Working With TD&A

Insights for Families in Business: Finding Help

Family matters are very private. Business information is very powerful. Confidentiality, then, is absolutely essential when dealing with family businesses. All TD&A communications are confidential and our respect for confidentiality begins with the client’s initial inquiry.

Often people who are considering seeking outside help with family business issues are ambivalent:  They may be wondering why they need external help for internal family business problems. Yet these very same people don’t hesitate to seek outside legal or financial advice. But family matters are often guided by a code of privacy that demands family members abide by an unwritten rule: No one shares family affairs with outsiders. Accepting help requires a family to overcome the notion that asking for help is breaking a family rule.

Privacy. Wealth. Success. All can create isolation; isolated families lack the benefit of knowing that other families, too, struggle with problems, plans, decisions, issues, and concerns. We help families realize that many of the problems they face are intrinsic to family controlled enterprise structures such as business operations, family offices, trust, and foundations. Family history and relationships can create certain dynamics and situations that are beyond the control of any one family member.

We have identified four different stages of readiness in terms of whether a family is ready to accept help. A family may be:

When a family member makes the decision to seek help we welcome the opportunity to discuss our services with whomever reaches out and makes the first call.

Timing is All Relative: Meeting Together

When a family member first calls TD&A we provide a brief overview of our services and the Davidow Interdisciplinary Method ™. We explain that we will meet with you face-to-face only if all family members currently working in the business attend the initial meeting. We help the person who initiated the contact express to the family why he or she called TD&A. We also assess the family's willingness to accept help in order to resolve family and business challenges.

When a professional advisor to a family controlled enterprise contacts TD&A we focus on whether the professional feels comfortable making the referral. We also suggest ways in which the advisor can approach the family about accepting family business consultation. Most often, the professional advisor relays information about TD&A to the family or requests permission from family members for us to contact them. During the initial meeting the referring professional may or may not be present; we leave that decision up to the individual.

Referral fees are never accepted. The same rules of confidentiality apply to both individual and professional referrals.

Family, Business, and How They Relate: Meeting Together

The first step in resolving a family business problem is acknowledging that a problem exists. During your initial meeting with TD&A it will be determined which resources will offer the best solution for your family. It is important that all family members be present at the initial meeting for several reasons. First, when a family agrees to an initial meeting it indicates that members are committed to the family, its relationships, its business. Second, it shows that the family members acknowledge the existence of a problem. Third, it suggests that the family members are willing to work together to resolve their issues or problems.

At the initial meeting the issues facing the family are discussed and family members can ask questions that will help them determine if they want to move forward to the next stage of consultation. Successful family business consultation requires that a rapport be established between the family and the consultant; this rapport serves as the foundation for working effectively with all family members.

During Phase I of the consultation process TD&A conducts assessments of the business, family members, and nonfamily executives who have a leadership role in the business. The family then receives a written report that includes recommendations for moving forward.

Phase II involves implementation of the recommendations. Monthly meetings are recommended to begin the process; meetings usually last a full day. Depending on the issues and the recommendations meetings may involve individual family members or the collective family. The consultation process typically requires a commitment of six to nine months.

There is no fee for the initial two-hour meeting.

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