Creating a family charter can be difficult, painful and time-consuming. Some say it’s like opening a can of worms! But it is also enlightening and promotes healthy discussion amongst the family. A friend once said, the process brought harmony to the family where there was conflict. It protected the family in light of the business. We say, you can always get another business, but you cannot get another family!
The process may include bringing in a team of specialists together who are financial and legal experts. This will enable all aspects of governance and policy to be covered; all working together with the best interest of the family and future of the business in mind.
So what’s in this ‘Family Charter’? To nurture a sense of belonging, transparency, trust, clarity and responsibility topics may include:
- The family creed or set of beliefs
- The vision of the family seniors as well as next generation
- Forums for communication. Around the kitchen table or a formal family council or family assembly
- Succession planning
- Employment of family members
- Education and development of family members
- Rights and responsibilities of Shareholders
- Realisation of assets
- Guide to the transfer and buying of shares
- Drop dead policy
The Family Charter can simply be a document held on the server or a beautifully designed and crafted document for all family members to treasure and refer to. It is a living document and will need to be updated every couple of years in order for it to remain effective and relevant.
It enables the family to have one foot in the past to understand the heritage and legacy of the business. The other will be stepping into the future, looking forward with ambition and pride.
This is an undertaking not for the faint hearted, but for the brave and ambitious who understand clearly all that has been sacrificed through the generations and who want to build on their legacy and take the family business to new heights.