When someone is acting in a play, they spend hours and hours reviewing lines, doing dress rehearsals, and even have an understudy who can back them up in case of any emergencies. Similarly, when athletes prepare to compete in a sporting event, they spend countless hours training, practicing skills, plays, and building team trust in order to ensure optimal performance when the “big day” comes. As parents, I think that we intrinsically understand the efforts required to achieve in these areas. Rarely does someone perform well without any training or practice at their craft or sport.
When it comes to family business or family wealth transition, a similar rigour needs to go into the preparation and process around these discussions. The best forum we have found for this type of discussion is having family meetings.
Family meetings can be as simple as parents with young children having an intentional time where the family shares what is going on in each of their lives, any concerns they need to address, and how they can do better. In his book, The Secrets of Happy Families, Bruce Feiler gives some guidelines for starting this process with young children, even suggesting that they create their own chore lists and consequences.
Family meetings can also look like 75+ family members all convening through conference calls from all over the planet for the annual family meeting where specific agenda items will be presented, discussed and decisions made.
Whatever stage your family is at, we believe that family meetings provide a forum for families to become intentional about sharing information, creating a framework for decision-making, and for asking how they can do better.
The most effective meetings have an agenda, and someone who is leading the meeting. We encourage families who want to start moving along the path of creating purposeful discussions about wealth transition to have an outside facilitator. This person can help ensure that communication is respectful, stays on topic, and that family members find value in the process of meeting.
Nicky Scott, BComm, CHRP, FEA
Canadian Family Financial
Nicky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org