Pearls of wisdom
In the course of the research, we asked interviewees what lessons they would pass on to other families progressing through succession and wealth management issues. The following are the key pearls of wisdom they highlighted:
- Transitions are complicated: Whether selling a business, setting up a foundation or passing control of wealth to the next generation, families should ask themselves ‘why are we doing this?' at each transitional stage to find the common objectives that keep them and the family wealth intact.
- Take your time: as a collection of individuals, and not an organisation, family businesses require a unique leadership style which should involve listening, learning, observing, sharing and understanding.
- Leading with principle: Wealth ownership means that attention is trained on you. Family business heads should lead by example and the wider community will view wealth ownership with greater respect when it is used as a force for positive social change.
- Recognise your limits: Within a family business there are many roles to play; no single person can play them all well. Once skills, strengths and motivations are accurately assessed (including one's own), other family members and professional advisors can be effectively appointed to fill the gaps.
- Giving the next generation just enough: Each generation should be able to think of themselves as the first generation. This means that those in the next generation are given everything they need to be successful and no more. For those in older generations, this also means recognising when to step aside.