Family ownership is the defining characteristic of family businesses, and the transfer of ownership interests is usually the most meaningful and challenging task in family enterprise continuity.
Many business families invest a significant amount of time and resources planning and implementing shareholder agreements, estate plans, buy and sell procedures, trust design, tax strategies, holding companies, and family protocols, with the hope that these mechanisms will protect wealth and at the same time preserve family financial security and harmony in the future.
While we strongly support the idea that formal agreements and legal structures are necessary for the successful continuity of a family enterprise, our experience has taught us that these tools are certainly not panaceas. All legal agreements depend, at the end of the day, on the good will and commitment of the people whose relationships they set out to support and norm. In ownership continuity as in all aspects of family enterprise, the key interventions focus simultaneously on structure and on the processes designed to enhance both capacity and trust.
In our consulting work on ownership transfer, we offer a series of services to help families make key decisions, from the early conceptualization of alternatives for future ownership models to the specifics of implementing ownership structures and policies.
- Facilitating family discussions of ownership alternatives
- Analyzing and integrating estate plans to accomplish succession goals
- Collaborating with the family’s legal and financial advisors to enact the necessary structures and agreements
- Designing and activating governance bodies for wealth transfer vehicles (e.g. trusts, family offices)
- Educating family members on responsibilities of ownership
- Considering the role of philanthropy in ownership planning
Our role is to advise in our area of expertise, help coordinate other professionals, and guide the integration of the ownership transfer work with all the other components of continuity, including governance design, business oversight, and family development.