Case Study of Family Business Governance Header Image

Case Study of Family Business Governance

With wealth and succession planning it is always helpful to have a case example.

The Senior people in Aqua have worked with a number of families in designing a wealth succession or family charter platform to allow various members often consisting of a very broad family base to come together and agree common objectives, usually for the operation of a family business and regularly to ensure that there is succession and effective management of the family’s wealth and assets.

This is usually done in anticipation of the patriarch’s or matriarch’s death or to ensure that existing family planning remains and continues to work well even if the family is changing and evolving.

Aqua's support is often strategic.

It can be extremely helpful for the business man who has built up a family business over a long period of time; to devolve or gift part of his assets into non-commercial investments.

Examples can be: Real estate, other income producing assets, other trading investments, private equity style investments, or in some instances, portfolios.

This, together with effective cash and treasury management strategies via currency hedging or strategic placement of funds when there is International trade or digital investment, can create a new secondary level of wealth to allow the family to de--risk away from the existing trading entity that generally creates and builds the first pot of wealth.

There are different types or “pots” of capital; this is something that Aqua understands well.

There is the “pot of cash capital” that is represented by financial - money and assets.

There is also the “pot of clever capital” that is represented by people; the intellectual capital within the family.

Finally, and often most importantly, there is the cultural and family capital pot; the “cultural capital”. This is how Aqua describes the influences on how a particular family think and how they look at matters such as their father or grandfather’s business.

Is it with a sense of pride and wish for that business to continue?

Is it to dispose of and generate a significant asset base for remaining family members?

Aqua has significant experience in working with families where they retain the existing business albeit it may change beyond all recognition.

Aqua has worked with senior and significant families both from the UK and Europe and, over the last two decades families from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and GCC area, to create frameworks and strategies that support and develop this type of succession planning.

There is no one product and there is no one-size-fits-all.

It is important, if not absolutely critical, that the family have a strong sense of what they are about and different elements of the same family may have different objectives.

A sensible framework could take the form of a private family office. It could take the form of a Foundation It could take the form of a Trust or a series of other arrangements that facilitate the way of the patriarch or matriarch passing wealth within the family but maintaining the core of the trading business and ensuring that family needs are meet within the confines of how that particular family work.

Whilst Aqua people work with families from different parts of the world, often their drivers are the same so we see similar strategies for the ”Capital Pot” and the “Clever Pot” with the “Cultural Pot” being where there can be significant differences.

Family business can often be almost as important as the children within the family; the need to preserve and respect the patriarch’s or matriarch’s wishes and efforts in building that family are absolutely critical: the need to have some element of distance between who can make sometimes tough decisions but also ensure there is fairness and equivalence is really important.

Often it is much better for this to be dealt with by Professional Trustees who have strong corporate governance and a really clear understanding of how family businesses can work.

Aqua is independent. Aqua’s people are capable. Aqua has specialist skills in connecting a framework that will work.

Aqua does not promote investments. Aqua does not seek to advise clients on investment strategies or treasury management.

The Aqua job is to deal with and manage the family’s assets and wealth within a framework using the best advisors, bringing forward the best and most effective framework, remaining commercial and true to the patriarch or matriarch’s vision while being completely respectful of the family’s needs.

We bring along people who have often started life within family businesses, but who have the rigor, experience and professional skills developed over time within professional firms.

Our people are qualified accountants, lawyers, tax specialists, trust and estate practioners; insurance professionals, compliance and risk managers.

We try to create a framework that provides and project manages this process and we absolutely accept and understand that the family is at the heart of everything we do.

We believe this sets Aqua aside from other practitioners in this space who have not purposefully set themselves up to work within the dynamic that is a family style business.

Each family business has a unique DNA and Aqua wishes to be an essential component within that DNA.