Advisers can play an important role in supporting the growth and continuity of your family business, offering a range of skills in a number of professional capacities. Whether your family is experiencing hardship in personal relationships, succession planning or has a general need for financial planning, an adviser can add value to your business family.
Selecting an adviser is an important first step, and to get there your family needs to identify what opportunities are most important to pursue.
In their book, How to Choose & Use Advisors: Getting the Best Professional Family Business Advice, Dr. John Ward and Dr. Craig Aronoff list the following special needs for family businesses that should be understood by their professional advisers:
- The need of business owners to make succession, strategic, personal financial and family plans that reflect overlapping business, personal and family goals.
- The need to make business goals harmonize with family objectives, philosophies and values.
- The need to integrate successive generations of family members with business operations.
- In many cases, the need to satisfy shareholder demands for liquidity without relinquishing family control.
- The need to finance ownership and management succession without relinquishing family control.
- The profound impact of family values, history and attitudes on the workings of the business.
This list represents a good starting point in the process of finding family business advisers who will integrate an understanding of these special needs with their technical expertise. In addition, the professional you choose should, according to Ward and Aronoff:
- Maintain up-to-date technical knowledge and show strong interest in and commitment to his or her field;
- Communicate openly in clear, simple language to help educate family members when appropriate;
- Seek to know your family and business in depth;
- Understand how families work and how the family and the business relate to each other;
- Give advice and counsel that suits both your family and your business;
- Initiate periodic meetings with you for update and review;
- Be resourceful on your behalf, spotting opportunities for sharing information and contacts;
- Show empathy, patience and trustworthiness;
- Be willing to work with successive generations;
- Raise questions about the future;
- Promote collaboration among advisers; and
- Give honest advice, even when it may jeopardize the client relationship.
The members of the professional Advisory Committee for the Family Business Center shared their recommendations for choosing professional advisers and list a variety of questions your family business can use while interviewing candidates.
Did you hear the story about the fellow who spent more time and energy on deciding which car to buy than on choosing his wife? Sadly, many family businesses make the same mistake in choosing their professional advisers. The point is that you should put forth the effort to find the right professional because your family and your business are major parts of your well-being. You need to decide who is right for you, your family and your family business.
When looking for a professional to help you, your family and your business, these guidelines will assist you:
- First, be clear in your mind about where you are with the family business and where you want the business to go. Remember, you are looking for someone who can help you and your family business meet challenges that are unique and often difficult.
- Next, choose people from referrals to interview, preferably with other members of your family.
- Finally, choose a professional who is able to work with your entire family, your key employees and your other advisers to get the job done. This person must also understand and empathize with how difficult this process can be and must truly want to help.
- Why am I considering using a family business professional?
- What are my goals?
- Right now, what am I willing and not willing to do differently?
Evaluating the Project
- What are the goals of the project?
- What do I want the professional to do?
- What do I see as my role?
Evaluating the Professional
- Describe the “wrong” person for the job.
- What are the key factors that will determine whether I hire this adviser?
- Will the questions I plan to ask give me the insight needed to choose a suitable adviser?
Understanding Family Business Process and Goals
- How do you build an understanding of how a family works?
- What does working within a family culture mean to you?
- How do you build an understanding of the relationship between a family and their family business?
- How do you build and promote collaboration with other advisers serving the same family business?
- Describe the optimum working relationship between you and the other professionals serving the same family business.
- Describe your role as a family business adviser.
Trust, Sensitivity, Empathy and Compassion
- How do you begin earning trust with a client?
- How and when do you participate in the changing of family culture?
- How do you show sensitivity and empathy?
- What does compassion mean to you? What role does compassion play in a project?
- Can the professional adviser candidate provide enthusiastic references from family businesses similar to yours?
- Does the candidate have experience with clients whose family businesses are at least as complex as yours?
- Is the candidate suited to the professional adviser role you need him or her to play?
These suggestions were compiled by Cary Tutelman & Larry Hause.
To read more about the topic, please consider How to Choose & Use Advisors: Getting the Best Professional Family Business Advice, by Dr. John Ward and Dr. Craig Aronoff.
These advisers have a variety of skills and experience working with family businesses.
If you are an adviser who wishes to be listed in this directory, please contact us.
Justin Anderson – JSA Advising
Services related to behavioral and relational aspects of family business. Communication, optimizing health and well-being for the entire system.
Marianne Badar – Creative Connections
Works with small and mid-sized businesses to facilitate the development of strategic plans, manage initiatives to change, and build employee engagement, accountability and collaboration to quickly realize goals.
Specializes in succession planning.
Margaret Cronin – Stinson Leonard Street, Professional Association
Attorney representing families of wealth, closely held businesses, private charitable foundations and entrepreneurs; focus on estate and charitable planning, cabin succession planning and managing enterprise growth, from formation and partnership development to trademarks, branding and succession planning.
