Many successful entrepreneurs dream of the day when their business is sold, resulting in a sizable check and a sense of accomplishment. The many years of hard work, taking big risks and meeting obligations such as an aggressive competitive environment, payroll and cash flow challenges finally pay off.
Now what? The daily challenges and hands on building of assets and wealth are likely over, but the prospect of golf every day seems unattractive to many of us. This drives most people who sell their business at the tail end of a career to search for new opportunities to invest the proceeds. Very often this quest creates quagmires of adventure that consume the very time we wished we had for family, hobbies and the next stage of our lives.
The hard fact is that the very skills an entrepreneur instinctively has to build a business and resultant wealth are usually not the skills that will responsibly protect, enhance and manage that wealth for the rest of our lives — and for potentially multiple generations. Risk-taking works for most of us when we are at the helm of the business we started, operate and fully understand. Taking that chunk of cash and investing it to last is a different story. It requires a different approach and different strategy.
In addition, most entrepreneurs accumulate complimentary assets such as real estate, private equity and investments made during the course of an enterprising career and business life. When a core business is sold or otherwise transferred, the responsibility of the administration, management and monitoring of these other investments falls squarely on the retiring owner’s shoulders, as the usual support structure enjoyed while the owner of a business may fall completely away or be reduced.
Considering a family office to help with both the transition and this next life stage strategy may be a worthwhile exercise. A family office can help with the objective engagement of family members, such as spouse, kids and potentially grandkids. An independent professional management team can provide invaluable insight into strategies to preserve wealth, manage it responsibly, guide the family on philanthropic endeavors and be there for subsequent generations to ensure preservation of capital and smart use thereof.
‘The family office can manage and coordinate all of the family’s advisors such as legal, estate planning, insurance, banking, trust management, accounting, tax, philanthropy and family administration. Some family offices go so far as to provide complete administrative services such as bill-paying, money management, banking, and general family support services. In addition, family offices usually recommend regular family meetings, where all assets are updated, strategies discussed, issues raised and family members engaged for input and ideas.
So what about cost? A family office staffed by competent, qualified and discreet professionals is not inexpensive. Most family offices charge a percentage of the assets managed, plus an al a cart menu of services one can chose from to provide a custom made fit for the family. You can usually negotiate a level of service and fees charged to fit your needs. Remember the old adage: You get what you pay for. Often a small family office has a fee structure that is similar to a large investment institution but can provide so much more — and offer a totally personalized package.
Making the transition from a business owner to an investor and family asset manager is far more difficult than most entrepreneurs imagine. A family office can provide a clean, objective team to help you work through this and be the anchor for the family through the inevitable stages of life — and the surprises it can spring on us and our loved ones.
You owe it to yourself and your family to consider this option to ensure that the very hard work you have put in will be honored and protected for the long term.