A family-owned company often holds families together by giving members a shared identity and conferring a status in the community established by previous generations. But what happens after selling the company, as The New York Times details, is often something that family members are not prepared for.
Their focus was on running the business and then on the sale, and little thought went into what comes next.
“This is going to become more and more relevant because of the aging out of baby boomers,” says Michael Cole, chief executive of Cresset, which manages money for large wealthy families. “The key to doing it successfully is how you prepare yourself and how you prepare your family. It’s really a lifestyle choice.”
If families don’t do it right, splitting apart is almost inevitable.
“A shared business becomes very much a glue,” Cole says. “When the business is sold, what we see in almost every situation is some family member splits away.”
Mergers and acquisitions involving family businesses are already happening at an increasing clip. Owners are putting their businesses on the block or receiving unsolicited offers, often for more than what the families thought their company was worth, citing an increase in referrals from bankers working to sell family businesses.
Family members selling a business should transition their focus from operating a company to managing a portfolio of money, most advisors say, rather than the money itself. And sometimes the magnitude of the sale can become an issue for a family’s identity, especially if the acquisition price becomes public. Read the full feature.