Fostering Effective Decision Making & Communication Around Wealth

A Conversation with Hal Hershfield


In this video, Valerie Galinskaya, Managing Director and Head of the Merrill Center for Family Wealth™ engages in a lively discussion with Hal Hershfield, Professor of Marketing and Behavioral Decision Making at the UCLA Anderson School of Management as well as the author of the recently published book, Your Future Self – How to Make Tomorrow Better Today

Fostering effective decision making — and the family conversations (particularly across generations) that underpin the effort — is rarely simple. But it’s an undertaking that offers enormous potential to positively influence the lives of wealthy individuals and their families.

“Burying your head in the sand and ignoring the future isn’t going to alleviate your concerns or make issues or problems disappear,” explains Hershfield. He equates this to the process of planning a trip in order to highlight the three most common mistakes people make:

  • Missing your flight — getting so overly anchored to the present you lose track of time and either procrastinate or forget to make a plan for the future.
  • Poor trip planning — making a plan for the future, but only doing so superficially; not following through with detail or focusing very narrowly on just a single area.
  • Packing the wrong clothes — projecting present day feelings and emotions onto your future self; failing to realize that your circumstances will change over time and so too will your family’s needs and goals so you need to build flexibility into your plan.

The two then discuss a handful of best practices that can help families start to clarify the future, including defining the purpose of your wealth, being clear on who’s making what decisions, and committing to continual learning and building financial skills.

Hershfield’s unique area of research and expertise sits at the intersection of psychology and economics, examining the ways we can improve our long-term decisions. He earned his PhD in Psychology from Stanford University, has published in top academic journals, and regularly contributes op-eds to the New York Times, Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal. The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Hal was named one of “The 40 Most Outstanding B-School Profs Under 40 In The World” by business education website Poets & Quants (March 26, 2017).1

The Merrill Center for Family Wealth™ helps empower families to define the purpose of their wealth and to be intentional about wealth’s impact on them, their families and their communities. It applies insights from research and experience working with a multitude of significant families. Fostering effective decision making and communication is a dynamic process; one that can truly lead to greater well-being today and in the future. Reach out to your Merrill Private Wealth Advisor who can draw on the expertise of the Merrill Center for Family Wealth to help bring a longer-term perspective to your planning.

A private wealth advisor can help you get started.

Our advisors can help you follow your passions, build a legacy and have a positive impact on others.

1 Source: Poets&Quants | 2017 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Hal Hershfield, UCLA (Anderson), March 26, 2017.

Hal Hershfield is not affiliated with Bank of America Corporation.

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