They kill pedestrians from behind the wheels of luxury cars, they deride the poor, they shamelessly flaunt their wealth*, and they inherit millions of RMB from their parents. Yet while members of China's wealthy second generation, or China's Rich 2G, enjoys their inexhaustible bank accounts, they are also expected to one day take over the reigns of the companies their parents led to success.
But a study recently conducted by the Sichuan Hongdao Business and Management School (四川弘道经理学院) shows that 80 percent of the 150 wealthy individuals surveyed question their offspring's capability to manage their assets. These members of the "Rich First Generation" have each amassed fortunes in excess 10 million yuan.
In order to address this issue, enterprising universities and private training centers have started offering courses for children of the wealth, as China Daily explained:
With the Chinese obsessed with the idea of passing their wealth and property on to their children, and with so many millionaires and entrepreneurs now reaching retirement age ... training courses to prepare the next generation for leadership roles are more popular than ever.
[Such courses seek] to promote the trainees' noble characters and comprehensive qualities so they could successfully take over their parents' companies and survive in the increasingly fierce market.
Unlike their parents, who went from rags to riches during China's early stages of "opening up", Rich 2G members are often criticized for inheriting huge assets from their parents and are being labeled as a generation with less responsibility and an inclination to indulge in pleasure-seeking.
The courses aimed at getting them ready for the responsibilities ahead are distinguished by their high tuition fees that typically run to tens of thousands of yuan.
Since the first of its kind appeared in Ningbo, Zhejiang, in 2007, most courses have been offered in China's coastal regions, where the bulk of the country's wealth is concentrated.
But the programs are now cropping up in inland and "second-tier" cities as well. In Sichuan, the first "Rich 2G training program" begins this fall at the Hongdao Business and Management School. Tuition for the course is RMB39,000, and over 30 students, ranging in ages from 18 to 34, have already applied.
Li, the person in charge of the Sichuan Hongdao program, is optimistic about enrollment. "According to our research, 10 to 20 thousand privately owned companies in Sichuan are worth over RMB5 million," said Li. "At least 5,000 heirs of these firms need to be trained now."
Wang, the owner of a firm in Chengdu's Gaoxin District, said that he would like to hand his enterprise over to his son. To prepare his son Wang sent him abroad to study for years, but now he finds difficulty in adapting to Chinese business environment.
"He tried several positions in my company but is still a business rookie," said Wang. "I'm very worried."
Whether the children of these entrepreneurs wants to follow in their parents' footsteps is another question altogether.
While 90 percent of the Rich First Generation surveyed hope their offspring will receive a systematic education in business finance, public relations, law and crisis management, less than a quarter of the younger generation is majoring in business management. And only half said that they were keen to take over their parents' firms.
Qian Keyin just graduated from Southwestern University of Finance and Economics with a degree in accounting. She is uncertain whether to take over her father's textile company or start her own firm as her sister did. Although Qian worked as an assistant in the company for a while, she still finds many aspects of the business "confusing."
The program begins on September 18. In the first class, Rich 2G are accompanied by their parents, and the two generations are encouraged to share ideas.
"Currently there are at least ten educational institutes offering programs like this," said Li. "As private enterprises are becoming ever stronger, more courses tailored for Rich 2G will be offered."
Many higher-education institutes across the country, including some of the nation's most prestigious universities—Tsinghua and Beijing Universities, for instance—are also offering similar courses.
The Evergreen Family Wealth School for Heirs of Private Enterprises (家业长青民营企业接班人专修学校) in Ningbo, offers tracks such as Family Management and Business Administration (FMBA), Future Business Leader (FBL), etc.
Shanghai Jiaotong University's three-year program for Rich 2G offers classes four days per month, and costs over RMB100,000. Students can visit the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the University of Cambridge during their course.
Another program in Wuxi, Jiangsu, costs RMB668,000. During the three-month course, students take classes in horseback-riding, golf, fashion, and ballroom dance.
Li Fahai, president of Goodidea Management Education Group, estimates that the market for Rich 2G is worth RMB10 billion and that the market for such courses will be saturated in 10 to 15 years.
*The captions of the photos read, respectively "I'm posting this not to show off but to tell the poor people that they better not mess with this girl" and "This is the private jet my daddy and mommy took with me to go shopping in Hong Kong. This girl has never ridden in economy class!" [Ed. note: Of course, these photos beg the question of why, with all that money, this girl doesn't buy a better camera and perhaps a photography lesson or two.]
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