7 Reasons To Invest In Your Family Platform

The value of a family platform for business families and family offices.

This white paper is based on our exhaustive work with our global business-owning families over the last 10 years. This gives an insight into the learning experienced and thought leadership created during our client projects. We hope you get the same benefit as our 100 global family clients.

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Introduction

Many of you are familiar with the statement “Once you have seen one family, you have seen one family.”

Even if every family is unique, we believe that most business families and their offices face similar challenges.

• The family gets more complex

• The family members spread out over different cities, sometimes even countries

• Families need to share and store sensitive documents

• Family offices need to communicate digitally with their family clients

• Fewer family members have an active role in the original business that created the family wealth

• The next generation grows up with different educational backgrounds, skills and interests

• The ownership stakes start to vary

The above illustrates that the more you advance in the generations, the more difficult it becomes to manage the family. It is estimated that only 10% of business families manage to keep the family business and/or the family wealth together for more than 3 generations, which highlights that many families underinvest in the management of their family, versus in the management of their business(es) or investments.

Researchers Williams and Pressier have shown that:

• In 60% of the cases this is due to lack of communication in the family

• In 25% of the cases this is due to lack of education and preparation of the next generation Trusted Family was founded by 2 next generation members of business-owning families (Solvay & Aliaxis) in order to help them manage their family and shareholder communications. They built a secure family for their own use, and realized many other family businesses and family offices around the world shared the same needs.

This gives us a deep understanding of the typical challenges facing family businesses and family offices and puts us in a unique position to address them.

We work with the world's leading business families and their private family offices globally.

Why a family or family office platform?  

Family and family office platforms are typically used to enhance one or multiple of the following 7 activities:

1. SHAREHOLDER AND FAMILY MEMBER MANAGEMENT

• Where do you store your family and shareholder contact details?

• Do you have up to date email addresses?

• Can you view their details in one secure place?

The first stage in developing your family platform is to source all family and shareholder contact information, create a centralized database, ensure all contact details are up to date, build a personal profile on each one, get up to date photos, make sure you have birthdays, education history, work experience, personal interests. Once done, this gives you a great starting point to manage your communications and shareholder/family community. Naturally, the more information you have, the more updated it is and the easier it is to access, hence the more effective your communications will be.

2. COMMUNICATION

Given that communication is key for long-term family, family business and family office success, family platforms are a great way to facilitate:

• Communication between family office staff and family members. Family platforms, when set up correctly, offer additional security than other communication channels such as email. In addition, they allow you to create more transparency in your communication, to archive and to organize them in a more structured way

• Shareholder communication from the family business(es) to the family

• Family to family communication.

3. DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT AND ARCHIVING

In today’s complex and global world, the number of documents family members and family office or family business staff members need to manage increases every day.

Family platforms can help you to: 

• Make documents available to the right people at the right time, through flexible permission based systems

• Share sensitive documents more securely than through email

• Organize and archive documents in shared folders, so that authorized people have access to the latest version of important files

• Systemize document retention and record-keeping for the long term, so that you can always go back in history to know what was decided when, for example.

4. FAMILY, BOARD AND SHAREHOLDER GOVERNANCE

As families grow from one generation to another, many families set up family councils, family boards, investment committees, shareholder councils, communications committees, working groups, etc...

Family platforms can enable each of these groups to:

• Schedule and arrange meetings

• Share minutes of meetings

• Collaborate online on working documents, to-dos, etc...

• Archive the key decisions that they take

• Centralize all communication in a portal, but maintain separate groups and permissions

5. FAMILY AND BUSINESS EDUCATION

In a world full of opportunities, it is increasingly important that you successfully educate your shareholders and family members about the value of your business and the opportunities it presents.

Bringing everyone together in one room can often be challenging, especially if a certain next generation member study abroad or if the family is geographically dispersed. 

Families can reinforce and complement their in-person education initiatives by setting up a platform and:

• Posting regular training and educational videos that people can watch remotely

• Organizing virtual training sessions through webinar technologies and posting recordings on their platform

• Building an online education library with key resources and materials that family members can access at any time to develop their knowledge and skills

• Educate the family about their business by creating engaging media and making available to all via your family platform

6. FAMILY LEGACY AND HERITAGE

Many families struggle to keep family members interested in the business or close to other family members, to maintain family values over generations or to build unity while respecting family diversity.

