Managing Family Dynamics in an Advisory Firm
Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.
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I have been brought into an extremely successful family advisory practice as president. The goal of the patriarch and matriarch, both of whom were involved with the business from inception to our AUM of $2.9 billion, is to have an outsider to manage the firm to the next phase of growth. The children (four of them) all work in various parts of the firm and have differing skill levels and interests. I am 62-years old and the two founders know I do not want to do this more than seven to 10 years. After seven to 10 years I plan to hand it off to either one of the children or another outsider. I am clear on my mandate and the two founders and I work collaboratively together.
The problem is the children.
Two of them are the issue. The oldest sister runs a big part of our back office operations. She is smart, quick, well-liked by the team and brings new and creative ways for us to do things. She has brought the firm very far very fast and clients appreciate the support they now get. One of the younger children, her brother, is a successful advisor. He is smart and quick and creative. His clients appreciate him and he has a growth mindset, so he has contributed to increased revenue and AUM.
The problem is that, from a historical perspective, something happened between them, perhaps in their childhood. It impacts their ability to work together. In short, they hate each other – I mean, really hate each other. They refuse to be in the same room at the same time. You’re not allowed to say one’s name to the other and God forbid you compliment one you will be attacked by the other for all of their faults and the awful things you don’t see!