Posts

Leading Family Firms at IVEY

This week I attended a two-day program in London Ontario, at the fantastic Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre. The course was put on by the Ivey Business Families Centre, which is run by David Simpson.

David has been running the “Leading Family Firms” program for 6 years, bringing in families who are in business together, and getting them to learn about, and start talking about, some of the important issues that so often get too little attention.

We had an eclectic mix of people in the room, including a couple of brothers who are part of a third-generation company along with some of their cousins; two brothers-in-law who work along with two of their other brothers-in-law; as well as a Mom & Dad, & Son team.

In addition, we had a father with his recently graduated Ivey daughter, who does not work in Dad’s business, but who has been helping guide him in many ways thanks to her Ivey degree, as well as a handful of current Ivey students who come from family businesses to which they will likely eventually return.

I never get tired of hearing people’s stories about working with their families. There are always similarities to other situations, but then there are huge differences too. But because of this, there is always something we can learn from others in this field. Some is “what to do”, and some is “what NOT to do”.

Simpson started off the first day by congratulating everyone who was there. He clearly recognized that making the effort to take two full days away from your business is not a step that everyone is prepared to make, but that he was happy that they had all taken a couple of days to work ON their businesses (and their families!) instead of IN their businesses.

The course itself is based on the Roadmap course put together by the Business Families Foundation, which includes a series of videos about the ficticious Dupont family, and the trials and tribulations they face in running their hotel business. The videos are a bit dated and over-acted, but they do a great job of depicting situations that participants can identify with, and thus are wonderful conversation starters.

And conversations are the single biggest key to most of the issues that business families face. Actually, maybe I should say that conversations that have not happended are often the source of most of the problems that arise in family businesses.

While I was doing the Family Enterprise Advisor program this year, we used many of the same videos, and covered a lot of the same topics. One thing I can attest to is that the people who live in a business family are much faster at learning this stuff than most advisors.

Simpson told me beforehand that he accelerates the material when teaching families because a slower pace just isn’t needed. Having gone through it with him now, I get his point. But he gets it because he has been involved on all sides in family business with his own family and as a teacher in the Entrepreneurship program at Ivey.

On Friday afternoon as we were wrapping up, each person was asked to commit to one or two things that they were going to do in the coming months. There seemed to have been lots of progress made over two short days, as people were committing to some key steps that they were planning on taking very soon, which otherwise might have been left to “someday”.

All in all, it was an interesting, fun, and educational program, and I am certain everyone who was there found it worthwhile.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Five Teens in a Cottage

Late August has always had a certain feel to it for me, but this year is different. Maybe it’s because we took an extra-long vacation in July, or because the weather has been really good, or maybe because we brought the dogs to the cottage so the place feels more like home now.

Or maybe it’s because instead of only worrying about two kids, we are now responsible for five teens for a couple of weeks!

Our kids have been curling for the past 3 winters, and last year we joined a new club. This got them to a more competitive level, which came with new teammates who have become good friends. Our cottage is within a 45-minute drive of one of the country’s top junior curling camps, featuring a couple of former world champions.

I thought it would be a great idea for our kids to attend the camp and take advantage of the opportunity to learn form some of the best. It seems some of the parents of their new friends also wanted to take advantage of that opportunity, and since we have a place not far away, of course they were all welcome to stay here with us.

I guess the one thing that I had not been mentally prepared for was now being the temporary “father” to 5 teenagers, rather that just our 2. My wife has been handling the “Mom” role in exemplary fashion, to no one’s surprise.

We geared up for the arrival of the extra bodies by adding a camper where the three girls sleep, and the two boys are in the kids’ room. The kitchen, living and dining rooms are just big enough to handle the load. The fridge and pantry are well stocked, the WiFi works pretty well, and I can easily control access to it by shutting the unit down at night.

But the parenting is exhausting. They are not bad kids, they are actually very good kids, all of them. But they are all so different. And so each one of them needs to be handled in their own special way. Handling them one-on-one and as a group is completely different too.

But as mentally draining as it is, I love the experience because there is so much to learn, and along with that, so much to teach too.

I love to take the time to explain things to my kids, on whatever subject comes up on any given day. It could be something we see on TV, something one of us comes across on the internet, or something that happened at school that day. I often start with “Do you understand why such-and-such is that way?” or “Do you understand what so-and-so meant when they said that?”

With three extra people around the opportunities to explain things multiplies.

Probably the best part of the arrangement is that our kids are learning how other kids don’t have it quite so easy as they do in life. I like to think that they appreciate what we have and how their parents treat them. They are very lucky, and we are lucky to have them too.

