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EFB-KPMG 2020 Global Tax Monitor

Thursday, 03 December 2020

In this challenging year, KPMG have explored the situation of taxation on family businesses in 54 countries and territories in order to offer an


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Family Business Management Programme 2020

Wednesday, 04 March 2020

The Family Business National Centre of Excellence is inviting business founders, next generation managers and those with an interest in learning how


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Growing a family business - LEO Enterprise Week BOI Workbench Centre Fri 6th March 8am

Wednesday, 04 March 2020

Phil Cone of Acadeny Crests Ltd and Michael Finn NSG Ltd will be interviewed by JJ O'Connell of Family Business Ireland to discuss their growth


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Small business fraud and the trusted employee Protecting against unique vulnerabilities
Monday, 04 July 2016 08:37

Small businesses have it rough. They're particularly vulnerable to fraud because they lack the resources to implement complete systems of internal controls and properly.



segregate accounting duties among their limited staffs. However, small businesses don't have to be rife with fraud. Here are some viable prevention options.



Bob and his brother, Bill, owners and operators of Acme Tractor for 30 years, were close to retirement. A local bank had continually financed Acme, which had an inventory of farm tractors worth millions of dollars. The owner's wives, Jane and Julie, shared accounting duties in the company. Jane would approve invoices. Julie would prepare the checks and either Bill or Bob would sign them. The receipt and payment cycle included a series of checks and balances with no one employee responsible for the entire cycle.



Jane and Julie retired from the business, and James, Bob's son, assumed the bookkeeping responsibilities. James, 30, had been working in various jobs at the business since high school. Now the brothers entrusted him with all aspects of bookkeeping for the business: accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and all account and bank reconciliations. They gave him check-signing ability and a business credit card.



Soon after becoming the bookkeeper, James married and began a family. As his personal monthly bills increased, he found it difficult to maintain the lifestyle he had known when he was single and living with his parents.



The fraud scheme began simply. At first, James began illegally using his business p-card (or purchasing card) for small personal expenses, such as gas for his personal vehicle and fast food meals. After several months, his charges for personal expenses increased in number and dollar amount, including charges for taking out his wife and children to fine restaurants, clothing for himself and his family, and even high-end electronic products. No one at Acme noticed the continual increase in charges for personal items because James controlled all payment checks to the credit card company.



James' fraudulent activities expanded. He began embezzling from the payroll system. Because he was a manager, he didn't have to use the time clock and began to pay himself for excessive overtime pay. He would give himself paychecks in lieu of not taking vacation time, even though he took all his vacation days. Acme management was still oblivious.



He then began writing checks payable to himself, but he would write a regular recurring vendor's name on each check stub and hand-key it into the computer system. When the bank statements came each month, James would alter the images of the checks on the statements to match the vendors on the check stubs and in the system. Then he would hide evidence of the fraudulent checks he had cashed by photocopying the altered pages of the bank statements and shredding the original statements.



Crafty James wasn't done yet. He opened a new personal credit card at the business' bank. Now it was easy for him to electronically make bank drafts for paying the business' monthly credit card statements and then write company checks to pay his personal card. If anyone reviewed the check stubs, it would only appear that one credit card invoice had been paid each month. James could charge the company's credit card for his personal expenses and charge additional purchases to this new credit card. He used company funds to pay off both cards. Sweet deal.



Some fraudsters rationalize their thefts as "temporary" loans they will repay later. James executed his frauds without any intention of returning the money. His thefts from the company for 2½ years were large enough to create company cash flow problems.



One of James' cousins accidently discovered the crimes in December 2010 when he was searching the business' online banking system for a canceled check and discovered that several checks in one month had been payable to and signed by James.



Management didn't contact law enforcement nor engage an outside accountant. During its internal investigation, the family determined that it had lost at least $60,000 (though it was probably quite a bit more than that). Family members confronted James. He confessed and explained how he had stolen the money. The business fired him after he signed an agreement for restitution, which stipulated that the family wouldn't prosecute.




Before they discovered James' crimes, Bill and Bob had attributed cash-flow problems to a downturn in the economy. And James, of course, concurred. The brothers had to lay off employees and cut or reduce employee benefits for both family and non-family employees. The company still hasn't recovered from James' fraud schemes.



Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to fraud because they lack the resources to implement complete systems of internal controls and properly segregate accounting duties among their limited staffs. Therefore, accounting personnel may be tasked with completely inappropriate job functions that provide easy opportunities for committing financial frauds. Furthermore, the business cultures of small businesses are developed around a concept of a "trusted family" of employees. Consequently, placing trusted employees in positions without proper internal controls doesn't appear to be an unreasonable decision to managers of a "family" business.



According to the ACFE's 2012 Report to the Nations, estimated median losses for small organizations — those with fewer than 100 employees — that experienced a fraud were $147,000. The report indicated that small organizations are the most common victims in fraud instances at 31.8 percent — the highest rate of any business size category. (For example, organizations with 100 to 999 employees had a fraud incident frequency of 19.5 percent; 1,000 to 9,999, 28.1 percent; and 10,000 plus, 20.6 percent.)



The five most common fraud schemes for organizations with fewer than 100 employees in the ACFE report were: billing fraud, corruption, check tampering, skimming and expense reimbursement fraud. Corruption schemes deal with crimes such as bribery, illegal gratuities and kickback arrangements. The largest number of perpetrators in the entire study, 41.5 percent, had been with the organization between one and five years, most of them had a college degree and worked in the accounting area.



Even using ACFE survey data, it's difficult to estimate the true losses from employee frauds. Small businesses often don't report these crimes because of families' embarrassment, decisions not to file criminal charges or wanting to keep knowledge of the crimes privy. Only a small number of small business embezzlement victims — roughly two percent — report crimes even though 40 percent of small businesses report they have been victimized, according to the May 16, 2011, article in The Daily Record, "Employee theft at small business high and hard to detect," by Kathleen Johnston Jarboe (accessible for a fee).



In this article, we provide several practical recommendations for small business managers to help them prevent these fraud schemes.







Employee thieves normally don't fit the stereotypical career criminal profile. They often are in good standing, have worked with a company on average of four to five years and nine out of 10 of them are first-time offenders, according to the January 2011 article, "Opportunity Knocks," by Brian Shappell in Business Credit magazine (available only to NACM members).



Approximately 87 percent of the occupational fraudsters studied in the ACFE's 2012 Report to the Nations had never been charged or convicted of a fraud-related offense, and 84 percent had never been punished or terminated by an employer for fraud-related conduct. Consequently, the most trusted employee — who has easy access to funds and has never stolen anything — may yield to the overwhelming temptation to take company resources when he or she is faced with personal financial stress. Donald R. Cressey's well-known fraud triangle highlights factors such as personal stress (what he called "perceived non-shareable financial need" or pressure) that contribute to the implementation of a fraud scheme. (He said the other two points of the triangle are perceived opportunity and rationalization. See the ACFE's 2013 Fraud Examiners Manual, 4.502 – 4.504.)



The motives for committing a financial fraud include greed, financial pressures or employee disenfranchisement. Disenfranchised employees become resentful after spending years handling mundane details for their employers without recognition, according to "The Downside of Good Times," by Anita Dennis in the November 2000 issue of Journal of Accountancy. They feel forgotten.



