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Personal Finance Lessons from HBO's "Succession"

Personal Finance Lessons from Succession
Personal Finance Lessons from Succession

HBO's critically acclaimed series "Succession" serves as a satirical exploration into the lives of the ultra-rich. While undeniably providing an entertaining narrative, the series also dives into complex personal finance themes that many of us grapple with in our lives. Here, we examine some of these themes, extracting lessons and providing a unique angle to think about personal finance.

Many of us have watched Succession for the entertainment value, but there are many personal finance lessons from Succession and The Roy Family that we all can learn, below are just a few.

Your Inheritance
Your Inheritance

Inheritance and Wealth Management

The struggle among the Roy family for patriarch Logan Roy's considerable inheritance exposes the complexities of managing substantial wealth. One standout scene from the first season encapsulates Logan's perspective on inheritance. As he faces his children about the future of Waystar RoyCo, he firmly states, "I'm not going to leave you anything unless you earn it. You have to show me that you're capable of running this company."

Logan's standpoint, though controversial, triggers a broader debate about inheritance and wealth. It brings into question the entitlement often associated with inheritance, championing the cause of merit and accountability. This principle, while portrayed on the stage of a multi-billion dollar legacy, applies universally to situations of wealth transfer and management.

Navigating inheritance can be a complex process, often mired in emotions and, at times, conflicting interests. Here are some best practices to consider:

Clear Communication: Much like Logan Roy's frank conversation, open discussions about inheritance plans can prevent future disputes. Although these conversations can be uncomfortable, they are essential to ensure that all parties have clear expectations.

Fairness does not Always Mean Equality: Unlike Logan's approach of making his children earn their inheritance, many parents opt for equal distribution. However, equality isn't always fair. For example, if one child has been working in the family business while others pursued different paths, a case could be made for a larger share of the business being given to the involved child. This approach demands careful consideration and, often, professional guidance to navigate.

Consider the Beneficiary's Financial Savviness: Much like Logan's insistence that his heirs demonstrate their capacity to run the company, one should consider the financial maturity of the heirs. If an heir is not financially savvy, measures should be taken to ensure they receive the guidance they need to manage their inheritance responsibly.

Professional Guidance: Inheritance planning and wealth management are complex areas that can benefit from professional expertise. Financial planners, estate attorneys, and tax professionals can provide valuable advice to ensure that wealth is transferred effectively and that all tax implications are considered.

Wealth Management and Diversification: Once inherited, it's crucial to manage wealth wisely. One key strategy is diversification - spreading investments across different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, to minimize risk.

"Succession" provides a captivating yet disconcerting view of inheritance and wealth management in the ultra-rich realm. However, the show's narratives and the principles gleaned from them have broader applications. As viewers, we can draw lessons to better navigate our own financial journeys, inheritance or otherwise, ensuring the wise management of wealth for current and future generations.

Wealth Inequality and Social Responsibility

"Succession" starkly portrays wealth inequality. The Roys are incredibly affluent, in stark contrast to the vast majority of the world's population. This glaring disparity challenges viewers to question the fairness of the current economic system. It also raises the topic of wealth responsibility – how can those with such resources contribute to addressing wealth inequality?

Taxes and Fairness

Taxes and Fairness

Tax obligations form a significant aspect of The Roys' narrative in "Succession." Their encounters with substantial tax responsibilities offer a basis for discussions about the fairness of tax systems and the tactics used by the wealthy to minimize their tax burden.

Navigating taxes, especially for substantial estates or inheritances like the Roys', can be complicated. Here are some insights and best practices to help manage taxes effectively and fairly:

Understanding Tax Laws: Knowledge is the first step towards effective tax management. Tax laws vary greatly by region and understanding the regulations in your area is crucial. This includes not only income tax but also capital gains tax, estate tax, and inheritance tax.

Estate Planning: Estate planning can help to minimize the potential tax burden on heirs. This might involve setting up trusts, life insurance policies, or charitable contributions, all of which can have significant tax implications.

