Author: Jon Moore
I had the opportunity present at Family Business Magazine’s 2020 Transitions Conference this past November. Beyond my talk, the conference was a great opportunity to network with both other financial advisors as well as family business owners in multiple generational stages. It’s an endless journey to learn about the generational transition process and one that I enjoy thoroughly.
Since I found the conference so valuable, I wanted to share my thoughts about what I loved and what I learned.
What I Loved About FMB Transitions Conference
My initial thoughts when I heard the conference would be virtual was that it would not be as great as in-person. How can you network and connect on a personal level through a computer? The Family Business Magazine Team came up with a great solution with their speed dating-esque networking events though; where I spent time with different individuals in a one-on-one video meeting. Its quite a different feel meeting someone without the outside distractions and noise of a conference hall but instead in yours and their own office. A nice corollary to virtual conferences is that the technology is already in place to make all of the presentations available on demand. My own talk focused on protecting one’s assets during life’s transitional phases and is available here.
With that being said, I can’t wait to get back to in-person next year. The dynamic of meeting people face to face can’t be replaced and the nature of in-person, where groups organically coalesce around topics helps us make more out of the talks and breakouts.
What I Learned From FMB Transitions Conference
Like many things in life; clearly defining the goal and mission statement of an intergenerational plan is the first and most important step in the process. These clear statements should then be used as a reference in every decision going forward.
Two-way communication and respect between generations must take place on an even footing. The incoming family members will soon be in charge. This is a paradigm shift the current organizational leaders should recognize, accept, and respect. At the same time, the current generation has been in the business for years and has a depth of knowledge that they want to pass on; newcomers need to be good listeners and learners as the wealth of knowledge offered by the prior generation is passed on.
Generational planning is not a one and done process. As the business and family grows, the plan must be adapted. A succession plan can be called into action at any point in time and usually without much prior notice; the more up-to date and thorough a plan is, the smoother the business transition in a time that can also be one of grieving.
Family members often have varying levels of daily interaction with a family business; but want to be heard when market and political speculation introduce panic and worry. Listening to and processing all of these voices during an already difficult time can be a challenge. Especially since, when it comes to pure speculations, the best action is often inaction. Independent advisors and board members can be key to separating data from noise in these trying situations.
Families do not need to navigate generational planning alone; there are resources for every stage of the process. For example, Norma Williams, a Los Angeles real estate attorney, uses the Private Directors Association to help families appoint independent board members as well the Fiduciary Round Table of San Gabriel Valley to advise family members on their duties as board members.
If you have any feedback, takeaways, or questions about your own finances, feel free to contact me anytime.