Other employees are motivated because they believe they're entitled to more financial compensation. They also rationalize they'll only "temporarily" borrow the money, and they'll return it later. Motive, rationalization and opportunity work in combination to increase the potential for employee fraud in any organization.




In many small businesses, the major reason fraudsters can commit their crimes is because management trusts them so much; they're family members or longtime friends, or they have proven work records and years of service, according to "The Trust Factor," by George A. Cassola in the Managerial Auditing Journal, volume 8, 1993, issue 7. That high trust level enables fraudsters to hide their activities. Even when business owners find suspicious behavior, they often believe it's inconceivable that employees would violate these trusted relationships. So, consequently, they hesitate to investigate, which results in much larger frauds





Thanks to Tricia O' Sullivan and Conor O' Sullivan for sharing this great article with us.







How can a family’s values be transformed into social impact?
Thursday, 30 June 2016 13:34

This question goes to the heart of family business philanthropy. And it's central to our latest study, which surveyed over 500 family businesses globally and found what makes them engage in giving.



We discovered that philanthropy plays a big part in bringing different generations closer together and that the founder's values are crucial. And there's a growing emphasis on social impact investing, which is the newest form of giving.





Investing in impact


We found that family businesses apply a portfolio approach. They invest in several forms of philanthropy at the same time. Providing services to the community is the most popular, followed by monetary contributions to charities. Next, though, comes social impact investing – targeting specific social objectives while earning a financial return.


It was interesting to see that more than a third of all family business owners, and a half of all large businesses, said that they're "highly engaged" in social impact investing. More than two-thirds say they're already involved in some way. I see these levels of engagement going higher in the years to come, in family businesses throughout the world.





Looking to the legacy


The study also revealed that family firms have a holistic perspective, centered on the founder's vision. Many family business owners pay particular attention to the past and cherish the business's heritage. Nearly 90% of sixth-generation family members agree that their philanthropy should be in line with the founder's values. I think that this sense of identity is very powerful and informs the social and environmental causes the family supports.


What's more, there's a positive relationship between the owners' wish to pass on the business to the next generation and their philanthropic giving. Owners who are concerned with the future well-being of the family are more motivated to address the long-term social and environmental issues in the world outside.






Government incentives


Family businesses adjust their portfolio and their chosen investment vehicles according to the local cultural and legal context. Government support is a decisive factor here. In countries where our respondents believe there are tax benefits for charitable giving, family businesses are more likely to engage in philanthropy.

In particular, there should be more tax breaks to encourage impact investing. The UK has extended its social investment tax relief – I'd like to see other countries follow suit. We need enlightened policymaking.







The next chapter in philanthropy


But where is family business philanthropy heading? In my view, families are united in their search for effective solutions. That's reflected in the high levels of personal involvement, which are greatest in small family firms and in the larger businesses. They want to be as close as possible to their favored causes.


And it's why families evaluate their philanthropy very carefully. There's room for improvement, though – nearly 60% of owners would like to have a sharper focus on their projects' effectiveness. They want to know about the connections they're making, the problems they're helping to solve and the positive impact they have on the world.


Family business philanthropy is all about forging relationships.

It's a long-term social investment with a clear family identity and a strong value base.







Balancing the family business board
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 11:32

Sustainable and successful family businesses tend to have strong governance. One important prong in their governance models is a board of directors. As featured in our report, Staying power: how do family businesses create lasting success?, nearly 90% of the world's largest family businesses have a functioning board.


A strong board helps reduce the risk of nepotism, internal conflict, inequitable allocation of ownership shares and succession woes. And well-functioning boards diligently monitor performance and draw on the industry knowledge gained through the years.



Unfortunately, a board made up of only family members can experience governance issues due to the unique dynamics of family relationships. But independent outsiders can help family members navigate idiosyncratic personalities and the family dynamics that can impede smooth succession and sound business decisions.



For family businesses to make the best decisions regarding leadership, purpose, business strategy and succession, they need to be able to reflect. Personal interests and feelings often cloud that reflection.

Independent directors can provide the needed clarity as well as a fresh perspective. Since they are not part of the family unit — or a friend or paid advisor — they can bring the necessary objectivity to the difficult decisions, particularly those regarding strategic initiatives and management roles.



Independent directors help balance the family's desires with the fiscal needs of the business, a key component to a lasting legacy. Their responsibilities span from mediating shareholder differences to identifying new growth areas. They offer expertise and knowledge that the family management team may be lacking, and they can shed light on areas the family may have never even considered.



Because of the pivotal role independent board members play, family businesses should take great care when seeking out such advisors. Recruitment should focus on the specific capabilities and experience the company needs, such as work in a related field, experience in assisting with succession plans, a strong financial analysis background and more.

The goal is to find a candidate who can help balance the family's expectations with realistic objectives — someone who can assist the family with making decisions based on market insight, objective data and sound principles. The ideal candidate will be an independent outsider with no other ties to the company so he or she can make recommendations without fear of repercussions.



Independent directors of family-owned companies provide more than business intelligence. They:


Serve as coach, counselor and peer advisor

Consider how strategic and operational recommendations, such as succession planning and dividend policy, affect family dynamics
Place the enterprise on a path to a strong legacy for future generations
Family businesses should strive to add independent outsiders to their boards of directors.

The objectivity, clarity, and valuable insight they bring to the table can help create a long lasting legacy.








