Critically acclaimed HBO TV program Succession picked up the Golden Globe award for Best Television Drama Series in January 2020 and the Emmy for outstanding drama series in September 2020. The hit series is rife with family conflict, betrayal and drama as it follows the lives of the Roy family amid a generational transition and the prospect of the patriarch stepping back from his media conglomerate.
Succession is, admittedly, an exaggerated (and fictional) example of what can happen when parents and children clash over family business and wealth transfer, and the related impact that it can have on the community and employees that benefit from successful family firms. But real life can sometimes prove equally, if not more, challenging.
Two months after the Golden Globes, the world was changed beyond recognition as the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, countries went into lockdown, markets were disrupted and many businesses, including those that are family-run, had a unique need to rethink their plans and operations. Nine months later, the need for those plans and operations to adapt to the changing business landscape continues.
“It’s common for families to consider wealth transition only during times of conflict or on the death of the patriarch or matriarch,” explains Desmond Teo, EY Asia-Pacific Family Enterprise Leader, based in Singapore. “But the one thing that the pandemic has shown is a real need for families to get on top of their transition plans now, so that when inevitable events out of your control arise, you are better positioned to deal with them.”
According to Knight Frank’s The Wealth Report 2018, only 26% of families have a full wealth transfer plan in place.1 Resilient families and businesses are taking the opportunity to regroup and refresh around their generation transition intentions.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to family wealth and business succession. However, whether you are starting your transition planning from scratch or reviewing your existing plans in light of COVID-19, there are some practical steps that you can take to ensure your transition plans support your ambitions and legacy.