Written By Don Logay | Photography By Victoria Ferriz
Reaching a level of abundant wealth – whether that’s by selling your business, inheritance or years of smart planning and saving – is a milestone many are happy to achieve.
But for some, the days of anticipated relaxation and leisure quickly seem to evaporate, instead filled with numerous surprising issues and unexpected dynamics affecting not only yourself, but your family as well.
This new and abundant wealth is not quite serving you as anticipated – but why?
Mike Alves is the Founder and Managing Director of Vida Private Wealth, in Pasadena, California. “Wealth alone does not necessarily equate to achieving happiness,” he advises, “and it is important to understand how it impacts and influences an individual’s world.”
As a Certified Financial Planner™ and also currently pursuing his Masters Degree in Advanced Financial Planning, he notes “The accumulation of wealth goes hand-in-hand with increasing complexity… and all too often, financial advice focuses narrowly on investing and security and ignores the bigger picture.”
Vida Private Wealth is a leading independent financial services firm offering combined multi-family office, asset management and financial life-planning services to high-net-worth individuals and families.
“We align our clients’ wealth with their core values,” states Alves, “to better live a more purposeful, meaningful and happy life… and we are dedicated to finding the best possible solution for each client.”
Merging Wealth and Values
The first word in the company formed by Alves is VIDA, which translates as “life.”
“Because money is not an end in itself, but only a part of your whole life,” Alves observes, “we believe that connecting your financial goals with the rest of your life is extremely important… and it is often overlooked.”
Alves is among a growing number of financial advisors that subscribe to creating an “alignment” between wealth and life values – a concept than began to emerge just a few decades ago – that brings powerful understanding and awareness into the mix.
He notes that there are actually two distinct kinds of wealth – with each bringing specific pressures to bear – that are generally governed by attitudes that the experts call money “scripts” or preconceived behaviors.
One is “new wealth,” which is both potentially volatile and challenging. “We’ve all heard tales of the lottery winner who squandered their entire windfall in a very short period of time,” notes Alves, “or the superstar athlete, with a multi-million dollar contract, that went bankrupt by quickly amassing everything from exotic cars and high-end watches to a luxury mansion and entertaining family and friends.”
Sports Illustrated reports that “78% of National Football League (NFL) players are either bankrupt or under financial stress within two-years of retirement and 60% of all National Basketball Association (NBA) players go bankrupt within five years after leaving their sport.” Additional statistics state that one-third of all lottery winners eventually declare bankruptcy.
“Others that experience rapid new wealth could, for instance, be the lifelong owner of a successful business, that sold for a substantial sum – well into the tens of millions or more – that now must factor immense wealth into their daily life and the lives of their family,” he adds.
“Some of our clients come to us for help,” notes Alves, “because they start experiencing signs of stress and even depression relating to their wealth.”
This is where understanding one’s preconceived attitudes toward money come into play. Those who grew up poor will treat new-found wealth differently from those who have spent a lifetime building a successful business.
“Regardless of how one achieved their windfall,” states Alves, “understanding and factoring in one’s perceived ‘money script’ is an important aspect and first step in balancing and aligning their new-found wealth with their life values.”
Old Money Has Problems Too
The other end of the spectrum is the “affluent family” with established wealth spanning two or more generations. “Based on my experience, historically, substantial assets and wealth are often lost by the third generation,” observes Alves, “which is another challenge that we work to counter.”
Here, the “money script” is less the thrill of abundant new funds and more so is that it has simply always been there. The hard work and legacy of the grandfather became less of a focus when passed down to the father and still less focused in the generations that followed.
At a certain point, lack of attention to the core family business and participation in continuing the legacy lead to losing direction and, in turn, losing the family fortunes.
“This is where Vida Private Wealth comes in,” states Alves. “In addition to providing traditional financial advice, in both instances… for those with new wealth and long-term affluent families alike, we work closely with all concerned to help ensure that they better understand their relationship with money… and its relationship with their life and ultimately the art of making value-based decisions.”
Simply put, Alves and Vida Private Wealth help clients to better view one’s life and wealth – and better understand which controls which – and then works with them to create a beneficial balance that aligns their life values with financial awareness.
Alves asks a simple, yet profound, question: “Does wealth control your life… or does your life and values control your wealth?” The answer and realization is where Vida Private Wealth begins.
The client list served by Alves and company is both select and limited. “We generally serve families and individuals with a minimum of $10 million net worth,” states Alves, “and new clients come to us either through CPA’s and attorneys or by referrals from past or on-going relationships.”
While it seems having abundant wealth would solve a lot of problems, in reality, the accumulation of wealth – whether new and rapid or slow and spread over generations – goes hand in hand with increasing complexity.
This is where Vida Private Wealth’s careful analysis of one’s life “money scripts” and preconceived attitudes can help determine a wide variety of emerging disorders – any number of potentially destructive uses, such as compulsive gambling – replacing them instead with understanding and sound advice as partners to help clients live a more purposeful and meaningful life through value-based decisions.
While the phrase “Money doesn’t make you happy” is a generally accepted popular adage, research shows that how you spend it – and incorporate it into your life – just might.
“We help simplify this increased complexity by not only helping to better manage our high-net-worth client’s finances,” says Alves, “but also by being fully involved. We coordinate overall financial affairs and collaborate with various advisors – such as CPAs, attorneys, insurance agents, accountants and real estate brokers – serving as a liaison for the entire team.”
“In doing so, we make sure everyone involved understands where they fit into a client’s individualized financial life plan,” Alves notes, “and that they are working together to help them live their purpose and a meaningful life.”
Financial Life Planning
This new approach of analyzing life values and goals – and combining them with sound financial strategies to better experience purposeful and meaningful lives – began taking hold in the early 2000s and it is rapidly gaining in acceptance and popularity.
“We are passionate in our mission to help clients achieve and sustain financial freedom and to live balanced and happy lifestyles,” states Alves. “We do not focus solely on a client’s investment returns… we incorporate their personal values and the importance of making value-based decisions as well to strengthen and enhance their overall wealth management strategies.”
“The end result is actually a new beginning,” he adds, “by ensuring our clients are controlling their wealth – rather than the other way around – they get every possible day-to-day enjoyment and benefit to be gained by wealth, while staying mindful of the need to leave a sound legacy for future generations.”
Securities and Advisory services offered through Cantella & Co., Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.