Here's a 21st Century take on the traditional family farm
Monday, 27 June 2016 13:41
Kildare Farm Foods is an example of intelligent entrepreneurship at its very best. They know what's working and they know when to diversify
Since taking up farming during his late teens David, like his father before him, has been keen to expand and improve, which may explain why Kildare Farm Food's offerings today are so multifaceted.
Over the last two decades, David has moved from rearing turkeys to processing, cold storage and distribution, and more recently into retail with Kildare Farm Foods' latest venture - a shop and free open farm, which has become a hugely popular family and tourist destination, employing more than 40 people.
"My grandparents came here to the farm from the West of Ireland. It was a Land Commission holding - just a few small houses built by the Land Commission back when they were dividing up the big estates from the landlords," David explains.
"That is where it began. So my grandparents had a very small farm and my father also worked as a farm labourer on another farm to top up the income."
David describes his father, who now works in a semi-retired role at Kildare Farm Foods, as an "extremely progressive and energetic" person who has always had "aspirations to be a bigger farmer".
"He wanted to be a full-time farmer and grow, so he got into things that were not really mainstream at the time and turkeys were one of these," David explains.
"He was a dairy farmer, he kept some horses, he kept some cattle, he also bought pigs from all the other local farmers. He had a little weighbridge, so he used to bring them on to the factories or bring them to the sales and he would turn money from that, but with turkeys he found that he could get into things without a lot of land."
Inspired by his father's progressive approach, David grew up deeply involved in the family's growing farming business.
"I wanted to do nothing but farming; I wanted more cows, more of anything that I could get my hands on," David remembers. "It was the early 1990s and a tough enough time - but I was as determined as my father and I wanted to progress. There was great potential in the turkeys because there were no quotas or restrictions, all you needed was enough money to build a shed and have a small amount of ground, so I went at it hell for leather and put in as many turkeys as I could, even before I finished school."
David did well in school, despite the fact that he only had eyes for farming. After his Leaving Certificate, his parents allowed him to attend agricultural college under one condition; that he would go on and do a degree after he had finished.
David agreed and returned from his year at agricultural college to farm by day and study accountancy by night for the following four years.
"The turkeys became very profitable; turkey wasn't just for Christmas anymore, it was in carvery restaurants, which were now springing up all over Ireland too," David says.
Soon, David was supplying huge orders of turkeys, mainly to the hospitality industry.
"Within a year, it just took off. We couldn't keep up with the demand," he says. "So we expanded and it continued to a point where we were going into the millions in turnover within a few years, which was extraordinary."
"It flew for a few years. However, in the late 1990s the market worldwide opened up - and European products started to come into Ireland and the European product was in some cases half the price of our product," David adds.
"I spent a few years trying to go against the grain and question the quality, but it turned out that the European stuff was actually as good, not locally grown and produced, but often a fantastic quality product from countries who had a long history of poultry farming."
David managed to maintain a level of presence in the market by focusing on his service and adding the distribution of a number of other products to his company's offering.
"We started to sell chicken instead of just turkey, then a customer said 'is there any chance you'd get me a few chips?' so we'd do that and then it was bread rolls and it went on and on. We currently have about 3,000 different product lines now," David explains. "At the same time this was all happening, we reduced down the amount of slaughtering we did and the number of turkeys we were selling and we then decided that we would take a look at stopping the slaughtering and specialise moreso in the marketing of the product, the distribution and the portioning in-house; further processing the raw material from the slaughterhouse.
"So we scaled down our own slaughtering operation and at the same time we built cold storage - converting the existing turkey houses - and in 2004-2005 we built a combined cold store to hold about 550 pallets of product, which also had a boning hall, packing rooms and specialised tracing equipment," David adds. "By so doing, we found that we were again able to hold our own and grow again."
However, more obstacles were on the way for Kildare Farm Foods; when the Irish economy fell off a financial cliff in 2007, a large number of their regular customers could not pay their outstanding debts.
"We had accounts everywhere, in every restaurant and hotel that you can think of within 50 to 100 miles of here - and unfortunately, when the economy nose-dived, almost everybody caught us for money.
"And it wasn't small amounts, it was several hundred thousand," David explains. "While it was disastrous, we had been in business quite a while, so we had built up a certain durability - we had some money in the war chest, so to speak.
"We decided that we would step back from all of these hospitality-type accounts at that point and while this was all going on, I had a plan that I would be able to further process products for other distributors," David adds.
"So suddenly we had guys who would have been our competition at the very start coming to us because we found that we could portion these products for them and brand them with their name on it, in a very cost-effective way. So we went back to what we had been doing originally really, which was cutting up white meat products and getting our hands dirty."
Again Kildare Farm Foods managed to return to form and by carving this niche in the wholesale and food servicing market for themselves, they managed to once again double their turnover within two years.
As well as the more profitable sides to his business, for a number of years David opened a farm shop counter each Saturday morning at the premises in Rathmuck where he would sell produce directly to the public.
"It sometimes seemed like a total waste of time to be honest, but I kept it going because I would never drop anything. If I thought there was even €50 in it, I would continue to do it because you never know where the potential is," David says.
On the next occasion that David decided to expand the premises, he included a purpose-built, 15 foot by 15 foot shop space in the plan.
"For some reasons, Christmas 2007 saw a huge upsurge in interest in the shop - people flooded in and we sold 10 times the turkeys we had before and when people came in they'd also buy other products - cranberry sauce, glazed ham. It was fantastic," David says.
"January came then and we slipped back into our routine, but we had a small Falabella pony in the field here in front of the shop. I hadn't taken any notice of it really, but I saw this little girl crying one Saturday morning when she was going out the door with her grandmother.
"I went out after her with an ice cream and the grandmother told me she was crying because they had been coming every Saturday to look at the pony and the child was distraught that it wasn't there that particular morning. So I thought then there might be something in that."
This event planted a seed in David's mind; he would add value to his products by giving something back to the customers, an experience, and it would be free.
"I thought that if we had something like that, that you could come in and feed the animals and walk through the shop and back out through, then surely if we were good enough at our jobs we'd be able to sell people something," David smiles.
And with that, Kildare Farm Foods open farm and shop was born.
"One thing led to another, we spent about €250,000 doing it because we wanted to do it right and have it so that you could use it every day of the year," David explains.
"We gutted the place and shut for a week, then we reopened on Easter Saturday and it just exploded in popularity. We opened every day after that, firstly just in the afternoons and then all day every day."
The premises has since been expanded again, with a cafe added in 2014 and an extension to the open farm, which is now home to wallabies, mara, pigs, goats, ponies, deer and ostriches among others, a party room, an indoor 18-hole crazy golf experience and the 'Adventure Rail Road' - a train which departs from the Farm Shop station for a spin around the farm several times a day.
"We will keep changing and making it different all the time," David says. "We are always trying to create a relaxed, customer-friendly environment and you can never underestimate that feel-good factor."
David's wife, who was previously an IT consultant with Deloitte, now works full-time in the business also.
"There is very little differentiation between work and life; it is our life and we like it that way," David says. "We reinvest every cent and more. Food is not an easy business, it is competitive and it can be a hard slog, so you have to constantly change and adapt.
The Family Business: preserving and transferring wealth
Thursday, 23 June 2016 13:43
I trust this article finds you well. It gives a case study on the common issues that Family Businesses face. 
‘Paddy’s Italia’ is a 3rd generation family run chain of restaurants. Originally set up as a pub today ‘Paddy Italia ’ has 5 restaurants and a franchise branch and employs 65 people.

Members involved in the Family Business: 


Paddy Founder, long retired

Stephen Current CEO,

Paddy’s Son Dominic Group Manager

Emilo Part Time Coordinator

Rachel Looking to join the business

Philip Doesn’t work in the business

Sofia Doesn’t work in the business

Issue: Trust & reluctance to 'let go'

Mr. Stephen O'Hare is the current CEO and sole shareholder of Paddy's Italia, a successful family run chain of restaurants. He is in his early 60s
and he and his wife have five children, two of whom are involved in the business.
Stephen's son, Dominic, is eager to take over management responsibilities from his father; however, Stephen is finding it difficult to step back.
Stephen's perception is that his son is not yet capable or experienced enough to manage the business—an outlook that is causing frustration
for his sons, especially Dominic, the eldest. This is impacting negatively on both the family and the business
Audience participation:

• This scenario demonstrates a need for communication and clarity of roles and responsibilities.

• It calls for a greater handling of power issues and struggles.

• The issue arises from the cultural difference between generations. The older generation is the
entrepreneur while the next generation represents the more professionalised approach.

• Respect needs to be shown for both incoming and outgoing generations.

• Stephen should work on trusting his judgment in appointing his successor and he should develop
his trust in others to lead the business.

• Stephen should still be kept in the loop. This may be in the form of a debriefing following the

• Unemotionally discuss issues. By separating business issues and family issues you can survey the
business in a more objective manner.
Other points to consider:

Family businesses are typically not good at planning the succession process, simply because they do not do it very often. The typical tenure of a leader of a family owned business is 20 years, whereas, in public companies, CEOs are in their position for usually less than 7 years.

In order to successfully transfer the business to his successor, Stephen needs to not only prepare his son, but he also needs to prepare himself to 'let the firm go'.

