilar in situation and background to Jamie Oliver. Whereas, Bobby was brought up in Suffolk, not Essex, went to a Comprehensive school not a grammar school, both are UK resident and UK domiciled, both are high profile with high profile families, both have made millions in books and related businesses, both have been caught up in bad press and public disputes, and both have lost tens of millions in loss making projects with ‘friends’.
Bobby was candid about his experience and his expectations of what he thought it would be like doing business with family. I quizzed him on the subject, ‘When I started to make money, it was so exciting, I wanted to share it with everyone, I had made more than my wildest dreams, I wanted everyone to know that I was the same bloke, same standards and values; still like watching football, having a drink with my mates and giving a helping hand where I can, but the people I came across, even my old mates, treated me differently when I had a few bob – I did not want money to change the relationships with those around me but felt almost forced to.’
He went on, ‘I was foolish to bring my family into my business profile.’ We were such a happy family when the kids were young, I could not see how publicity could harm them’.
Bobby has two adult kids, who I will call Jack and Lucy, and two younger ones. ‘Jack and Lucy have had to learn quickly who their real friends are, they had to deal with a lot of negativity and pressure on social media and at school. ‘They now tend to gravitate towards kids of wealthy parents, who understand what it is like to be born into a rich family, but my concern is that a lot of them lack any direction or drive.' He described to me how Lucy made a friend whose parents live in Monaco. Most weekends her father sends a private plane to pick her up to ‘come home’, and whenever Lucy has been with them, the parents are rarely there. They go out with a group of other kids in Monaco where they wear expensive clothes, go to ludicrously expensive nightclubs and get boozed or worse. Bobby says that it took a while for Lucy to find her way out of the group as she has always been an ambitious and driven kid who wants to make a difference.
I explored with Bobby what his goals were. This is a topic I go into in some detail in Chapter 1 of my book ‘When you are Super Rich who can you Trust?’ It soon became clear that Bobby wanted to give his kids a sense of purpose and responsibility.
After a meeting with Jack and Lucy, it became obvious that Jack was drawn to co-investment and project planning – which his father is poor at, and Lucy, was keen to manage a team of advisers and her father’s charitable endeavours.
We; Jack, Lucy and I, with their father’s blessing, set to work on elaborating on the goals set by their father and in selecting a team of advisers which would assist them in delivering his goals, the family’s inner Ring of Confidence. We then needed a structure into which all elements could fit including the family’s objectives, with clear rules as to what was expected of each adviser, and the structure could be adapted to new circumstances over time.
Jack and Lucy, were excited as they had always wanted to find roles for themselves in their father's business but because he had been badly bruised when working with family and friends previously, he was cautious of bringing his children on board as well. It took him some time to recognise the potential and to recognise that the young generation can be the continuation rather than the destruction of wealth.
The first step was to produce a Report with recommendations which we put to Bobby in early June; he approved. We then agreed an action plan, on how to implement, which we is not nearly complete. Bobby is thrilled. ‘We may not have been able to put back the clock, but we have found a way to engage Jack and Lucy in consolidating and building on my work, filling in the gaps and making my wealth and legacy go further in a way I clearly cannot!’.
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