Utilizing Tax Credits and Deductions: There are numerous tax credits and deductions available that can reduce the amount of tax owed. For example, in some regions, there is a specific threshold for estate taxes, under which no taxes are owed. Understanding and utilizing these credits and deductions can help to reduce the tax burden.

Professional Advice: Given the complexities of tax law and the significant financial implications, it's often beneficial to seek advice from tax professionals or financial advisors. They can provide guidance tailored to individual circumstances and help to develop effective tax strategies.

The Balance of Fairness: One of the major themes in "Succession" is the tension between maintaining wealth and fulfilling social obligations. While it's natural to seek ways to reduce tax burdens, it's also important to consider the broader societal impacts of taxation, including funding public services and infrastructure.

Philanthropy: Donating to a charity or setting up a charitable foundation can also be an effective way to manage taxes. Not only do these actions often provide tax benefits, but they also allow wealth to be used for social good.

In "Succession," the Roys' approach to taxes may seem far removed from everyday life. However, the principles behind their strategies - understanding tax laws, planning ahead, seeking professional advice, and balancing self-interest with social responsibility - are relevant to everyone. By navigating our own tax obligations wisely, we can ensure financial stability while also contributing to the societal structures that support us.

Investing and Risk Management
Investing and Risk Management

Investing and Risk Management

The Roys' vast wealth is always on the move, strategically invested in an assortment of assets such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. Their financial maneuvers provide a front-row view of investment strategies and risk management, fundamental concepts in personal finance. Here are some ways you can navigate these areas:

Diversification: The Roys' diverse portfolio mirrors a key principle of investing: diversification. Spreading investments across different assets classes can help minimize risk. For most individuals, this could mean investing in a mix of stocks, bonds, and possibly real estate or other alternative investments.

Long-Term Investing: Investments often need time to grow and recover from market volatility. The Roys' long-term investments in their media conglomerate and other assets underscore this. Patience can be an essential virtue in the world of investing.

Regular Review and Adjustment: Market conditions and personal financial situations can change rapidly, so regular reviews of your investment portfolio are necessary. If one type of investment performs exceptionally well or poorly, rebalancing may be needed to maintain the desired level of risk and potential return.

Professional Advice: Engaging with financial advisors or investment professionals can provide tailored guidance. They can assist in developing an investment strategy that suits your risk tolerance and financial goals, much like the professionals the Roys would engage for their complicated financial maneuvers.

Philanthropy and Influence
Philanthropy and Influence

Philanthropy and Influence

"Succession" brings into focus the intersection of philanthropy and influence. While the Roys donate to charities, they also use their wealth to influence the political sphere. This interplay triggers questions about the role of philanthropy in society and the ethical implications of using wealth for personal gain. Here are some considerations in this sphere:

Philanthropy as a Financial Strategy: Donations to charitable organizations often come with tax benefits. This means individuals, like the Roys, can align their financial strategies with contributing to causes they care about.

Ethics of Influence: "Succession" demonstrates the power of wealth to sway political outcomes. While it's natural for individuals to advocate for policies that align with their interests, it's important to consider the broader societal impacts of such influence.

Transparency in Philanthropy: Ethical philanthropy involves transparency. Donors should be clear about their intentions and the impact of their donations. This accountability can ensure that philanthropy serves its purpose of benefiting society, rather than just benefiting the donor.

Impact Investing: One way to use wealth for positive societal impact is through impact investing. This involves investing in companies or funds designed to generate a social or environmental impact alongside a financial return.

The intertwined themes of investing, risk management, and philanthropy in "Succession" reveal the complexities of managing wealth. The strategies the Roys employ - diversification, long-term investing, professional advice, and strategic philanthropy - can inform personal finance decisions. By navigating these areas thoughtfully, we can grow and manage our wealth while also using it for societal good.


While "Succession" paints a dramatic picture of the ultra-rich, its themes extend to everyday personal finance. Through its depiction of inheritance management, wealth inequality, tax issues, investment strategies, and philanthropy, it offers valuable perspectives for viewers to consider in their financial journeys. As we enjoy the dramatic twists of the Roy family's life, we can also take away lessons on managing our finances effectively and ethically. Happy viewing, and happier financial planning!

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