A formal gathering with an agenda of specific issues to be discussed, ideally created by the family itself. The meeting doesn’t have to be held in a formal place, but there has to be a sense that it’s not just a social gathering.
Just as family wealth is now understood to be multi-dimensional, so should the meeting be an opportunity to work on all the aspects that make up the family's wealth. A simple start for a family meeting would be a gathering focused on family history and legacy goals.
The environment should be set up to be respectful of the interests and communication styles of various family members. “Command performances” to appear and be "talked at" are unlikely to engender commitment.
While there’s no set schedule that ensures success, it’s helpful to set up some consistency so that the family can gain momentum as it works through issues together. Rather than theoretical exercises, it always helps to have actual work to be done, as well as some deeper discussions.
An advisor must be honest about personal skillsets before taking on the task of leading a family meeting. While expertise in technical areas, such as tax or finance, is helpful, they don’t always translate to being an effective leader of a family meeting. The most important skills are the ability to facilitate dialogue and listen to all sides of a discussion.
Here are the top 5 takeaways from Family Meetings Come of Age by Patricia Angus.
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