For many families, the way to get started is to focus on a specific goal in an area that is likely to be non-contentious. For example, most families at the stage of employing non family in senior management positions would see the benefit of having a policy covering "Employing and Remunerating Non Family" and few could question the wisdom of improving "Communication" or clarifying the "Role of the Board".
Listed below are topics that can form the basis of a piece of work to get a family started:
- Shared Purpose
- Return on Investment
- Ownership and Share Transfer
- Decisions reserved for Owners
- Elegant Exit
- Shareholders Assembly
- Family Assembly
- Employing & Remunerating Family
- Employing and Rewarding Non-family
- Dividend Policy
- Family Policies
- Role of the Board
- Family Constitution
- Next Generation (NXG) Development
- Growing Business Review
- Family Enterprise Health Check
Shared Purpose (“Glue”)
An agreed statement describing why the family want to remain in business together.
Return on Investment (ROI)
A policy specifying the overall ROI in a family business that identifies and balances financial returns with the “other “ returns that the family want to achieve (family careers, benefit to the community, maintaining a legacy etc).
Ownership and Share Transfer
A policy governing who can be an owner (eg spouses, blood line only, non-family etc), the rights and responsibilities attached to ownership and dealing with the transfer of ownership, including setting a price and the rules for voluntary, compulsory and permitted transfers.
Decisions reserved for Owners
A policy identifying decisions that can only be made by owners and which are not delegated to the Board, and how these decisions will be reached.
Providing impartial and objective advice and help in a situation (often emotionally charged) where family members want to sell their stake in the family enterprise.
As ownership expands over generations the need for help to establish more formal communication structures and processes and how to use them becomes a priority.
A policy constituting the Shareholders Assembly – a forum that all owners are entitled to attend to receive and review ownership information and possibly to make “Decisions reserved for Owners”.
A policy constituting the Family Assembly - a forum for family members usually for social, educational and sometimes formal purposes.
Employing & Remunerating Family
A policy governing recruitment, training, career development and remuneration of family members
Employing and Rewarding Non-family
A policy governing recruitment, training, career development and remuneration of non-family members (managing concerns over nepotism, considering alternatives to share options as an incentive etc).
In situations where there are working and non-working owners, a policy that balances objectively the needs of the business with the expectations of shareholders can be invaluable.
Polices governing areas of importance to the family; such as education, philanthropy, new ventures and media.
Role of the Board
Review the current role and effectiveness of the Board and make recommendations to enhance its performance. Areas covered may include clarifying the difference between ownership and governance, membership of the board (including the role of non-execs), remit of board committees, schedule of matters reserved for the Board’s decision.
A flexible document that can record the overall governance of a family business including the individual policies separately identified above.
Next Generation (NXG) Development
Educate the NXG to have a better understanding of the family business system of which they are a part and to ensure that they are well prepared to consider a career in the family business and / or be a responsible owner.
Help for individuals in a family business to work towards achieving their life aspirations and to discover whether a role in the family business will suit their own strengths and ambitions. Can be as an informal sounding board or a planned partnership that is focused on helping clients to reach set goals over a specific period (e.g. retirement; deciding whether or not to join the family business).
Growing Business Review
As a company develops, grows and matures, it is inevitable that the way in which the organisation is structured, managed, governed and financed needs to change. Recognising this and then tackling it is challenging for any company – for family businesses, the added complexity of family ownership and governance makes the case for external facilitation almost a given.
Family Enterprise Health Check
A report that identifies and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of all the existing formal and informal governance structures and policies in the family business
FBS Services are designed to help create the structures and practices needed to achieve best practice in governance of a family business, whatever its economic activity, diversity, size or complexity. These services cover all dimensions of family business governance and apply the FBS Consulting Process, which gives clients peace of mind that a consistent and thorough approach is taken to whatever we are asked to do. Each client can choose to do as much or as little work as is possible and desirable at a particular time, knowing that any future activity will always integrate properly with the previous work.