Preparing to let go is more than putting a succession plan in place and identifying a successor. For the transfer to be
successful, and to enhance the probability of success, successors need to be developed and nurtured over time.
Other points to consider (continued):

A critical element in being able to 'let go' is investing in the process of knowledge transfer for the nominated
Firms with formal succession plans require successors to:
(1) 'learn business' through formal education
and working outside the business;
(2) 'learn the family business' in particular the family network and network
management skills;
(3) 'learn to lead the family business' by codifying knowledge and learning the tacit knowledge,
training in operational and financial management, and thinking strategically in the business.
The most successful multi-generational firms are those who are more adept at managing these factors.

Below are three useful and practical steps that can be used to ensure a smooth transition:

1.Define a timeline.

Develop a defined timeline for retirement. The timetable works better if the founder has developed it and done so early.

2.Create management development systems.

Valuing and creating management development systems is part of all three earlier learning phases (4Ls), and is important to support 'a clear line of succession'.

3.Stick to the plan.

Issue: Dividing assets 

Stephen and his wife have five children, two of whom are currently involved in the family business. His other three children work elsewhere,
and hold little connection to the business.

Stephen is unclear about ownership succession planning, specifically in terms of allocating the assets amongst his children. Should he only divide
the assets between the two children that are working in the business or should he also include his other three children?
This issue is causing tension between Stephen and his eldest son Dominic, who believes he should inherit the entire business.
Audience participation:

• This issue developed from a lack of communication.

• This problem can manifest when family members feel a sense of entitlement to the business.

• It may be necessary to separate business assets from heritance assets.
Other points to consider:

U.S. evidence suggests that 70% of wealth transitions fail (Williams and Preisser, 2003). Typically, the failure in transition is attributed to a breakdown in communication and trust in the family unit, and a lack of preparation of the next generation.
Successful transition requires soft skills such as communication, knowledge transfer and learning, in addition to building industry, network, and entrepreneurial skills.

The biggest hurdle family business owners must jump is the mindset of treating children equally. In dividing family business assets there is rarely fairness in the equal division of assets. Instead, owners must consider being fair and equitable. These goals can be mutually achievable.
One option would be to use a 'buy-sell agreement' that equally divides shares of the business among all of the siblings. The agreement, however, could give the eldest son (Dominic) the first right to buy the shares owned by his siblings. The younger siblings would benefit from the sale of those shares, while Dominic would retain ownership of the family business.
Issue:Experience vs. education


With a strong entrepreneurial spirit, but no formal education, Stephen took over his father's pub/restaurant business at the age of 21. He
worked hard for the next forty years and grew the business into a verysuccessful company, experiencing firsthand the ups and downs, successes
and failures of the business.
The sacrifices he made and fear of scarcity along the way help him manage the reality of having significant wealth.
Stephen's children, on the other hand, have all received a formal education, two of them with Masters degrees. The issue of experience vs.
education is now posing a problem between Stephen and his son Dominic, who both view their 'past' as providing them with the authority to make
the best decisions for business.
Audience participation:

• This issue requires acceptance and compromise from both generations, with the new generation accepting traditional elements of the business and the outgoing generation embracing new techniques.

• The ideal is to marry together tacit knowledge with education.

• Respect should be shown to both parties as both have worked for their place in the business.

• This situation calls for more open discussion among family members.
Other points to consider:

Both men need to understand that the experience and tacit knowledge held by Stephen, and the formal education of Dominic, are both equally important going forward and to make decisions for the business.

A key element in preparing to let go of the business, and thus the implementation of a successful transfer of wealth, is the process of knowledge transfer. One of the most valuable assets in a business is the 'know-how'; this is a core intangible asset of the business.
Moores and Barret (2010) suggest the 'inside-outside' paradox for acquiring and transferring business knowledge.
'Going outside' the family business to obtain formal education and work in other companies provides vital learning opportunities to develop new skills and broader perspectives not readily available within the family business. It also allows the family member to prove themselves worthy of career progression and promotion into senior management roles, an important pathway in order to 'return inside' the family firm where they will learn the
unique aspects of the family business.
Family business leaders hold specific knowledge, often based on tradition, and part of 'the way we do things around here'. It is important to capture theses traditions in order to explain why 'we do things the way we do' and what is unique to the firm.
The successor needs to spend time with the incumbent when he/she 'returns inside' in order to ensure this transfer of this 'tacit' knowledge takes place.
Other potential issues to consider Compensation & equality

Throughout his time in the business, Stephen has always held a modest salary. Often, in order to attract experienced professionals in areas where
he lacked expertise, Stephen would offer a higher rate of compensation than his own.
However, the 3rd generation have earned significant salaries and have owned luxury company cars since they first joined the company. This is causing tension amongst the non-family employees. As Stephen is now approaching his mid-60s he is becoming increasingly conscious that he has failed to adequately plan for his retirement.
After all his years of hard work in the business he would now like to provide financial security for his wife and himself. He suggests a "pay-out" upon
retirement, but his son Dominic is not too keen on the idea...
Points to consider:

Any family firm has three choices of orientation: family-first, ownership-first or management-first. In family-first businesses, employment in the family business is a birthright.
Family members are encouraged to work in the business, and remuneration and dividends depend on family needs. In ownership-first family businesses, time horizons for investments and perceived risk are the most important issues. Management-first family businesses require work experience outside the family firm as a prerequisite for employment of family members.
Family firms need to be aware of their main orientation, as this will guide their strategic decisions. In the case of Paddy's Italia, it looks as though the business has moved from an ownership-first or management first family business, to a family-first business. It needs to be decided which orientation the family firm will take into the future. 
Other potential issues to consider In law involvement

Stephen's son, Dominic, is married with children. His wife comes from a different family background to the O'Hare's, with different values and
ways of communicating.
She is very straight to the point, whereas in the O'Hare family they tend to hint and beat about the bush a little bit. She doesn't get on with Stephen and is always pushing for Dominic to take his Father's position as MD of the business.
Points to consider:

Approaches to this issue vary, and there are interesting cultural differences around the world.
At one extreme(common in some Mediterranean countries and in Latin America), in-laws are fully accepted and enjoy family member status in relation to the business. At the other extreme (expecially in the U.S.), in-laws are often excluded, not just from share ownership, but also from any involvement in the business or its family governance architecture.
One of our 'case companies' has take a middle course. They have adopted a formal entry process to the family business covering both young family members and their prospective spouses. They are invited to annual meetings (before which they sign confidentiality agreements) at which they receive a detailed briefing from family leaders on financial and trust arrangements in place, along with the opportunities and roles available for new family members.
The main aim of the briefings is to ensure that each new family member finds out what their new family can expect and what is expected of them. With benefits balanced by obligations, the positive message is clear – that new members are welcomed into the family, but they are required to respect rules and traditions that have developed
across generations.
Other potential issues to consider Brothers vs. sisters – women in business

Emilio and Dominic are brothers, both work within the family business.
Dominic is older than Emilio and has been in the Business since he graduated...Emilio has gone onto college but has always worked summers and Holidays in the Family Business and now works part time.
Emilio has discovered that their Father has decided to make their sister Rachel who is recent masters graduate an HR Director...Dominic thinks
this is a great idea, whereas Emilio is freaking and saying that it just cannot happen....
Points to consider:

In May 2014, the Irish Independent published an impressive list of businesswomen entitled, "The 50 most
influential and powerful women in business." Such a list would have been unimaginable even 30 years ago, and it
stands as a testament to the tenacity, ability and ambition of women in business. Among those 50 were Margaret
Heffernan and Sharon McMahon of Dunnes Stores, Caroline Keeling of Keelings Fruit and Marion O'Gorman of the
Kilkenny Group
10 Questions to Ask Before Family and Friends Become Business Partners
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 15:27

Bringing a family member or friend on board as a business partner may seem like a fine idea, but the relationship can prove tricky to navigate--or to end, if things don't go well. "It's easy to get into business, but it's hard to get out," says Wayne Rivers, president of the Family Business Institute, a consulting firm based in Raleigh, N.C.



