Last week I attended the annual conference of Attorneys for Family Held Enterprises (AFHE). While there, I had the opportunity to hear speakers from a range of professional disciplines: family business advisors, financial planners, psychologists and attorneys.
I was particularly impressed by the clarity of the presentation entitled ‘Engaged Ownership. More Effective Governance for Multi-Generational Family Businesses’ given by Amelia Renkert-Thomas, former CEO of Ironrock Inc., her family’s 5th generation manufacturing business and founding partner of Renkert Thomas Consulting LLC.
In her presentation Ms. Renkert outlines commonly held assumptions about family business and counters them with realities. Here are selected bullet points taken from her slides:
- Making money is the primary objective
- Succession is about who will run the company
- Shareholders are primarily interested in dividends
- Continuity is the preferred outcome
- There is more at stake than money
- Succession is about preparing for multiple roles
- Shareholders are primarily interested in shared purpose and vision
- Continuity of core capital, not necessarily the business
All of these points are ‘tip-of-the-iceberg’ statements, the results of study, thought and experience. They invite investigation, discussion and action. What are your thoughts?