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It has been a busy quarter for us at Northwood Family Office and for the wider world in general. France elected Emmanuel Macron, Britain was wracked by three terrorist attacks in the space of ten weeks, the UK Conservatives lost their majority, the US pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord and the Comey-Trump ‘he said – he said’ show accelerated. Closer to home, Andrew Scheer was elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada as the country begins to prepare for its 150th birthday in July.

At Northwood, we have been diligently working, as always, to manage the financial and personal affairs of our client families. In this work, we find ourselves doing a substantial amount of reading on a wide variety of topics. This includes quarterly investment letters, political think pieces, global trends and, of course, topics in family wealth management.

In light of that, I thought I would share a small selection of interesting articles, news items, and white papers that we have read (or re-read) in the last quarter. The list below covers everything from how the wealthy talk to their children about money to America’s current record weight in global stock market indices. It includes some new articles and some classics. The common themes are that they are interesting, insightful and of significance for us, and hopefully for you too.


America’s Disproportionate Weight in Global Stock Market Indices

America’s weighting in the MSCI All-World Country Index currently matches its 2002 record of 54%. The Buttonwood column in The Economist explores why this is and why it could be a problem.


You’re Too Busy. You Need a ‘Shultz Hour’

George Shultz spent seven years of the 1980s serving as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State. This article describes how Shultz always dedicated one hour per week to quiet reflection and thinking despite the demands of his job.


The Biggest Trends in Family Wealth

Family wealth is an evolving industry and this article highlights the trends that are shaping that evolution. Increasing complexity, security and risk mitigation, and the rise of the millennial generation are all covered.


How the Wealthy Talk to Their Children about Money

How the wealthy talk to their children about money can influence how prepared those children are to inherit wealth as adults. This recent New York Times piece talks to a few families of wealth about how they have handled these conversations.


Family Flourishing: Giving Voice to Silent Generations

The importance of educating the ‘next generation’ in families of wealth is well known, but most articles on the topic are aimed at first generation parents and conform to their ideas. This paper by Wise Counsel Research Associates comes at the topic from the perspective of the 2nd (or 3rd) generation and seeks to help them develop their voices.


The New, Subtle Ways the Rich Signal Their Wealth

In a time when the middle class can afford luxury handbags and international cruises, how do the wealthy signal their wealth? This BBC article argues it is increasingly through ‘inconspicuous consumption’. This includes everything from spending on their children’s education to purchasing healthy and organic foods.


Task Force Report on Sustainable Investment Taxonomy

Sustainable investing is gaining more attention as the investing community becomes increasingly aware of the financial and ecological benefits of it. This report from September 2016 seeks to define what ‘Sustainable Investing’ is and where it could be going.


What in the World is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017?

The rise of e-commerce, the over-supply of malls, and an unexpected surge in restaurant spending have all contributed to the dismal retail landscape of 2017. This piece in the Atlantic dives into how each one of these factors has led to bankruptcies and underperformance in the retail sector.


The Death of Expertise as a Decline of Trust

An enlightening interview with Tom Nichols, author of the new book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters.


Donald Trump is stuck in the 1980s

Of all the think pieces that have been written about what makes Donald Trump tick, I found this to be one of the more interesting ones. The theory — Trump’s worldview is stuck in the mid-1980s, because he has spent the years since then living in a bubble of his own creation.


As a lifelong learner, I am always interested in reading material that broadens my horizons, challenges my thinking and provides all-important context for the decisions we make. As a result, I’d also be interested in hearing what you’ve been reading lately. If you’ve come across any particularly insightful articles, please feel free to send them to me at


Tom McCullough

Tom McCullough is Chairman and CEO of Northwood Family Office, which looks after the investments and integrated financial affairs of wealthy families with $10 million or more. He teaches ‘The Management of Private Wealth’ in the MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and is also co-author of the books, Family Wealth Management and Wealth of Wisdom: The Top 50 Questions Wealthy Families Ask.

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