That means you need to take a step back and think carefully before partnering with a friend or relative. Here are 10 key questions to consider:



Are we in it for the same reasons?

Be clear about your goals. Do you want to expand your business and eventually sell it, or build something your family can pass down? "The mistake is not being clear about what your intentions are," says David Ransburg, a consultant with The Family Business Consulting Group, Inc., based in Chicago. If you don't have the same goals for the business, you'll have a hard time making plans or coming to a consensus on big decisions.



What is this person bringing to the job?

Don't let your relationship color how qualified and well suited for the job your potential partner might be. Think about the credentials and level of commitment you would expect from anyone you were giving such a key role in the company. You may want to write a job description with qualification requirements and see how the experiences of a friend or family member measure up, Rivers says.



Should you offer an equity stake in the business?

You need to decide whether you want to offer your new partner an equity interest in the company, and if so, how much and how soon. Not only do you want to be sure a potential partner can add value to the business before sharing ownership, but you also should consider giving the person an interest in the business over a period of time, say five years, rather than all at once, says John Davis, faculty chair of the Families in Business Program at Harvard Business School. It can be easy to deal informally with family and friends, but you want to make the terms clear in a signed shareholder agreement.



What will happen when we can't agree?

Resolving conflicts with family and close friends can be particularly challenging because personal feelings can easily get mixed up with business decisions. "With friends and family... you might make more knee jerk reactions," says Ira Bryck, Director of the UMass Family Business Center in Amherst, Mass. "You can be your worst self where you need to be your best self." You will need to figure out a way to remain professional by taking personal feelings out of decision-making and focusing instead on objective measurements and standards.



How in sync is our risk tolerance?

Despite your personal connections, you and a family member or friend may feel very differently about taking risks. For example, an older sibling who saw his parents take many risks when starting the family business might be more willing to take risks himself than a younger sibling who got involved later when the company was more established, Bryck says. Determine how in sync you are on such vital decisions as launching new products or trying out new forms of advertising. While you can certainly disagree from time to time, you don't want to constantly butt heads.



What will each of our roles be?

In a 2010 study of 518 family-owned businesses, the most successful ones had made each person's role in the company clear upfront, says Tracy Shaw, assistant vice president of business market development at MassMutual Financial Group, which oversaw the "FamilyPreneurship" study. For Lidia and Uli Fluhme, married founders of Gran Fondo NY, which began running an annual 110-mile cycling event in New York in 2011, the division of labor has been clear from the get-go. While Lidia Fluhme takes care of logistical aspects of the event, her husband is responsible for interacting with cyclists and handling marketing and legal matters. "He's the visionary, and I'm the implementer of what happens," she says.



How will we keep our personal and professional lives separate?

When working with family or close friends, the boundaries between your personal and professional lives are bound to blur. But you can maintain some work-life balance if you establish a few rules. For example, you might agree not to discuss work during family meals or to talk about personal matters at work only in an emergency.



How will this person be evaluated?

Family and friends tend to sweep a lot of things under the rug in business rather than addressing them, Rivers says. But you need to hold one another accountable and figure out how you will evaluate each other's performance on a regular basis. If providing feedback, especially criticism, seems too difficult given your personal relationship, you can seek out a third party for the assessments, Rivers says.



If it doesn't work out, what do we do?

It isn't unusual to want to change your career, but when you're in business with a close friend or family member, you might feel you can't leave because it will hurt your personal relationship. Before asking a family member or friend to become your partner, consider what might happen if one or both of you wants out. How will you handle the exiting partner's shares? Who will take over the responsibilities of the departing partner? What will this do to your personal relationship?



What will our succession plan look like?

Even if you both plan to stick it out for the long haul, you're still going to have to think about your successors. Unfortunately, succession planning often goes unaddressed because it suggests mortality, illness or other unpleasant life events you'd rather not discuss. But failing to address succession planning "is like getting on a plane with a pilot who hasn't learned how to land the plane," Bryck says. "You really need to sit down and have this difficult discussion."










Keeping It Professional When You Work in a Family Business
Monday, 20 June 2016 15:16

Working in the family business can be fraught. When your manager is also your parent, sibling, or another relative, how do you keep things professional? Do you ask to be treated the same way as others, or accept that you will have a different sort of relationship at the office? Do you publicly call your mother "mom," or your father "dad"? And what about getting candid feedback for your own growth and development?




What the Experts Say

People who successfully work with family often say there is nothing more fulfilling or enriching, says Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at the global executive search firm Egon Zehnder and an expert on family businesses. These people "consistently speak of a much greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives," he says. But if something goes wrong, the damage can be devastating. Fallouts with family over work can cause a tremendous amount of anger, sadness, and shame, says Rob Lachenauer, CEO and cofounder of Banyan Family Business Advisors. "When ordinary people get fired, they get another job," he says. "When a family member gets fired, they feel they've been fired from what they were born to be." Here's how to effectively work alongside relatives.




Work somewhere else first

Experience in an outside firm should be a requirement before embarking on your career in the family business, says Lachenauer. You'll get invaluable training, improve your business judgment, and build your confidence. You'll also gain much-needed perspective on what you hope the arc of your career might look like. Starting off elsewhere is critical "not just because of what you will learn in terms of capabilities," says Fernández-Aráoz, "but fundamentally, in getting to know yourself" and understanding "what you want to do as you get older."




Create separate spheres immediately

On day one when you return to the family business, set a boundary between family time and work time. Letting the two bleed into one another is a recipe for conflict, says Lachenauer. You don't want to talk about clients at Sunday dinner, or about family drama at the office. "Thinking physically is very useful," he says. "When you are in the office, you are business people. When you are on the ranch, you are family." Create house rules about which family matters are permissible to talk about at the office and vice versa. It can be helpful to note which hat you're wearing before embarking on a conversation. For example, you can preface a discussion by saying, "I'm talking to you as your son right now, not your employee." If you feel your family member isn't respecting these boundaries, "bring it up privately and immediately," says Lachenauer.




Define your role and career path

Make sure you have a crystal-clear understanding of your job description and that others know what role you fill. That way you'll avoid needlessly stepping on colleagues' toes or giving anyone the impression that you're resting on your laurels. Be transparent and proactive about your expectations and goals for the future, especially if you would like to hold the top job in the future. "Succession between generations is a very risky project," says Fernández-Aráoz, which is why it's critical to talk early and openly about rules for advancement and what handing off power might look like. "Recognize you may get more opportunities than others," Lachenauer says. "Acknowledge that, and then work your butt off."





