Why do family businesses need help?
Over time, with the involvement of succeeding generations, family businesses have a natural tendency to become more complex and more challenging to manage and govern. For example, when a number of siblings are involved at a senior level in a second generation family business, the decision making process that will work for them is likely to be radically different to that used by the previous owner manager. However , in many cases where both generations remain involved in the business, the changes needed to the way in which decisions are made is never even discussed let alone introduced , resulting in ever increasing levels of confusion, misunderstanding and frustration. Even when the family are aware of the problems, the perceived emotional risks associated with tackling them often outweigh the potential benefits to be gained and so nothing is done.
Where can business families get help?
Although a family’s lawyer or accountant may be well placed to alert the family to the issues that need to be addressed, in most cases, and particularly when relationships are under pressure, they are not best placed or equipped to provide the practical help and support that the family need. This is because they will almost certainly
- Lack the range of skills required for family business consulting
- Not have any real depth of understanding of the pressures on a business brought about by the involvement of family
- Be unable to act as an independent advisor to all the family because of potential conflicts of interest (lawyers unable to advise more than one family member) or simply being seen as “Dad’s accountant”.
On the other hand, a family business consultant is not subject to the same rules on conflicts of interest and can therefore work with the whole family. In addition a family business consultant is unlikely to have had previous involvement with the family or be seeking a long term relationship with the family, so can offer truly independent and impartial assistance.
Family Business Consulting
Although perhaps better understood in other parts of the world such as the USA where it has been around for longer, awareness of Family Business Consulting as a specialist service to families in business has been growing steadily since it was pioneered by FBS in the 1990s.
Assisting families requires skills and experience that can only be acquired through
- Years of study and the development of a range of practical skills such as Listening, Facilitation, Consensus Reaching, Mediation etc
- Working with families and taking them through the issues that, although arising from circumstances common to families in general, impact in ways that are unique to each family.
FBS – Brief History
FBS was established in the UK in 1996 by two of the world’s leading practitioners in the field of family business consulting, Ken McCracken and Barbara Murray. The consulting framework and process that they developed is unique to FBS and ensures that our services are delivered consistently and cost effectively and in a way that feels “safe” for families.
In a relatively short space of time, FBS has grown rapidly to become the leading specialist family business consultancy in the UK.
FBS is recognised internationally as a leader in the field . Consequently FBS consultants regularly publish articles on family business issues and are much sought after as speakers at conferences and trade association meetings.