The Whitnell Way
Insights For Business Owners, Executives And Affluent Families
Viewing Blogs by Robert Legan
Eight Guiding Principles For Transferring Family Businesses
Core Questions To Ask Yourself Now To Prepare For Your Ideal Future
It’s been called the silver tsunami. Over the next 20 years or so, we will witness the single largest transfer of privately held businesses in the history of the U.S. The baby boomer generation produced more entrepreneurs than any generation before. Now those entrepreneurs, many of whom run family businesses, are nearing retirement and have to make choices about the next phase of their lives.
If you or someone you care about is facing this situation, I’d like to help. I’ve had the privilege of working closely with privately held businesses, often family businesses, to create strategies for the future of business owners and their families. These are complex situations that require careful thought, strategy and timing. Here are eight guiding principles that I’ve found to be the most important questions you can ask yourself as you consider how to transfer your business.
Why I Believe in Family Vacations
How These Shape Family Values and Protect Your Wealth Long-Term
At the risk of sounding like my parents and grandparents, life was a lot simpler when I was growing up! As a parent, I often ask myself this question. How do I ensure that my children and (someday) grandchildren thrive in the very complicated, fast-paced and connected world that we live in today? Families that I work with share the same concern. They often ask: how do we preserve and pass on family values for generations?
While there are formal approaches to addressing this issue, such as defining family constitutions, family boards and formal family meetings, sometimes simply disconnecting and taking a family vacation is the best way to reconnect. When families spend quality time together, they create memories and bonds that last. They also reinforce and shape family values. Here are five reasons I recommend taking time out for a family vacation.
Whitnell Podcast: Insights With Robert Legan
Top Considerations For Transferring A Family Business
In this podcast, originally aired on Chicago’s Premiere talk-radio station, WGN, Robert Legan outlines top considerations for transferring a family business. In some instances, a business will transfer from one generation to the next. In other instances, a business will transfer to a third party. Both of these types of transaction require careful thought and planning, which should begin many years before the transaction takes place.
Why You Shouldn’t Focus On Money
Focus On Your Family Purpose Instead
I know it might sound strange for me to say that you shouldn’t focus on money. Of course, I’m not saying that you should ignore your finances and hope for the best. That would not be wise. But through my experiences with serving families, something has become very clear to me. Wealth is a means to an end – living a great life.
Families work hard to build wealth, not for the sake of achieving some number on a balance sheet. They want the wealth to support their family life. As a family’s wealth grows, it is easy to get consumed by the numbers from taxes to balance sheets to interest income, etc. There comes a point where it may be a good time to take a step back and reflect on the why – your family purpose – to assess whether your wealth and hard work is helping you to achieve a greater purpose.
Has Managing Family Wealth Become Your Business?
Why A Family Enterprise Could Be Essential To Your Future
I have the great privilege to work with families who wish to sustain their wealth to benefit multiple generations. This can be quite a challenge. Families that have worked extremely hard to build wealth find it just as difficult to preserve wealth over time. The concern is that a wealthy family could go from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. The first generation creates the wealth. The second generation consumes the wealth and the third generation is starting all over again.
While there are many strategies that can be put in place to preserve multi-generational wealth, here is what I’ve learned after so many years of serving affluent families. There are two critical factors that will have a greater influence on this goal than anything else: recognizing tipping points and viewing family wealth as an enterprise. The surprising thing is that neither of these are strategies, per se. They are both about mindset, about taking a certain perspective. Let me explain.
How A Family Office Reduces Complexity
Affluent Families Need An Integrated Approach To Managing Wealth
Affluent families who face complexity in their financial lives will find that an integrated family office delivers real peace of mind. Simply put, a family office approach reduces complexity by coordinating key family advisors, integrating disparate financial interests and aligning stakeholders to support critical family decisions. The result is that affluent families can focus on being a family instead of worrying about how their wealth is managed.
But what exactly is a family office? The phrase “office” can have more than one meaning. Office can mean a set of rooms or a building where business is conducted. By this definition, a family office is simply the building where the business of your family is conducted.
Is A Family Office Approach Right For Your Situation?
Families With Complex Needs Deserve High-Touch Services
“Family offices” are often thought of as the domain of the ultra-affluent. When people think of a family office, they often envision a team of highly skilled people, such as lawyers, CPAs and investment advisors, serving a single prominent American family, such as the Rockefellers.
While this has been the common perception over the last several decades, a new trend is emerging. This trend is designed to serve a changing demographic. During the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations, the US witnessed a proliferation of wealth unlike ever before.