I often preach about communication and how important it is to family relationships. I also like to think that I am a living, breathing example of what I preach. I hope my kids agree. Please don’t forget, it’s not just what you say, how you say it is usually more important.

After this, if they end up being better curlers, that will be a bonus.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.
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Les expériences partagées comme point en commun

Je suis revenu de belles vacances cette semaine, après avoir passé presque trois semaines au Brésil avec ma famille. Comme de raison, les gens que je rencontre me posent tous la même question, soit, “Puis, comment ça a été?”

Après la première réponse, qui fut toujours “fantastique” ou une autre adjectif semblable, je suis porté à ajouter que c’est les expériences partagées que nous avons vécues ensemble qui seront les plus beaux souvenirs pour moi. Évidemment, j’espère que ça sera pareil pour mes enfants.

Ça me rappelle d’autres vacances que nous avons prises ensemble au fil des années, mais, que les enfants semblent avoir oubliées en grande partie. Maintenant agés de 12 et 13 ans, je crois que les souvenirs seront gravés un peu plus profondémment.

Nous avons vécu des moments inespérés de l’Amazonie jusqu’aux chutes d’Iguaçu, en passant par Sao Paulo et Rio, en plus de plusieurs plages et parcs nationaux. Plus qu’une semaine avec une famille d’amis Brésiliens, des matchs de futbol avec des foules électrisantes, en plus de beaucoup d’animaux sauvages qu’on ne voit pas chez nous.

Mais ça sera surtout les petits moments entre nous qui resteront avec moi à long terme.

Les expériences que nous vivons et que d’autres ont déjà vécu peuvent aussi servir de point commun, même quand nous ne les vivons pas ensemble ou au même moment. Je parle ici de gens qui nous rencontrons, et que par la suite on apprend que nous avons étudié à la même école, ou qui ont joué dans une même équipe, ou qui ont vécu une certaine expérience.

J’ai eu le malheur d’avoir petit accident de voiture il y a une quinzaine d’années. En sortant de nos autos, j’ai fait une échange de carte d’affaires avec l’autre conducteur. Il a regardé ma carte et m’a demandé, “MBA? Quelle école?” Je lui dit “Western” (Maintenant connu comme Ivey). “Moi aussi”, il répond. Avec ça, nous étions sur la même longueur d’ondes, et il m’a dit que s’il y avait des dommages, il m’appellerait.

Je me rappelle d’avoir lu une histoire sur Pat Burns, coach de hockey. Il n’avait pas un agent comme les autres, il faisait confiance à son cousin, Robin Burns, ex joueur de la LNH, mais aussi un homme d’affaires avec beaucoup de succès et très respecté.

Après avoir conclu une entente entre Pat et les Bruins, le négociateur de l’équipe avait demandé à Robin, “Where did you go to law school?”, en présumant que lui aussi était avocat de profession. C’est un exemple qui démontre que la façon dont on agit peut créer l’illusion que nous avons vécu une expérience semblable, avec un résultat positif.

Quand on parle de familles en affaires, un point contentieux peut se développer entre les membres de la famille qui travaillent dans l’entreprise et ceux qui ne sont pas employé. C’est souvent à cause du manque d’expériences partagées que les problèmes surviennent.

Voilà l’importance de la communication, et même de faire certain de planifier des activités pour toute la famille pour servir de point commun et d’expériences partagées. Il s’agit d’un bon début pour débuter des discussions et d’encourager la communication entre tous les membres de la famille.

Denièrement, j’aimerais souligner que quand les gens qui travaillent dans une entreprises familiales ont la chance de s’entretenir avec des conseillers qui ont eux aussi déjà travailler au sein d’une compagnie familiale, le fait d’avoir vécu des experiences semblables peut aussi aider à mener à un niveau de compréhension plus profond, plus rapidement.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Lost in the Woods, without a Guide

In a strange set of coincidences, this turned out to be “University Week” for me. I am writing this in Lewisburg Pennsylvania, home of Bucknell University.

I am here mostly as chauffeur for my mother, who today witnessed the first University graduation of one of her grandchildren. I also got to watch my niece walk across the stage and pick up that diploma that she worked towards these past four years.

Listening to speeches always gets me thinking, and today a lot of time was spent praising the faculty. I guess that every school thinks that they have great teachers, but they sure did a great job of making a believer out of me here today.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting some important people from the business schools of a few of the Montreal-based Universities.

As a participant in the FEA Program in Toronto this year (given by UBC’s Sauder Business Families Centre) I am interested in helping the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (IFEA) expand their reach across Canada, as they look for the right education partners.

I had offered their new President any help I could with the search for Quebec partner(s). This week she was in Montreal, and I met with her and people from HEC, McGill, and Concordia.

