One day in 2017, three Belgian friends, joined at the hip since their time at university, sat down with members of 120 wealthy families in Brussels.
There was no agenda to speak of. The only hunch shared by the three organizers, Guillaume Desclée, Guillaume de Monie and Gaëtane Meurant, was that those invited to the hired office space that day – a mix of old friends, friends of friends and strangers drawn to the meeting by word of mouth – felt disengaged from the process of wealth management.
The money in their pockets might be theirs, but they no longer knew much about it: what happened to it out there in the world, how it was managed, why and by whom.
“Simply and naïvely, we asked them: ‘Guys, you’re lucky, but honestly how do you really feel about how your money is managed?’” says Desclée. “And most of them said: ‘OK, the first problem is we don’t understand our wealth anymore. Our family structure is complex. The money is international, diversified and we don’t have a global understanding of it. And it is our duty to understand it.”