Family Governance & Succession Planning

Governance is often associated with large committees, long meetings, and restrictive procedures. While that might be appropriate in certain situations, Family Governance structures must be tailored and appropriate for a particular family’s circumstance and developed in harmony with their needs. Our advisors recognize that the needs of a first- or second-generation family enterprise are far different than those of a fifth generation, and that care must be given to meet the goals of the family into the future.

Family governance should develop a foundation of trust and build a long-term vision among family members. This structure will allow them to work together to make important decisions and reduce the potential for conflict and poor decision-making. This can create significant competitive advantages in family enterprise decisions.

Governance should help the family develop a purposeful vision and achieve long-term and short-term goals including value management, philanthropy, and succession planning. Goals should be discussed collaboratively within the family and with trusted mentors and advisors.

Family governance processes do not need to be overly complex or complicated. They should be as simple and streamlined as possible to support the family goals and meet the needs of family members.

Governance processes will tend to expand as future generations become involved with family matters because of the additional number of participants. These processes, as well as family leadership, need to be resilient to accommodate changes in family makeup in future years.

As the number of family participants grows, for example, as future generations become involved in family affairs, it might be appropriate to define a “family council” to provide representation and guidance yet maintain efficiency.

Importantly, family governance should be viewed as collaborative, especially as future generations become involved in the process.

A major objective of family governance is the development of the next generation so that they may participate in the family enterprise in the future. A critical time in the family enterprise is moving from a single controlling leader to a partnership of siblings. Careful consideration must be given to ensure the transmission of authority is seamless and maintains family goals. This includes instilling in family members at a young age appreciation for the unique opportunities they hold and appreciation of the family history. Personal development can be enhanced by clearly defined goals and experiences, along with a plan for how they will add progression in responsibility and compensation within the family enterprise.

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