Now most of the talks were only in their very early stages and it is way too early to say what if anything may develop as a result. But for me it was an opportunity to talk about (okay, I was mostly listening) programs, courses, instructors, designations, etc.

The instructors that we have had in the FEAP course modules that I have had thus far have all been excellent and inspirational. Being involved in the IFEA meeting in Montreal also got me pumped up even more about the program and the ways I expect that it will evolve and help business families in the future.

Coming to the Commencement this weekend at Bucknell was a further catalyst for me personally, as I heard a few professors talk about how inspired they are when they teach. Knowing that my newly-graduated niece is going into teaching (and we all just know that she will be fantastic at it) also has me thinking more and more about this subject.

We have all heard the expression, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”. Sometimes it is true. But most of the time it is full of crap. The best teachers have of course already DONE. And now they are teaching others.

I have been married for 20 years. My wife knows me pretty well. She often used to tell me that I should write a book. Well I now write a weekly blog. She also often tells me that I should be a teacher. I have always agreed with her that it would be interesting and I believe I would be pretty good at it.

But until now, I never really had anything for which I had enough passion to teach. If you have followed my recent posts, you will know that I am slowly (or maybe quickly) discovering that family business is my passion.

I have lived it, I understand it, from all the angles. I know that it is complex and that there are many issues that need to be discussed, and that often those issues are not discussed.

Teaching, and family business. Time to figure out how to put it all together. Stay tuned. If you have any ideas, I am all ears.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Those Who CAN, Teach

In a strange set of coincidences, this turned out to be “University Week” for me. I am writing this in Lewisburg Pennsylvania, home of Bucknell University.

I am here mostly as chauffeur for my mother, who today witnessed the first University graduation of one of her grandchildren. I also got to watch my niece walk across the stage and pick up that diploma that she worked towards these past four years.

Listening to speeches always gets me thinking, and today a lot of time was spent praising the faculty. I guess that every school thinks that they have great teachers, but they sure did a great job of making a believer out of me here today.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting some important people from the business schools of a few of the Montreal-based Universities.

As a participant in the FEA Program in Toronto this year (given by UBC’s Sauder Business Families Centre) I am interested in helping the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (IFEA) expand their reach across Canada, as they look for the right education partners.

I had offered their new President any help I could with the search for Quebec partner(s). This week she was in Montreal, and I met with her and people from HEC, McGill, and Concordia.

Now most of the talks were only in their very early stages and it is way too early to say what if anything may develop as a result. But for me it was an opportunity to talk about (okay, I was mostly listening) programs, courses, instructors, designations, etc.

The instructors that we have had in the FEAP course modules that I have had thus far have all been excellent and inspirational. Being involved in the IFEA meeting in Montreal also got me pumped up even more about the program and the ways I expect that it will evolve and help business families in the future.

Coming to the Commencement this weekend at Bucknell was a further catalyst for me personally, as I heard a few professors talk about how inspired they are when they teach. Knowing that my newly-graduated niece is going into teaching (and we all just know that she will be fantastic at it) also has me thinking more and more about this subject.

We have all heard the expression, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach”. Sometimes it is true. But most of the time it is full of crap. The best teachers have of course already DONE. And now they are teaching others.

I have been married for 20 years. My wife knows me pretty well. She often used to tell me that I should write a book. Well I now write a weekly blog. She also often tells me that I should be a teacher. I have always agreed with her that it would be interesting and I believe I would be pretty good at it.

But until now, I never really had anything for which I had enough passion to teach. If you have followed my recent posts, you will know that I am slowly (or maybe quickly) discovering that family business is my passion.

I have lived it, I understand it, from all the angles. I know that it is complex and that there are many issues that need to be discussed, and that often those issues are not discussed.

Teaching, and family business. Time to figure out how to put it all together. Stay tuned. If you have any ideas, I am all ears.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Blame it on Cinderella

This week I attended the CFA Institute’s Wealth Management conference in Boston. It’s an annual event that will be in L.A. next year, but since this time it was so close to Montreal, I figured it was worth the five-hour drive to hear the great speakers they had lined up.

The conference was really good in so many ways, and I was having trouble deciding which of the 12 presentations I would use as the inspiration for this week’s blog.

As I was driving home through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont, something happened that made me push the conference topics to the back burner.

It wasn’t something that I saw though. It was something that I heard, on the radio.  When I have a long drive I always worry about falling asleep at the wheel, although it is much less of a problem for me lately, since I started sleeping better every night thanks to my CPAP machine.

To make sure that I stay awake while driving, I have a strong preference for talk radio. My wife and kids can’t stand talk radio, but I was alone, so it was a great chance to catch up on what Rush Limbaugh and the like were talking about on the US airwaves.