Family platforms can be used to:

• Share and document family history and values

• Maintain a live and interactive family tree so that family members can more easily connect to the family and understand who is who 

• Create interaction between family members that may not necessarily know one another very well

• Digitize your legacy, bring it to life, share it with your family and shareholders, encourage them to learn their history and start supplying their stories

7. REPORT, MANAGE AND UNDERSTAND

Every family or family office often appoints one or more individuals who are responsible for maintaining the family member database, organizing family meetings, get family and shareholder feedback and input into documents, decisions, to attend meetings, to confirm agreements, this can become increasingly time-consuming and involves using multiple solutions.

Family platforms can automate and simplify these tasks by:

• Automating event scheduling and organization with online invitations and reply forms

• Centralizing the family member database and enabling family members to update their data immediately In addition to the above, platforms can also offer detailed metrics on family members’ activity and engagement, which is an invaluable source of feedback for the family council or board.

Family platforms can help you track and report by:

• Showing who has read documents

• Who has replied to meeting invitations

• Who has viewed or commented

• Who has logged in and how often

They enable you to gain a clear understanding of what communications work, what interests your shareholders and family groups and how to maintain family cooperation and engagement.

When does it make sense? 

The need for a family platform will depend from one family to another, but will, in most cases, increase along the following drivers:

• You have sensitive documents to share and store securely

• The number of family members / shareholders

• The age of the next generation

• The geographical spread of the family

• The day to day family involvement in the core business activities

• The number of family office staff or advisors

• The number of entities

• The number of governance bodies or workgroups

HOW EASY IS IT TO SET UP?

With the standardization of technology, the setup process for a family platform has become shorter and shorter. Once a decision has been taken by the family to move forward you can typically be up and running in 1 to 3 months if you opt for an outsourced solution. Building a platform in-house can be a lot longer depending on the scope of the project. A new family platform is often a great initiative to be introduced during a family or shareholder meeting. Every family member can come with their laptop, phone or tablet and receive live training.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE SOLUTION THAT SUITS YOUR NEEDS?

Once you are ready to start on the journey of evaluating a family platform, we recommend that you follow this simple step by step methodology:

• Appoint a family member or staff member responsible for the project

• Make a short profile of your family, business & office and specify how you currently perform the 7 activities mentioned earlier.

- Shareholder And Family Member Management

- Communication

- Document Management And Archiving

- Family, Board And Shareholder Governance

- Family And Business Education

- Family Legacy And Heritage

- Report, Manage And Understand

• Identify the current and future challenges in your current way of working for the 7 activities above

• Validate the project goals

• Develop an ideal solution and list of requirements

• Validate which content you will share and who will have access to what information

• Select the most convenient technology platform that suits your needs, or write specifications if you are planning to build one from scratch

• Make a budget and estimate the different costs

• Define the project timing and milestones

• Present the project proposal and plan to your primary decision makers

Conclusion

We manage greater information flow, we need to track and understand what is happening around us, our family members, clients and shareholders demand more transparency, greater understanding and more access.

It’s important we take the time to assess how we best serve our family community, how we ensure access to documents, collaboration in projects, attendance at events, engagement about the business and the family. In today’s information age, globalized and increasingly mobile world, family and family office platforms deliver a centralized, virtual information and coordination solution for business families and their offices.

IS YOUR FAMILY ENTERPRISE READY TO EVOLVE TO FAMILY 2.0 ?

Trusted Family was founded by 2 next generation members of business-owning families in order to help them manage their family and shareholder communications. We have a deep understanding of the typical challenges facing family businesses and family offices and are in a unique position to address them.

Contact us for your free platform demo or a family platform appraisal.

Trusted Family is based on the belief that multigenerational business-owning families can create greater financial as well as non-financial value through increased engagement between their members. We deliver a secure, centralized online communication solution to multigenerational family businesses and family offices; our proprietary technology, and family understanding creates a personalized secure environment that enables:

- Secure and accessible document archiving

- Family and client member database management

- Top-down communication

- Efficient event management

- Peer-to-peer communication