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By Lizzie Hill, Partner, Deloitte
Family businesses are different, and their differences from other forms of enterprise, particularly around the issue of governance, need to be understood and accommodated, especially by chairs. Typically there is a much greater degree of emotion at play in a family enterprise and that emotion is, almost by definition, closer to the surface. While directors of PLCs and private equity houses are often dispassionate, family members feel an attachment to the business that runs deep, and this attachment extends across place, brand, product and purpose.
By Rudolf Janssen, Director, Deloitte Netherlands
The outcome of many a process within Family Enterprise Consulting is a written document, be it an agreement, a pre-nup, a last will, a family charter or constitution. Almost never such a document is a stand-alone item. Almost all family and family enterprise related documentation is not only inter-related but also very influenced by the context at the moment of drafting the wording of it. Just like the value of real estate is often a question of 'location, location, location', the real added value of legal documentation, specifically in the private domain, will be determined by its context and the fact that this context is explicitly incorporated in it. It’s all about the context? Yes it is. Let us share a few examples with you.
Sustainability is a business theme that, while being universally accepted as a good thing, has come to have a variety of meanings. From sourcing, environmental impact limitation and working towards the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) to simply ‘continuing to do what you do’, sustainability has become a starting gun and a benchmark for discussions about the future of a business.
But for family businesses, sustainability has an extra level of meaning – and importance. Not only is it about ensuring the business is in a position to continue successfully, it is also about addressing the inevitable pressures and tensions that come with generational change and succession.
Whilst the news cycle in the UK might have been periodically dominated by sunshine and sport over the early summer, the complexity of world relations, the economy and the use of personal data have never been far from the headlines. The scale of data and the technology available to interrogate it is driving many new ways of working and that is equally true in the world of taxation.
Families are usually a complex mix of individuals with different abilities, attitudes, aspirations and financial needs. Each family member is likely to want different things, and in the context of a family owned business, this can produce tension and discord.
This week Niall Glynn, a partner with Deloitte in Ireland, considers the challenges of encouraging engagement in multi-generational family businesses as the family expands.
I was recently at a client meeting where we were discussing the future evolution of Board membership across the second and third generations of a family business. Over the course of the meeting, it became apparent how little the third generation (the future directors) really knew each other, or had much of a connection with the business. The only shared memories they had revolved around distant interactions as children, and more recent ad-hoc interactions at family weddings as adults.
Practical steps now to support a strategic approach
It’s a familiar warning: the exponential growth of digital technologies is exposing us all to more and new kinds of risk and we all need to ensure that we protect our assets and reputation from attack.
Many family businesses wrestle with matters of ownership and control – how should the family shareholders control, or influence the running of the business? How do you manage relationships between family members in the context of the business? How can family members ensure appropriate access to information on the business without “interfering” with day to day management?
This week, Michelle Osry, a partner in Deloitte in Canada, suggests two books to add to your holiday reading list, and a TED talk for further inspiration.
What can family enterprises learn from the Dalai Lama? Can conflict be reduced to an equation? How can we find lasting joy in this world?
The digital age
With Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, text, email and smartphones, it seems it’s never been easier to stay in touch. But despite this, finding the time to talk face-to-face and really build relationships has rarely seemed so difficult. It’s a cliché, but for good reason: we spend so much time talking in the modern world that it can be hard to hear what’s actually being said.
This week, Rudolf Janssen, a Director with Deloitte in the Netherlands, and Hugh Pickering, a Consultant with Deloitte in the UK, talk about the value of stepping back with families to reflect on the process of planning for generational transition.
Discovery, alignment, transformation
When family enterprises undergo successful and sustainable change during times of generational transition, we find that there are three important phases that they must go through, which we refer to as: discovery, alignment and transformation.