The individual, the family and multiple possibilities
In a group, independently of context, there is an infinite range of collective and individual expectations, goals, visions and ideas. In families of different social classes, expectations are created regarding the career path that a new generation might take. Medical parents imagine their children as doctors, lawyers dream of their kids being lawyers as well and so on. But when parents have built not only a career, but also a company, that gets even more intense.
To be born in a family that generates jobs and wealth might be like winning the lottery. Children and grandchildren of businesspeople, in general, enjoy the benefits of living with financial security, access to good education, good health conditions and the possibility of travelling the world. On the other hand, many times it is expected from the new generation – directly or indirectly – that they dedicate themselves to the family business the same way as the founder generation did, and that they contribute to the company using the education that was provided for them. It is observed within the family business, in this context, many opportunities for the heirs: wether as internships, executive positions or in governance organs. In other cases, family groups choose just the opposite, forbidding heirs and respective spouses to operate in the family business.
It is interesting, when it comes to business families, to acknowledge the multiple possibilities that their enterprises, entrepreneurial skills, networking and wealth can provide for the family and its members. To reflect on the legacy to be left for the future, on the goals and on the family values is a good exercise that makes individuals realize what is collective and, from that, arise a sense of belonging. From the moment when the family has a plan for itself, and a purpose for its wealth, it becomes easy to see the multiple paths that each one can course on the pursuit of personal achievement, aligned with the collectiveness. At the same time, a range of solutions is opened for the continuity of family’s businesses, foundations and other initiatives.
Developing an artistic career; opening a start up; funding an innovation center within the family business; building an executive career; dedicating itself to liquid investments, to real estate, to farms; structuring or participating in the Family Office; building an Impact Investing career or a philantropy project – or any other initiative aligned with the family’s goals – becomes an option to the family members that will choose the way in which they can be the protagonist and therefore be fulfilled as a person and as a professional.
Having a broad vision of its wealth and acknowledging that its assets – whether they are companies, investment funds, equities, real estate and so on – are afterall working to accomplish the family’s goals, is to think with an Investing Family mindset. To adopt Family Governance and think on the longevity of the family in harmony, with aligned interests and betting on the diversification of family’s initiatives and enterprises, is to invest in a sustainable model of continuity.
Therefore, to build and to maintain a fertile environment for the development of talents, for personal accomplishments and consequently for the happiness of family members, becomes the great challenge for the leaders in this situation. It’s the role of the new generation to acknowledge the family trajectory and respect it, learning from it, and to reflect on what will be taken forward – the inherited legacy and the legacy that will be passed on.
MARCELO GEYER EHLERS
Partner at INEO and co-author of The Investing Family and the Family Office.