Five valuable money lessons we can learn from Succession 


Succession, currently running its 4th season on the Foxtel network Binge, is a brilliant portrayal of the complex dynamics of a wealthy and powerful family as they navigate their media empire. The show also imparts valuable lessons about money and wealth management.
Image: David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO.

As a trusted advisor to some of Australia’s wealthiest families I can see the similarities in the challenges faced by each of the Roy family members when it comes to navigating wealth and the complexity money brings to their relationships. Let’s explore 5 of the essential money lessons that we can learn from the Roy family:  

1. Money does not guarantee happiness and can buy you misery

Succession reminds us that money alone does not bring happiness or fulfillment. Despite their vast wealth, the characters in the show often grapple with personal and emotional challenges. The pursuit of wealth is best balanced with the pursuit of personal growth, relationships, and experiences that truly enrich our lives. It serves as a reminder that true wealth is measured in more than just monetary terms. 

2. Succession planning is crucial 

The show’s title itself suggests the importance of succession planning and arguably it fails miserably. The show underscores the significance of having a well-thought-out plan to ensure the smooth transition of wealth and power from one generation to the next. While most of us may not have multimillion-dollar empires to pass on, the lesson of careful estate planning and setting clear expectations for the future is applicable to anyone. It emphasizes the need to prepare for the unexpected and ensure our hard-earned assets are protected and distributed according to our wishes. Despite Logan Roy’s vast team of “advisors” and his personal drive to run the show, spoiler alert…his hand scribbled notes regarding the leadership succession of the empire (should he die) were illegible scribble easily misconstrued by both the family and advisors. 

3. Diversification mitigates risk 

The Roy family’s empire is primarily built around a single industry being media. However, the show demonstrates the dangers of overreliance on one sector. Throughout the series, the characters face numerous obstacles that threaten their business and financial stability. Diversifying investments across various industries and asset classes is a fundamental principle for managing risk and safeguarding wealth. By spreading investments across different sectors, individuals can reduce the impact of market volatility and increase the likelihood of long-term financial success. 

4. Transparency fosters trust 

One recurring and overwhelming theme on the show is the lack of transparency within the family and their business operations. Secrets, hidden agendas, and trust issues often create conflicts and complications. Similarly, in our personal finances, transparency plays a vital role. Open communication about financial matters with partners, family members, and even professional advisors is crucial for building trust and making informed decisions. By fostering an environment of transparency, we can all work together towards shared financial goals and avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.  

5. Money is a tool, not an end in itself 

Succession powerfully illustrates that money should be seen as a tool to achieve one’s goals rather than an end in itself. The characters’ relentless pursuit of power and wealth often leads to strained relationships, personal sacrifices, and significant moral compromises. It serves as a reminder to evaluate our own relationship with money. By understanding our values, setting meaningful financial goals, and aligning our wealth with our personal aspirations, we can lead more fulfilling lives. Money should be utilized to create opportunities, support causes we believe in, and foster personal growth, rather than being an all-consuming obsession. 

Beyond the fascinating characters, the show offers valuable insights into money and wealth management. I’d suggest watching the show may teach you more about what NOT to do when it comes to money and succession, but viewers can glean essential money lessons applicable to their own lives. Understanding that wealth does not guarantee happiness, recognising the importance of succession planning, embracing diversification, fostering transparency, and viewing money as a tool rather than an end in itself can guide us towards financial well-being and a more balanced approach to life. Let it serve as a catalyst for financial introspection and inspire us to communicate with our family about money and make sound decisions that align our wealth with our personal values and aspirations. 

Jacqui Clarke FCA, FTI, GAICD, JP, author of Stop Worrying About Money , is a trusted advisor, board member, executor and veteran business executive. As a personal wealth and money management expert and over three decades of experience, 25 years at Deloitte and PWC helping high-net-worth families, individuals and business owners to build, manage and preserve their wealth. Her message is simple: with careful planning and effort, you can manage your money, so it doesn’t manage you. 

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