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‘Bonus’ wealth from family business

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A ‘family business’ is more than just a business owned and operated by a family. In addition to being a vehicle of wealth creation and entrepreneurship for the family, these businesses can bring other non-financial benefits – known as “socioemotional wealth” or “social capital” – to family members. Being part of the family enterprises brings feelings of pride, personal reward and satisfaction, and can constitute a part of family members’ identity. These additional intangibles are…

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The e-word

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The e-word – “entitlement” – comes up in almost every presentation or lecture I give, and in many family discussions. It has become almost a dirty word when it comes to family wealth – something to be avoided at all cost. “How can I prevent my children from becoming entitled?” is what most every parent wants to know. When it comes to family business, limiting the negative impact of entitlement can be achieved by instilling…

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‘Retire, bitch’

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While I abhor the “generation wars” narrative that pops up regularly, the article below is about a novel – Boomer1 by Daniel Torday – that captures this generation wars zeitgeist, and tells the story of a frustrated millenial who takes his fight to the internet, complaining about boomers who refuse to retire and make jobs available to those of his generation. The article makes some great points about this ongoing debate, and postulates as to…

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Family vs Business

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Family businesses have to tread a fine line: they must compete like any business, while also maintaining harmony amongst the family – both those who are involved in the family business and those who are not. Can you have the best of both worlds? There are a few common themes that help families maintain this balance: 1. Trust is essential, and what builds trust are good communication and transparency. Anywhere information is not provided, people…

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Family business ‘value’ and externals

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While the family business may be delivering good returns, how much is it actually worth? Often, family members are disappointed that the market value does not reflect a large enough multiple, because they are unable to look at the business as an outsider (and potential buyer) would. The first article has some classic ‘value drivers’ expressed in terms of growth and risk reduction. What I think this is missing from this model is the most…

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But I don’t want to take over!

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A common challenge for family businesses is when the rising generation have no interest in taking over. This can be especially common in sectors like manufacturing or farming which may be considered an attractive or exciting career path for younger family members to join. There are two concerns for the family members currently in control: (a) who will look after the business? (b) who will look after the customers? Both of these are important, because…

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The Most Valuable Thing to Your Children

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As a wealthy family, what is the most valuable thing you can give your children? One sure way to find out the answer is to ask (too often parents don’t bother). According to a Wells-Fargo survey of Millennials, more than 90% of children say they want to inherit their parents’ values, not their wealth. Some 84% want top sustain and build on their family’s legacy. This should be very heartening news for parents. In a…

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Family Business or Business Family?

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According to Camden Research’s recent report, succession is a greater priority for families than wealth preservation. Of the two, succession is surely the harder to achieve. While we all push cliches and statistics about the survival of family businesses over three generations, perhaps we should be broadening our perspective? A family operating business is one store of wealth for a family, and one which is capable of employing multiple family members. Another phrase currently doing…

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The Next Generation of Givers

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Philanthropy can be a great way to engage different generations in a wealthy family, and for family members to find purpose where there is no imperative for paid employment. It’s worth keeping in mind the intergenerational differences and trends in giving so that the family giving experience can be as positive as possible. The Blackbaud Institute’s report on the next generation of American giving has some useful insights. Giving priorities differ by generations, but health,…

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Conflict of Interest

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The essential problem family businesses must deal with is conflict of interest, which arises when people have multiple roles – in the business, as an owner, and as a family member – that can potentially conflict. Thinking about the issues of a family business in this way is a good path to mitigating the challenges they can bring. Establishing explicit rules is a good start, and this article covers several good ones: only put family…

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