We work with the intersection of family relationships, business, financial and philanthropic enterprises, and personal development.
Our goal is to help families develop:
- Positive and supportive relationships
- Effective and profitable businesses and enterprises
- Clarity of roles and relationships in management and governance
- Individual development of responsibility, competence and fulfillment
- Strategies to preserve the family wealth
Collectively, our three partners have more than a century of experience with hundreds of large and small families all over the world who are facing difficult transitions and overcoming crises.
We do not specialize in any one particular industry or size of enterprise. We work with smaller families in the first and second generations as well as larger families who have been successful for multiple generations. We find the issues, problems and concerns span a wide range of family business situations.
Our clients are not only families with operating businesses, but also include families with a portfolio of assets and who have family offices or foundations. Our emphasis in these cases are issues concerning inter-generational management of wealth and effective relationships within their family. We strive to ensure the wealth creates joy not grief. An important part of our work is developing the next generation in a family by addressing ownership as well as management succession. We strongly advocate personal responsibility and developing a strong sense of stewardship.
How We Work
We Look at the Whole Situation
We begin by assessing the whole family, looking at the big picture of what they want in the future, and what elements have to be in place to achieve success. We can assess the traits, abilities and competencies of family members to ensure best fit between their capabilities and the needs of the business. Individual development or coaching parallels family development. For optimum success, one without the other is incomplete.
We Work for the Long Haul
We make a long-term commitment to help families implement their solutions. We want to put in place lasting solutions that change the quality of the family’s connections, and the success of its various business and financial ventures.
We Work with the Team of Advisors
We are generalists. Every family has advisors who have an important role. We work as part of a team with your other advisors to design a solution that works for the family. We do not offer legal advice, but work with your advisors to find the best path for your family.
THE ASPEN FAMILY BUSINESS CONSULTING MODEL
Most of our consulting engagements are implemented in five stages. The activities in these stages may overlap, but generally occur in the following sequence.
1. We typically begin with an Introductory Meeting to get to know one another. In this meeting, we ascertain if we are the right consulting firm for you by listening to your objectives, gaining an understanding of your issues and concerns and sharing our approach to consultation. We share our understanding of family business dynamics and how we help families in business. Importantly, we learn whether we are comfortable working with each other. We then propose the scope of our work, business arrangements and timeframe. When we are aligned, we move to the assessment process.
2. In the Assessment Stage, we begin our discovery, which includes interviewing family members, key employees and, in some cases, other advisors. We also review documents to help us become familiar with the entire family business system. Depending on your presenting issues, we may administer one of the Aspen questionnaires such as the Family Business Inventory, the Family Wealth Inventory, the Family Foundation Inventory or the Legacy Properties Inventory.
These instruments yield reports with details about family and business strengths, vulnerabilities, knowledge gaps and issues regarding trust and fairness. These reports, in conjunction with individual interviews, lead us to a list of core issues for both your family and business. In the family retreat that follows, we prioritize the issues, share observations and recommendations and engage your family in developing the plan.
By the end of the family retreat, we will have a list of prioritized goals and delegated responsibilities for reaching those goals. We often begin the alignment process during the retreat.
3. The Alignment stage is designed to rebuild trust, clarify assumptions, reduce conflict and create better communication. In the process of alignment, family purpose, shared vision and values emerge and become the foundation of the stages that follow.
4. The Commitment stage involves writing covenants, contracts or other agreements that reflect new boundaries and the commitments family members are making. These agreements may include a Family Mission Statement, a Statement of Vision, a Family Employment Policy, a Buy-Sell Agreement, a Shareholders’ Position Statement and/or other agreements and plans as necessary. Work on building trust and teamwork will continue during this stage.
5. In the Implementation stage, systems of accountability, organizational structures and processes (e.g. Family Councils, Shareholder Groups, Estate Plans, etc.) are created, which reflect the maturation of both your family and your business. Ongoing collaboration to assure that change is fully implemented is often part of the individualized work we design with our clients.