Family Enterprise Consulting Services 

Helping family enterprises flourish

The Deloitte Family Enterprise Consulting team works with family enterprises to help them flourish across generations, both from a commercial and a relationship perspective.

We assist with succession planning, family governance and next generation education and development. We work with families to design family offices, develop family enterprise strategies and reach key decisions at critical points in their lifecycle.

Working with the family behind the enterprise

The focus of family enterprise consulting is not just the enterprise. We take a family enterprise ’systems’ view, which involves taking into account the three dimensions of ’family’, ’ownership, and ’enterprise’, and how they interrelate.

This means our approach is always to consider the family, their ownership and their enterprising activities in parallel. As well as taking the time to understand a family’s enterprise, we also take the time to understand their particular culture, dynamic and objectives. Rather than treating families like a typical corporation or investor, we take into account the family drivers and influences that are often as important as commercial and financial considerations.

In fact, the family enterprise team always starts with the family behind the enterprise, working with them to articulate their goals before translating these into structural or organizational changes.

Like their businesses and investments, the families behind enterprises come in all shapes and sizes as well. Our clients range from first-to-second generation family businesses grappling with the transition from being ‘entrepreneur-led’ to ‘sibling managed’, to companies controlled by multi-generational networks of cousins.

Our services include family enterprise succession planning, family office set-up and creation, next generation leadership development, and family governance creation and review.

Family governance creation and review

Family governance structures enable families to organize themselves effectively and guide a family’s relationship with their family business or family office. In our experience, well-designed (and properly implemented) family business governance structures set out boundaries, create clarity, and result in greater harmony between family members, a more focused business, and easier transitions between generations. In order to be effective, family governance must reflect the particular culture, dynamic and objectives of the family in question.

When families work together, the combination of a long term view coupled with a strong foundation of trust can be a fantastic source of competitive advantage. However, family enterprises also face unique challenges, and leaving questions such as the following unanswered can destabilize even the most successful family enterprises:

  • How can I work with my brothers and sisters when we are all so different?
  • Will dad ever retire?
  • What should the role of shareholders be who do not work in the business?
  • How will my children become prepared to oversee their investments and advisors?
  • Who should be the next leader of the business? Does it need to be a family member?
  • How can we avoid family business conflict?
  • How can we continue to adapt and innovate whilst preserving our family values?

Consequently, getting ‘family governance’ right, i.e. getting the way in which a family works together and make decisions about their assets right, is crucially important. By providing clarity over things like decision-making, responsibilities, ownership privileges, and involvement in the enterprise, family governance aims to reduce the potential for conflict and poor decision-making, and allows families to flourish, making the most of their ‘family-ness’. Approaches to family governance all too often involve the implementation of ‘off-the-shelf’ structures however, with little regard given to the specifics of the family situation at play. It is imperative that family governance is sensitive to the dynamic, culture and objectives of the family in question, and is designed in harmony with the family’s unique situation and needs. We work with families large and small to design family governance structures that are right for them. This can involve working with families to set up family councils, boards of directors or other family business forums, developing employment and remuneration policies, and supporting families with defining the roles, responsibilities, rights and privileges of their various stakeholders. Once agreed, we then work with families to implement their decisions.

In addition, because we have helped so many families create successful governance structures, we are also often asked to review existing governance arrangements against best practice.

Whatever the assignment, we believe in documenting the agreements and decisions that a family makes. While not legally binding, a clear written family constitution / charter / set of protocols – based on an agreed vision and shared family values – prevents friction and doubt in decision-making by creating clarity of roles and responsibilities.

Our work on family governance typically involves:

  • Analyzing the needs of the family and enterprise
  • Taking a multi-generational approach
  • Designing a structure and set of policies that supports the family’s vision for the future
  • Reviewing existing governance arrangements against best practice
  • Facilitating constructive dialogue and frank discussion of key issues
  • Translating the outputs of governance discussions into written form

Key governance considerations

Make it purposeful. Effective family governance should be designed with reference to the vision of the family – it is a stepping stone to achieving the family’s objectives and goals.

Take it slow. Improving family governance should be a case of “evolution” rather than “revolution.” It takes time.

Keep it simple. The best governance system is the one that works, not necessarily the most complex.

Make it fit. Family governance should reflect the needs of the family that sits at the heart of it.

Do it together. To ensure alignment, the process of designing and implementing family governance should be inclusive.

Give it time. Improving family governance needs continued energy, commitment and dedication to make sure that decisions are properly implemented and the desired changes achieved.

Be flexible. Even the most well-intentioned plans sometimes need changing,

Family enterprise succession planning

We recognize that succession planning represents one of the biggest challenges for family enterprises. Determining both the future ownership and management of a family enterprise can be very sensitive, and a multitude of factors need to be taken into account. However, with the appropriate planning, communication, and inter-generational teamwork, family enterprise succession planning actually presents a tremendous opportunity for both the family and their enterprise to become stronger.

Our team works in close collaboration with families and facilitates discussions between key family members (and/or non-family members, as the case may be) in order to create succession plans that will enable a smooth transition.

From a leadership and management succession perspective, our work ranges from the creation of assessment and development processes for the appointment of key management positions, to working with “retiring” family members on articulating how their role and influence will develop over time. On the subject of ownership succession, we help families determine how ownership should evolve as the family grows, and what structures can best facilitate this.

As with all our family enterprise advice, the succession planning process needs to be carefully tailored to the specific situation, as while the principles are similar, personalities and circumstances vary greatly.

Next generation & leadership development

A key part of our practice with family enterprises is working with next generation family members to assist them in meeting their goals and aspirations, as well as contributing to meeting the needs of the family and the enterprise.

Our work in this area is diverse and, as always, depends on the specifics of the case in question. Services range from providing one-to-one coaching to designing and delivering developmental workshops and meetings; we can even design bespoke development programs to take a whole ‘cohort’ of a family’s next generation through training and development activities tailored to meet their specific needs and that of their family enterprise.

Key Contact

Michelle Osry

Michelle Osry

Partner, Family Business Advisory

Michelle leads our Canadian Business Family Advisory and BC Real Estate practices. The Business Family Advisory practice focuses on family governance and constitutions, continuity and succession plann... More