Robert Legan Now Leads Family Office Services
Ultra-Affluent Families Well-Served Through His Experience
Whitnell is pleased to announce that Robert Legan is now leading the Family Office Service team. His background in working with ultra-affluent families made him the obvious choice for this role. For those who may not be aware, the Family Office Service team at Whitnell works with a select group of ultra-affluent families who have complex financial needs.
Will You Be Happy After Selling Your Business?
75% Of Business Owners Are Not
I read an interesting statistic the other day, although I did find it somewhat disturbing. According to the Exit Planning Institute’s Readiness Survey (2013), 75% of business owners “profoundly regretted” selling their business 12 months after the deal. To me, this is very sad to hear. I’m privileged to work with a select group of entrepreneurs and I know how much passion and energy they bring to their businesses. They pour their lives into these enterprises.
They look forward to the day when all of their hard work will culminate in a transfer of equity to someone else. But all too often, that moment is followed by disappointment. Why?
Are You Ready To Transition Your Business?
Key Considerations For Business Owners
I’ve had the privilege of working with entrepreneurs to transition their business to others, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Many business owners may be unprepared to transfer their business when the time comes to sell. This not only delays the liquidity event, it can also have a material negative impact on the value of the business.
If you are a business owner over the age of 40, I’d like to give you some key insights to think about now so you can start to prepare for your business transfer. Even if you think this may not happen for another decade, these insights will help you be ready when the time comes.
Five Reasons Business Partners Need Formal Contingency Plans
They Protect You, Your Partners, and Your Families
Many successful private businesses are owned and managed by a limited number of partners. Sometimes these partners are family members or life-long friends. Other times the business partnerships formed after trusted working relationships were fostered. But I’ve noticed a dangerous trend in these types of businesses.
It seems many closely-held, privately owned businesses do not have formal agreements in place to protect the business owners from unforeseen circumstances that could dramatically impact them and their families. A high degree of personal trust and loyalty, handshake agreements, seem to suffice between partners. I believe this is a mistake. I’d like to share my perspectives with you.
The Five Biggest Mistakes People Make When Transferring A Family Business To The Next Generation
How You Can Avoid These Costly Mistakes
I’ve seen many families over the years grow successful companies that provide a great quality of life for the ones they love. Whitnell, in fact, was born out of a family business and still holds true to these roots. Serving families is an important part of our heritage and mission.
While family businesses provide tremendous benefits, they also present challenges. One of the biggest challenges comes into play when a senior family member, often the primary equity holder and sometimes the founder, decides to retire. If the founder’s children have shown interest in the business, the founder often wants to transfer the business to them. This should be simple, right? I mean, the family owns the business. So it should be a straightforward private transaction, right?
What To Do After Your Liquidity Event
It’s Surprising How Many People Do Not Realize Peace Of Mind
I was talking to a client recently who had a substantial liquidity event a few years ago. This event changed his life in more ways than he could have imagined. It produced what should be multi-generational wealth. But he said one thing that surprised me. His liquidity event did not produce peace of mind. He had worked hard with his family for many years and dreamed of one day reaping the harvest. But when it came, the experience was not what he thought it would be.
Transitioning Strategies For Family-Owned Businesses
How To Think About A Wealth Plan That Takes Care Of The Family
Family-owned businesses provide many wonderful opportunities and some unique challenges. Many business founders pour their heart and soul into their business for years and enjoy the fruits of watching it grow. But as time goes on, they begin to think about retirement.
For family-owned businesses, especially those families where children are involved in the business, the retirement of the business founder can be a real conundrum. There are so many issues to sort through. Some of these issues are financial or business-related. But other issues are unique to family-planning and caring for loved ones.
How To Build A Great Financial Team
Start With Your Financial Quarterback
In my last article, I stated that a great financial team includes a wealth manager, CPA and estate attorney. The reason you need this team is because success in business does not necessarily equate to success in wealth. Even those who earn a high income may not achieve their wealth goals unless they have the right team guiding them.
Why Does Your Money Need A Team?
The Importance Of Team Planning For Wealth Building
Success in business does not necessarily equate to success in wealth. Just because someone earns a high income, owns a lot of assets, holds equity in a private business or has a large portfolio – this does not always mean that they’ll achieve their wealth goals. To achieve the goals that matter most to you regarding your wealth, you need a team of experts who work together to address a wide range of issues including financial planning, taxes, retirement, cash-flow, estate planning, asset protection and even charitable giving.
Is Your Greatest Asset At Risk?
Protect Your Business and Net Worth
When I meet with business owners, it seems they want to talk primarily about their investment portfolio. What I often discover, however, is that their current investment portfolio is a fraction of their potential net worth, unless they’ve already had a liquidity event and sold their business.