Question: There is a lot of tension and conflict in my family. It’s prevented us from being able to resolve our issues for a very long time. How will you help us to overcome this immediate blocker?
Answer: You’re not alone. We design a tailored response to each family’s dynamics that ensures everybody’s ability to safely and optimistically engage in the working out process. This often requires the use of facilitators, mediators, psychologists and/or coaches, at the outset, to focus on family dynamics. Their advanced skills and strategies for defusing family business conflict and securing willing participation in the process is quite unique.
One of our major points of difference from other advisers is our consultants’ willingness to bring these specialists in to work their magic before commencing work on any other aspect of the process.
Preparation for participation
Question: Our family contains a difficult mix of domineering and submissive personalities. How do you get everybody participating in a way that feels safe and fair?
Answer: You’re not alone. Many, if not most, families in business are where they are (in many ways!) because they are, or have been driven by a dominating entrepreneur. These people are often at least as hard on their families as they are on the business as they are on the staff, and it can create an enormous gulf between family members. Our consultants are used to dealing with these situations and facilitate meetings where they restrain the dominators and encourage the subordinate members to participate together in the arena. We will often use tools such as Hogan or Disc or Myers Briggs personality assessments to help family members gain both greater self awareness and appreciation of the different styles of different members of the family. We often provide training and coaching in communication, problem solving and decision making, handling difficult conversations, building trust etc.
The FBCN difference
Question: Before coming to FBCN we had many conversations with lawyers, accountants, financial planners, other advisers, friends and family about how best to deal with our issues. Is your approach really all that different, and how do we know it will be appropriate and effective?
Answer: Every one of our consultants has a wealth of experience in conventional advisory practice. FBCN was formed as a result of many discussisons about the limitations of traditional professional practice, which tends to place technical expertise over client needs.
Family businesses are a complex mix of emotional, commercial, legal and financial concerns. No one profession, and no single adviser, can possibly cover more than a proportion of each family’s needs.
Membership of FBCN is by invitation only. Each existing member can only propose new members if they are people he knows and admires and provided they’re quite certain they’ll collaborate with other network professionals (and others, if required) to produce best possible results for clients.
Because every FBCN assignment is by definition collaborative, the service and support each client receives is always subject to scrutiny by at least two independent consultants. This helps to ensure that our clients receive great service at all times.
Question: How much do FBCN services cost and how competitive are your costs compared to market rates?
Answer: We are all highly trained and experienced professionals who have gone above and beyond the limitations of our original professions specifically to provide superlative services to family businesses. Although we’re nothing like as expensive as the largest professional firms, we believe we deliver excellent value at around the cost of a second-tier professional firm.
When engaged on long term projects (eg an entire succession process), we work on retainers that increase both flexibility and value.
Wherever possible, we provide fixed fee estimates for identifiable tasks and processes. This gives clients certainty and makes us accuontable for our own efficiency (in other words, we reject the notion that the slower we produce results, the more we get paid!).
Certainty and commitment
Question: This whole thing is really difficult for us and we want to be very confident before committing to anything that could go horribly wrong. How do you give us the confidence we need to make a commitment to your process?
Answer: You’re not alone. We understand exactly where you’re coming from and wouldn’t dream of asking you to commit to us, nor will we commit to you, before we’re both reasonably confident that we can do what you want us to do. We frequently have initial conversations over a coffee or two, without any obligation, so we can all ensure that the chemistry is right.
Many family business assignments relate to succession, which naturally lends itself to a project-based approach. Whenever we can, we work in short, clearly defined stages, so nobody is locked into anything until they’re reasonably comfortable that it’s the right thing to do.