Jeff Cairns – Stinson Leonard Street, Professional Association
Advising private and family business owners, professionals, fiduciaries and executives on tax deferred retirement plans, ESOPs and succession planning techniques; consulting with employers on group employee benefit programs.
Phillip Christenson, CFA – Phillip James Financial
Saint Thomas Alum specializing in wealth management for families with businesses including tax planning, transition planning, cash flow planning, insurance issues and investments.
Harold Dahl – Larson Allen LLP
Specializes in audits, tax and business transactions.
Paul J. Dinzeo – Accredited Investors, Inc.
Estate planning, tax planning, financial analysis and planning.
Joe Downes – Laurel Wealth Planning
Specializes in asset accumulation, business protection and estate planning.
Richard A. Enrooth – E.B. Services
Strategic planning, succession, continuity and general business operation.
Shayne Fettig – Ollum Consulting. LLC
Family business consulting, assessment for selection and development, services for business family development and family “strategic” planning.
Richard N. Flint – Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A.
Succession planning, tax planning, business planning and assisting families with members different interests and abilities.
Thomas M. Hubler – Hubler for Business Families
Specializes in succession planning, communication and management of difference, common vision and leadership development.
John Hughes – Ollum Consulting. LLC
Family business, leadership and organization development, succession planning.
Craig Kleis – Bernstein Global Wealth Management
Multigenerational planning and wealth management, succession planning and tax-efficient wealth transfer.
Robert Klosterman – White Oaks Wealth Management
Estate transition planning, wealth management, family office services and transition planning.
Susan Lazar – Susan Lazar Consulting, Inc.
Leadership transition, business planning, improving communication and decision-making, and individual coaching.
Mary Ellen Leary – The Mel Group, LLC
Human resources and organization development consulting.
David Magy – Abeln, Magy, Underberg & Associates
Specializes in retained search, corporate recruitment and workforce consulting for family-owned businesses.
Kalli Matsuhashi – Executive Confidante
Family conflict resolution, training in understanding family business stages of development and growth, development of ownership agreements, family employment policies, conflict resolution processes, and other standards/policies for family businesses, next generation career planning and development.
Katy Mitchell – Leadership Transitions, Inc.
Leadership in team development, individual coaching, succession planning, next generation leadership and networking groups.
Jean Morrison – Morrison and Associates, Inc.
Specializes in conflict resolution, performance management, team building, employer/employee relations, executive/individual coaching and organizational transitions.
Richard Olson – Olson Constulting Group
Leadership development, assessment, coaching, team development and organizational development.
Brandon J. Oslund – Oslund Wealth Management Group at Merrill Lynch
Succession planning, financial planning and wealth transfer.
Tim Peterson – Larson Allen LLP
Specializes in financial reporting, tax planning and succession planning.
Catherine Reid Day – Storyslices LLC
Storyslices™ uses the power of story to help people and organizations navigate transitions, improve their performance and increase results. We apply our 20 years experience creating philanthropic legacies for families and businesses to support closely held businesses with inheritance and succession. Services include clarifying and conveying vision and values, intergenerational and transition communications, strategic advising, board development, writing, publishing and media production.
Edgardo E. Rodriguez – Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA)
General management and technical assistance, including financing and marketing support for new or existing minority-owned business ventures. Specialties include succession planning, governance, holding companies, leadership and compensation.
Wayne M. Serie – Vistage International
Works with CEOs, presidents and business owners in the Twin Cities.
Paul Smaby – Integral Advisors
Integral Advisors specializes in working with family businesses make the transition from an entrepreneurial organization to a professionally managed company, avoiding the potential pitfall along the corporate lifecycle known as the founder or family trap. Using a combination of Strategic Planning, Team Building, Leadership Development, and Career Transition, Integral Advisors guides family businesses to a higher level of performance and well-being.
William M. Sternberg – The Minneapolis Foundation
We make it easy to make a difference – today and for future generations. Since 1915, The Minneapolis Foundation has partnered with generous individuals and families, effective nonprofits, engaged civic leaders and other people just like you to strengthen our community through charitable giving.
Michael P. Sullivan, Jr. – Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A.,
Business/corporate attorney assisting family-owned businesses with a broad range of business and legal issues, including acquisitions, financing, governance and shareholder disputes.
Cary Tutelman – CJT Company
Guides family businesses through the complicated web of ownership, management and board and family issues that transition brings.
Jason Vavra – Chartwell Capital Solutions
Jon Wilbrecht – Wilbrecht Consulting
With 25 years of CEO experience, Wilbrecht Consulting helps manufacturing companies plan, re-position and move forward for a successful future.