Adopt an office voice

Pay attention to the details of your interactions with family. "Language matters tremendously," says Lachenauer. Actively listen and use a professional tone with one another — that way you don't make others feel excluded by your closeness or cause unnecessary squabbles when boundaries are breached. Lachenauer recommends you not call each other by nicknames at work, as it "can signal to other employees that the family relationship takes precedence." But strike the balance that feels right for you. "You don't want to behave artificially," says Fernández-Aráoz. If calling your mom by her first name feels too awkward, for example, don't strain to do it, but consider using her given name when discussing her decisions with colleagues.




Seek independent feedback

Getting candid input when you're the boss's son or daughter can be difficult, if not impossible. "Assume you won't get good feedback," Lachenauer advises. He suggests participating in the standard review process but always supplementing it with outside evaluations to ensure that you learn and grow on the job. "Ask for 360 reviews or employ a coach," he says. The key is to be proactive, adds Fernández-Aráoz. "You cannot wait for top-down guidance." One smart strategy is to tap an independent board member to evaluate your progress and performance so you can get smart career advice and reviews.




Have a backup plan

When your professional and personal lives are intertwined, your own identity can be overtaken by the daily demands of family and work. For your sanity and future success, it's critical to maintain outside interests and contacts of your own. That might mean dedicating time to professional networking and enrichment groups so that you keep up with business contacts and develop new skills. It might also mean carving out time for personal hobbies or taking vacations without the extended family, so you have some breathing room away from the business. And as much as it might pain you to consider, think regularly about a Plan B, in the event the family business — or your place in it — hits tough times. "Have an exit plan," says Lachenauer. "Then it won't be the end of the world if it happens."





Principles to Remember


Get experience at an outside company first to improve your judgment and boost your confidence.
Be proactive about asking for candid feedback from someone outside your family.
Have a Plan B.




Bring family nicknames into the office. Maintain a professional tone whenever possible.
Completely meld work and family. Keep the two worlds separate.
Let yourself be coddled. It always ends badly.




Case Study #1: Work elsewhere before climbing the family ladder

Toby Bozzutto's father, Tom, never asked him if he wanted to work in the family real estate management company. But after a few disillusioning years in the music business, Toby wanted to do just that. Tom was surprised at the request but agreed on three conditions: "I had to go work for someone else first," says Toby. "I had to get a master's degree in real estate development. And I had to start at the bottom."


Toby did everything his father asked, joining The Bozzuto Group in 2001 as a development associate. He eventually headed up the company's development business before becoming the company's president in 2013. "I was tremendously concerned that people would think I was entitled or only there because of nepotism, and subconsciously it made me work twice as hard," he says.


Tom and Toby made sure to stay focused on business while at the office. "I didn't have a direct line to him, and he didn't seek me out," says Toby. "It was exceedingly rare that we talked about our family life at work, and if we did, we did it away from everyone else."


Early on, they also attended a weeklong seminar at Harvard University that focused on leadership transitions. "One of the things we learned was that I should never report to my father," says Toby, "and that I should be treated the same as anyone else."


"When you begin to work with your family, the trajectory of your relationship changes," he adds. "For us, it has been so rewarding and enriching. But it's hard because business is so deeply intertwined with the personal."


Toby says he'd be thrilled if any of his three children express an interest in joining the business. But until then, "I'm going to mimic my dad and never bring it up."





Case Study #2: Set clear expectations from day one

When it was clear that Teddy Winthrop was growing dissatisfied with his career at an executive search firm, his brother Bayard offered him some advice. "He told me to figure out what I was passionate about, to start learning about business, and to become interesting to people who might want to hire me," Teddy recalls.


This prompted something of an epiphany. Bayard had recently launched American Giant, a U.S. manufacturer of high-quality hooded sweatshirts sold directly to consumers. Teddy admired the organization's mission and reinvention of the retail supply chain, so he went back to his brother and told him, "I want to work for you." After mulling it over for a week, Bayard agreed to hire Teddy as an operations coordinator in the rapidly growing startup.


"From the beginning, I was concerned about favoritism," Teddy says. But Bayard made it clear that Teddy would be receiving no special treatment. Teddy explains that on his first day of work, the two sat down together to set clear expectations: "Bayard said, 'As your brother, I want you to learn from this experience. As your boss, I expect you to run through walls for me.' The separation of the worlds was there from the beginning."


Bayard also told Teddy's supervisor to give him very direct feedback. "That honesty allowed me to excel," says Teddy. "I knew when I was doing a good and bad job." He also benefited from monthly evaluations where he would rate his own performance and colleagues would offer anonymous feedback.


The experience Teddy gained at American Giant proved invaluable when he decided to strike out on his own with a new idea. In 2015 Teddy launched his own company, Edward Field, which also sells American-made products: innovative wallets that hold smartphones. He credits Bayard's no-nonsense leadership and advice with helping to inspire him.


"Setting expectations early is one of the most important things when working with family," he says. "Separating work from home is key so you can have a healthy perspective."










3 Business Benefits of Corporate Philanthropy
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 09:49

3 Ways Philanthropy Can Benefit Your Business



1. Builds respect and reputation within the community

- When you do good, people notice. Community members are more likely to support businesses that have shown a vested interest in helping the community.

An article on used Facebook as an example. When Facebook decided to move to Menlo Park in the San Francisco Bay area years ago, community members worried about the impact the new employees could have on the city's infrastructure.

In response, Facebook spent millions of dollars on infrastructural improvements, such as improving bike trails to reduce traffic congestion created by the throngs of new employees. The company also donated $120 million to nearby schools, which, unsurprisingly, helped boost their public image.



2. Boosts company morale

- Owners often get so caught up in the daily grind, causing them to forget about the little things that contribute to their employees' joy and fulfillment.

When it comes down to it, employees like working with people and companies that understand the importance of giving back. It improves their respect for the owner and company in general, which can increase employee satisfaction and morale. Happy employees are crucial for a thriving and sustainable business.



3. Presents networking opportunities

- Philanthropic organizations are chock-full of business owners who make giving back a priority. Getting your foot into these organizations surrounds you with powerful, like-minded people.

Plus, owners who give back tend to have a deeper trust for one another, meaning they're more likely to solicit your business if they need help with something that pertains to your area of expertise.



If your company hasn't engaged in philanthropic work, it's missing a key opportunity to boost unity, trust and morale. But more importantly, communities and the people within them - like Isabella - need our help. I hope you can find the time and resources to dedicate to these important causes.






4 Myths About Family Business Fraud
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 09:12

You may think that the trusting, tight-knit nature of family-owned businesses means they have a lower risk of fraud. But some experts believe the risk and occurrence of misappropriation are actually greater in family businesses due in part to that very environment of trust. Furthering the problem, the perpetrator may not realize his or her behavior is inappropriate.


Research consistently shows that fraud risks are everywhere, and family businesses are far from immune. Certain actions, such as a family member using the company credit card to fuel a personal vehicle or a trusted employee taking unrecorded time off, can start out as "innocent," but if left unobstructed can quickly escalate into bigger, bolder deceptions. While each situation is unique, common factors contributing to inappropriate behavior include a sense of entitlement to maintain lifestyle, trying to live up to performance expectations and inadequate internal controls.