But when you are driving through the mountains and trying to listen to the radio, staying on any one station for more than 15 minutes is often a challenge. So what ends up happening is that every few minutes, I just hit the search button until something comes in with a strong enough signal.

Now besides talk radio, the other thing that usually keeps me awake is country music. I can’t say that I am a huge fan, but I have very eclectic tastes in music, and with country music the lyrics are usually such that you can sing along to any song even though you have never heard it before.

It’s hard to fall asleep when you are singing. And given the choice between listening to talk radio or listening to me sing in the car, I can tell you that my family would likely learn to LOVE talk radio. But I was alone, so country music it would be, at least for a song or two.

That was when Stealing Cinderella came on. I thought I recognized the singer’s voice, but it turns out that he just sounded like most other country singers, and I couldn’t even tell you his name now without googling it. But the lyrics really got to me.

It’s about a guy going to his girlfriend’s father’s house to ask for permission to marry her. Do guys still do that? I don’t know, but a little over 20 years ago, I did it. So the song brought back instant memories, especially the reaction I got from my father-in-law, who wished me luck but (wrongly) assumed that his daughter was not the marrying type.

But then the song goes on to describe the family photos that are placed all over the living room, including many of the little girl as she was growing up, riding her first bike, jumping on the bed, and of course playing Cinderella.

Now it was the heartstrings of the father of the 11-year-old daughter that were being tugged on. Yikes, where the heck did the time go?
In 30 seconds I went from reliving the experience of asking for the go-ahead to marry one man’s “Cinderella”, to fast-forwarding who knows how many years to some guy coming by and trying to steal MY Cinderella.

I know, she’s only 11, but ten years ago she was 1 and it feels like it was yesterday. And in ten years she will be 21 and who knows what future awaits her.

Too much to think about. Better stay off the Country Music stations and stick to talk radio.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.

Is this what you were looking for? Part 2

Qualities

Last week we looked at the kinds of services that a multi-family office can provide for families that have significant wealth and the complexities that inevitably come along with that wealth.

This week, we will look at the qualities of the people who typically work in a multi-family office, and try to contrast those qualities with those who earn their living in more traditional roles in the wealth management industry.

Let’s start with group of adjectives that should apply to anyone that you would hire for just about any task: responsive, reliable, honest and sharp. This is pretty basic stuff here, and anyone who is missing any of these qualities will not last long in this or any field.

Now we will add collaborative, loyal, understanding and proactive. These go into the kind of relationship that the family should be looking for, which often require a deeper level of working together and the attitude they would expect from their advisors.

A family looking into working with a multi-family office should also be concerned with the following: transparency, integrity, judgment and empathy.  The professionals you want to deal with when looking after your family wealth need to have all of these attributes in order to be successful and provide the kind of service that is required at this level.

Many of the qualities that I have listed thus far could be considered “motherhood” statements, but I think that they are still important considerations. But now we will kick it up a notch and look at things that become truly important in a family wealth context, and areas where traditional wealth managers may fall short.

Knowing what the head of the family wants without being told (reading their mind) is something I have heard stated a few times. Acting like a part of the family even when you are unrelated, putting the client’s needs before your own, and being ahead of them when thinking through multi-generational issues, are also the kinds of attributes one should look for.

The last batch of qualities I want to bring up are part of the high standards of ethics and professionalism people should look for. Independence of thought and treating the family wealth in the same way they would their own should be part of the picture too.

The most successful family office pros value the process over any product, and the service over any sale.

I believe that wealth owners owe it to themselves and their families to have their family wealth treated in a comprehensive way, by objective advisors who take the time and make the effort to get to know them and their families.

If you have advisors on your side who have all the qualities we have looked at in this blog, you should consider yourself on the right track towards handling your family’s wealth needs for many years to come.

Steve Legler “gets” business families.
 
He understands the issues that families face, as well as how each family member sees things from their own viewpoint.
 
He specializes in helping business families navigate the difficult areas where the family and the business overlap, by listening to each person’s concerns and ideas.  He then helps the family work together to bridge gaps by building common goals, based on their shared values and vision.
 
His background in family business, his experience running his own family office, along with his education and training in coaching, facilitation, and mediation, make him uniquely suited to the role of advising business families and families of wealth.
 
He is the author of Shift your Family Business (2014), he received his MBA from the Richard  Ivey School of Business (UWO, 1991), is a CFA Charterholder (CFA Institute, 2002), a Family Enterprise Advisor (IFEA 2014), and has received the ACFBA and CFWA accreditations (Family Firm Institute 2014-2015).
 
He prides himself on his ability to help families create the harmony they need to support the legacy they want. To learn how, start by signing up for his monthly newsletter and weekly blogs here.