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Family Matters

Cultivating human capital, financial capital and innovation across generations in family businesses

Collage of multi-generational families

All growing businesses face challenges as they build from their entrepreneurial beginnings — whether they are global conglomerates or successful local companies. Family business owners who wish to retain control through the generations face a distinct set of challenges and opportunities.

Only about 30% of family businesses survive into the second generation. When the third generation comes around, only 12% of business are still viable. And only 3% of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond.1

Any business evolution requires early and frequent planning, which is more important if the goal is to keep it in the family. 

Katy Knox President, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Wealth Management

The Family Matters whitepaper is a resource designed to help family business leaders focus on the transition of their business to the next generation. We are grateful to the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business for their partnership on this paper that drills into the issues of intergenerational transfer and offers insights into what family business owners should think about as they work to create sustainable businesses and plan for the future.

The paper starts with four case studies, which highlight the journeys of family business leaders as they transition their family businesses. These real-life cases span first to fifth generation businesses, offer important lessons and cover a range of industries and locales.

“At the end of the day, my decisions are about preserving 125 years of family legacy, wealth and reputation... ” 

-Lawrence Gray
GrayCo

“The key to successfully passing down a business through a family is to not presume that it will happen.”

-Jim and Joe Bright
Dunk & Bright Furniture

“There is no need to share bloodlines to be part of Ground Control’s culture and family.”

-Kim and Simon Morrish
Ground Control

“ …the board advised me that the biggest job now is to find your successor and provide for the future.”

-Macon Brock
Dollar Tree

In addition to the case studies, the whitepaper dives deep into the three areas that most family business owners grapple with, which are:

HUMAN CAPITAL

The successful preservation of family values in the business culture hinges on how leadership deals with the valuable asset of human capital. This section addresses how to develop the next generation, the importance of family values and taking a stewardship approach, and the need for effective communication.

FINANCIAL CAPITAL

Though financial conversations are sometimes difficult, having them is incredibly important. Creating a family constitution can clarify the future by setting a roadmap for the eventual transfer of wealth and a family’s approach to investment and philanthropy.

INNOVATION

Unprecedented technological advances are accelerating the need for all businesses — not just family-owned businesses — to become technology-enabled, hyper-learning communities. This section recommends four critical business transformations that companies should consider to get — and stay — ahead.

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