Here are four fraud myths you need to confront when assessing your family business's risks:


Myth #1 — Our people wouldn't commit fraud.

You cannot vouch for all of your employees, regardless of relationship or employment history. The opportunity to commit more extensive and financially devastating fraud correlates with a person’s authority, position and power along with the degree of oversight.




Myth #2 — Fraud couldn't happen to us — we're a stable organization.

Fraud risks can affect any business. As organizations become more decentralized and complex, management must remain vigilant in their endeavors to detect and prevent all types of fraud. These include, but are not limited to, corruption, intellectual property theft, bribery and money laundering.





Myth #3 — If fraud occurred, it would be discovered quickly.

Individual fraud detection mechanisms have limitations. Typically, employees with the responsibility for monitoring the company's internal controls do not have the training or experience needed to properly review these controls. Because of that, though internal and external audits play useful roles, these functions have limited reach when it comes to fraud deterrence and detection.





Myth #4 — Damage wouldn't be significant.

Both the rate of occurrence and amount of loss are greater for private companies than public companies. Rate of recovery tends to decrease based on the size of the damage incurred. Reputational damage to the business and family can be even harder to measure, as the impact is so far-reaching. Remember, insurance coverage is limited to actual tangible losses proven by the company and does not generally account for secondary losses, such as reputational damage or legal and investigation costs.




Take action to prevent fraud now, not later.

Awareness and enforced controls that can prevent and detect wrongdoing are the best ways to reduce your family business's chances of falling victim to fraud. Make the rules about the use of company resources clear to both family and non-family employees, and allow no exceptions.

If you suspect fraud, it's critical that you take immediate action. As fraud is most often detected by other employees, instruct them to raise suspected issues to management, HR or legal rather than taking matters into their own hands. If termination is required, you'll need to protect the whistle-blower, the business and the family.

Remember: the potential of fraud occurring in your organization is a possibility that you must confront. You may never need to execute on a fraud action plan, but like every other aspect of running your business, it's a scenario that should be addressed before it's too late







How to lead your Family Business out of the crisis.
Monday, 13 June 2016 14:06

In recent months many firms have laid off employees, shelved growth plans and cut budgets as the recession and general pessimism continues to afflict the business world. Amid the deepest and most widespread economic downturn for more than 50 years, international trade is forecast to fall by more than 13% and world economic activity to shrink by 2.7%, according to Paris-based body the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Family-owned companies have suffered along with everyone else, but they have an inherent competitive advantage that can be leveraged to ensure they survive and prosper despite the poor business and financial climate. This advantage encompasses the well-documented benefits of committed owners, a long-term strategy, industry knowledge accumulated over generations and values such as trust, stewardship and longevity. However, such characteristics on their own do not ensure survival or success. More than at any other time, this crisis demands confident leadership and a focus on the competitive advantages created by family ownership and control. The following ideas should help you identify opportunities for improving your family and business leadership.




1. Take the tough decisions

Management's decisiveness is a critical success factor in any organisation's ability to deal with threats and give the employees a sense of purpose and safety. Nowhere is management more second-guessed than in making the tough decisions about closing businesses or divisions, delaying new initiatives, cost cutting or layoffs. Unfortunately management teams often fail to make the tough decisions and instead opt for a process that could best be described as a "death of a thousand cuts." The best recent example is General Motors who, for years, had too many brands and models compared to competitors such as Volkswagen and Toyota. Everyone knew that the right strategy was to close the smaller divisions such as Buick and Pontiac and concentrate resources on the Chevrolet and Cadillac brands, but it never happened. GM, which was the largest corporation in the world, is now bankrupt and has been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.


During a crisis, management needs to monitor results so that they are ready to take decisions on critical priorities such as controlling assets (cash, inventories and receivables). Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, had a hands-on approach to monitoring his stores competitiveness that allowed him to take immediate corrective action. Sam would ride with the Wal-Mart delivery trucks taking goods to his stores but before arriving at his store he would first stop to check the local competitor's prices. After checking the competitor's prices he knew if his store manager was beating the competition. When pricing deficiencies were found Wal-Mart prices were changed that morning to ensure their price leadership position was maintained.




2. Manage risk and contingencies

Managing risk requires increased attention to financial planning so your firm can continue to exploit its opportunities and strengthen its competitive position. Effective financial management in a crisis demands an aggressive business strategy combined with a shift in focus from growth and the bottom line (P & L) to the balance sheet and cash, debt, inventories and receivables. This financial focus demands considering the impact of different performance scenarios on long-term liquidity and debt.


Pernod Ricard, the French spirits and wine group, is a good example of a market leading family business that is working to balance an aggressive growth strategy with a solid financial structure. Last year the group had the opportunity to acquire Absolut vodka, a world-leading brand, for €9 billion. After the purchase was completed the next action was to complete a €1 billion rights offering to cover the group's financing needs until July 2013. Business risk can never be eliminated but Pernod Ricard is protected if business and credit conditions remained severely impaired. Most important their strengthened financial position ensures that they can weather the recession and still exploit the opportunities created by their acquisition.




3. Share information and communicate

Communication during a crisis serves two valuable purposes, first to inform and second to motivate. Engaged and well-informed employees and shareholders are more willing to make sacrifices that contribute to the business' future success. Listening to people's concerns and fears and allowing them to contribute ideas to creating a new vision for the family business is an important tool for strengthening long-term relationships and building commitment.


Communication in business families can be a logistics nightmare because of growing numbers of shareholders, multiple generations and increased mobility. Maintaining the family's connection is one of the goals of Younited, a web-based multimedia platform that enables business families to use technology to share information and collaborate more effectively. The real benefit is creating cost-effective ways for family members to connect person-to-person to learn more about each other, the business and their family. Edouard Janssen, one of the founders of Younited and a member of the 3000 plus Solvay family, jokingly calls it: "The secured family-centric Wikipedia/Facebook for business families." If he is right this tool is ideal for reaching the younger generation of a business family who may have limited business interest but are strongly motivated by the chance to be a part of a social network.




4. Practice effective family and business governance

If there is one thing the last ten years should have taught all of us it is that businesses need stronger governance processes that focus on leadership, accountability and performance. Effective governance is critical because family ownership shields non-performing management from the market pressures facing publicly-traded companies. If family governance is not effective then there are no forces to counterbalance management and the business can suffer from the owners' complacency. The consequences of limited accountability are missed opportunities and a loss of shareholder value.


The Dow Jones, owned by the Bancroft, family is a good example of ineffective family ownership and governance. While their entrepreneurial ancestors created financial journalism over a hundred years ago, the family's commitment to sound governance and active ownership has faded. For the last 30 years they have taken a very hands-off approach, basically delegating control of the company to management. Unfortunately the management was comprised of journalists and their focus was not on strategy or expanding the business. After the Dow Jones was sold to Rupert Murdoch a Bancroft family member observed: "That had things been run differently [Dow Jones], we might own a $50 billion business today not a $5 billion business."


Family business governance requires two basic elements. First, a capable family ownership group who is willing to constructively demand sound business strategies and long-term value creation and second, a board with a diverse membership that represents all the stakeholders' interests. Cargill, the world's largest agribusiness company, has used a strong board comprised of family members working alongside independent and employee directors as a foundation for their successful governance model. Kenneth Dayton, a member of the Dayton family and the founder of the Target Stores, described effective governance as a partnership between the board and the CEO with great boards supporting great CEOs. I would expand on this to say that effective governance also requires great owners.




