Graham Burns and Adam Brown, of FWB Park Brown, recently hosted a round-table discussion over dinner in the Edinburgh office Boardroom. The purpose of the dinner was to bring together leaders of family businesses, in Scotland, where the discussion focussed broadly on the following areas:
- Family dynamics – challenges in succession and upsetting the ‘natural order’
- Family management and external appointments – recognising gaps and the right time to appoint a non-family member to either Executive or Non-Executive positions
- Culture of the family owned business in Scotland – protection of value vs growth. Does the weight of responsibility allow for innovation?
Much of the discussion centred around succession. We talked about some of the difficult conversations that need to take place and the widely held belief that before family members do join, it is extremely valuable for that person to have spent time in at least one other business. Family involvement can range significantly, from employee and Senior Executive to the much more passive, and sometimes distant, shareholder. Those wishing to join the business, or progress to Senior Executive, should not view this as a rite of passage and their development needs to be carefully managed. Equally, shareholders who are less involved in the business need to be influenced in order to understand and approve various investments and strategic changes in direction that the business must make.
We also discussed at length the value of bringing in Non-Executives from outside the immediate network of the business and the undoubtable benefits that this can bring, once the natural reluctance to appoint non-family leadership has been overcome.
For further details on future family business dinners, or to explore some of the work that we do with family businesses, please contact Graham or Adam on 0131 539 7087