Make the right pick: How your choices now can affect three generations to come

Make the right pick: How your choices now can affect three generations to come

Chia-Li Chien | June 04, 2015

“When a man chooses the right wife, it can affect three generations of his life!” goes an age-old Chinese saying. (The three generations are: his parents, his own life and his children’s lives.)

Recent research sheds light on why this proverb continues to prove true. Although the study was not about mate selection, it revealed that having the right mate can ultimately lead to a more desirable outcome in retirement wealth and life. In research by D. W Eccles, P. Ward, E. Goldsmith, & G. Arsal1 in a 2013 paper, it was found that having the right retirement saving behaviors resulted in almost three times more wealth compared to those who do not possess the desired behaviors. (It is also worthwhile to note what this group does well so that others can replicate and benefit from adopting the same.)

First, the research focused on a group of couples married more than 10 years, between the ages of 51 and 61. They had one or more children, and stayed healthy with no major medical expenses. They did not have any prior bankruptcy records and read their social security statements annually.

Eccles’ research group found that this group of couples had a propensity toward self-learning. For example the husband tends to learn from reading magazines or newspapers to improve financial knowledge.

The wives tended to learn from communication with their husband about financial decisions and knowledge. Wives also often rely on an employer’s education program to enhance financial knowledge.

One major gender difference in financial behavior showed that husbands tend to forecast their retirement goals and save on a regular basis toward those goals. Wives, however, tend to “live within their means,” paying their bills and credit cards on time, with little or no debt.

In late 2014, Inc. Magazine contributing editor Jeff Haden2 wrote an article on how successful careers tend to correlate with the right spouse. He argues this is due to the couple acting as a team, which tends to provide a stable family environment and give each the opportunity to focus on a career.

In today’s environment, if there is an extension of Dr. Eccles’ study, let’s assume that “husband” means the person taking the dominant financial role and “wife” is the follower. The dominant financial role will focus on setting a forecast or a clear retirement goal to work toward. The follower’s role is to make sure they live within their means and stay focused on reaching those forecast goals.

If we further extend this concept to your business, who would you say plays the dominant financial role? You might be the owner of the company, but you might have someone who helps you set that financial forecast target.

Your team members should be the followers in your company. They simply have to make sure they conserve and “live within your means” to stay focused on the goals. If you are in the dominant financial role for your company, do you have the right form of frequent communication with your followers (your team) to make sure everyone is on the same page?

  • Here are some healthy financial behaviors that I’ve noticed from my clients:
  • Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) “forecast” goals along with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Monitoring KPIs on a regular basis (minimum monthly)
  • Communicating weekly with the team and correcting the course if the KPIs are off-track from a pre-defined threshold
  • Continuous process improvement to meet or exceed customer needs

Whether or not you want to follow the age-old Chinese proverb about picking the right wife that will affect three generations, your business, too, goes through stages (like your personal life), such as start-up, growth, maturing, etc.

Just having the right financial behavior in your business or personal life is not enough. Forecasting your retirement goals or business equity value goals, when combined with the right financial behaviors from your team can help you stay on track. Ultimately this helps you create the business value you deserve!

We can help you make the right choices to help you get your business on the right track by using the right tools and forecasting. Schedule an appointment today!


1 ECCLES, D. W., WARD, P., GOLDSMITH, E., & ARSAL, G. (2013). The Relationship between Retirement Wealth and Householders’ Lifetime Personal Financial and Investing Behaviors. Journal Of Consumer Affairs, 47(3), 432-464. doi:10.1111/joca.12022

2 Haden, J. (2014, December 24). Want to Be a Lot More Successful? Marry the Right Person. Retrieved May 25, 2015, from

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