5. Demonstrate values and stewardship

Family businesses are driven by values and relationships that reflect long-term commitments to their stakeholders and communities. During times of stress family members and employees need enacted demonstrations of the family's values to create a sense of stability. Continued support of philanthropy is a tangible example of a values driven organisation. It is easy to justify cutting charitable activities in the current environment but unfortunately this is when the needs of the communities we serve are at their greatest.


The Tsao family from Singapore and the Chen family from Hong Kong are engaging heavily in philanthropy by moving forward with important projects despite the current economic conditions. The Tsao family is leading the development of a new Family Business Network chapter for Asia Pacific and the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation is rolling out its Adaptive Eyewear programme to correct the vision of the entire nation of Rwanda. As James Chen says: "Beyond the personal benefits of correcting someone's vision is an economic development action because you create new opportunities based on improved productivity. Now is the time for action."




6. Encourage entrepreneurial behaviours in the next generation

Entrepreneurial founders launch the firm, their children professionalise it and their grandchildren expand to new markets or create new enterprises such as a family office or foundation. All of these entrepreneurial acts help the family become enterprising, grow its core business and expand into new activities. A capable and committed next generation is the most important legacy a business family can have. The next generation sustains the family legacy but also act as change agents with new perspectives on business and family. In Asia, entrepreneurship by the second and third generation is often the blending of Western management practices with Asian entrepreneurship to create a powerful hybrid model of business strategy.


BW Group, a world leader in shipping, represents this type of family development. The two succeeding generations – Dr Helmut Sohmen, chairman, and his son, Andreas Sohmen-Pao, managing director – have continued the entrepreneurial legacy of YK Pao to create one of the world's most important transportation groups. Dr Sohmen describes the difference between himself and the founder: "YK liked to receive information through personal discussions and networking, and sometimes acted on spot advice. I, on the other hand, prefer to get systematic input on the broad economic outlook before making any decisions."


Family leadership development is not an optional activity so family businesses need to develop their next generation leadership talent during both good and bad times. The Wates Group, a five-generation UK construction company, started this process five years ago. First they identified a team from the next generation who had the interest and talent to replace the five senior family members leading the firm at that time. Then they hired an outside consultant and proceeded with an accelerated programme of talent development. This included psychological assessments, custom designed executive workshops and participation by the next generation at board level. Of the seven family members who began the process, four have leadership roles, two are serving as executives in the firm and two are on the group board.


This development has given the Wates family a next generation that has the ability to make a positive contribution to the leadership of the business during these difficult times. During a recent lunch the remaining two senior-generation family leaders expressed a quiet confidence and even optimism about the prospects for their business because their next generation is in place working with a skilled non-family chairman/CEO and the board. The crisis may mean a drop in sales but their long-term vision of another century of Wates family ownership is safe. Andrew Wates, former executive chairman of the group, says: "We are at the beginning of our family journey today, not the end of it."




7. Exploit family business culture

Families are driven by values that reflect their shared beliefs, experiences and psychologies. The family's unique values and behaviours as owners and leaders shape how their family business culture develops. In Family Business on the Couch: A Psychological Perspective five family behaviours that contribute to the cultures that give business families an advantage over their non-family competition were identified: networking; goal alignment; control; time frame; and organising structures.


Family business culture is a powerful tool for motivating individual and organisation performance and creating behavioural norms that support the firm's strategy. These long-lasting, shared beliefs about how and why the organisation operates provide stability, shared learning and a unity of purpose. Long-lasting business cultures are reinforced and supported by the organisation's rewards and recognition processes as well as the myths and stories about past successes and employee heroes. The business' goals, values, vision, and strategy also reinforce the culture. The advantage of a strong culture is that it empowers employees and replaces management's dependence on administrative controls or sanctions such as policies, procedures, budgets and employee performance reviews.


A good example of the effectiveness of cultural versus administrative controls is the financial services industry. It is generally accepted that the large banks and their employees, who maximised short-term gains for their own advantage despite administrative controls, caused much of the current economic malaise. A comparison of the large, publicly traded banks and their family business peers demonstrates the impact of family cultures on performance.


Family-controlled banks such as Banco Santander, Julius Baer, C Hoare & Co, Pictet & Cie and Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch & Cie, have experienced fewer asset write-offs from the crisis and are strengthening their market positions. Their cultures, based on long-term performance and accountability, explain the stronger performance. They did not chase the quick profits as they prefer to plan and invest for the long-term. Their strong, family business cultures supported organisations where employees, management, directors and owners were all focused on building their business not their bonuses.




8. Be authentic leaders

Many business executives are facing their first deep recession and leading their firms in new ways is the most daunting career task they have faced. Critical to a leader's success is their ability to use themselves as a tool to influence and motivate others to learn new behaviours and perform at higher levels.


Authentic leadership is a concept that has many advantages to family business executives because it helps them appreciate the importance of both the technical dimensions of their work, such as planning a marketing campaign, and the human dimensions, such as developing more effective interpersonal relationships.


There are no formulas for authentic leadership because leadership is situational, based on the interaction of the leader's style, experiences and personality with the challenges his or her organisation faces. It is a personal activity that requires the leader to recognise how their values and behaviours can influence their followers to move beyond achieving business goals to building a more effective organisation.


The Agnelli family and Fiat are leveraging executive and family leadership to build long-term value. Fiat's non-family CEO Sergio Marchionne has done an excellent job of demonstrating authentic leadership behaviour through the company's acquisition of the bankrupt car manufacturer Chrysler. His empowering personal style is supporting the new Chrysler team in implementing a turnaround and new global business strategy.


John Elkann, vice-chairman of Fiat and a sixth generation of Fiat's founding Agnelli family, is leading on the family side to ensure that the owners are fully committed to a new global strategy for Fiat. The Agnelli family has always publicly supported the idea of consolidation, showing employees that Fiat has the ability to grow despite the tough economic climate. This helps lessen anxiety over the stability of the company and shows their ability to incorporate new business ideas in order to move forward.


Elkann's behind-the-scenes leadership demonstrates an important trait of authentic owner-leaders; they know their talents and roles. Elkann recognises that Marchionne has the industry knowledge and expertise to best implement the new strategy. Authentic owner-leaders resist the temptation to get involved in everything; instead they trust their managers to manage the firm. Authentic leaders support their managers, as Elkann did in June, and recognise their team's successes.


Authentic leaders also recognise the emotional impact of their leadership style on the firm and its stakeholders. Most families and their employees are experiencing anxiety about the economic crisis and it is the leader's responsibility to help contain and redirect these often-destructive emotions.


One tool family leaders can use is a new vision of how the business will succeed in the future. Leaders also need to be alert to their own fears and uncertainties to avoid slipping into a default command and control leadership mode rather than a more effective coach and control pattern that combines listening and learning with goals and accountability.


According to Napoleon Bonaparte: "A leader is a dealer in hope." If family business leaders can practise this simple idea in their interactions with employees, family members and stakeholders they will not only emerge from these challenging times with stronger organisations and more committed families, but the family business community around the world will once again assume its larger leadership role based on long-term performance, value driven leadership and stewardship.









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