My passion for family wealth sustainability is personal. As a son, I want to ensure that my father is clear on the fact that his children understand the running and management of his property/businesses and will continue to run and grow them.
As a father, I am desperate to continually improve the lives of my children. I want to make sure that they never need for anything. I, however, also want to instill the discipline of hard work and commitment to the growth of the family enterprise.
In my line of work, I have had the privilege of engaging with businesses owned by Kenyans of Asian heritage. It is my belief that succession and sustainability of the family wealth is ingrained in their culture. It is beautiful to watch the younger family members, as young as 10 years old, being involved in the running of the business. They are introduced to some manual tasks and basic stock take, so that they use the skills they possess. The importance of their task is communicated repeatedly so that they slowly have a sense of ownership and a measure of responsibility in the success of the company.
This is not the case with the other tribes in Kenya. The parents slave away growing their empires, leaving their off-spring to ‘focus on school’. Fast forward to retirement of the parents and the offspring, who now fall in the category of youth, fall into one of these two categories:
- Those who have chosen to grow their own careers and have a plan for their lives that is independent of the family business/wealth; or
- Those who shackle themselves to the trappings of the family wealth and have not grown into themselves.
The challenge we find in both scenarios is the complete disinterest and lack of understanding in the management of the family’s wealth portolio. During family discussions on matters to do with property or business, eyes will glaze over and attention reverted to mobile phones, while others will mention their rapidly depleting accounts that required replenishment.
We all know how this story ends. Never with the whole family holding hands and singing ‘kumbaya’. At the patriarch’s demise, all hell breaks loose. The off-spring are going at each other, some turn on their mother and try to wrestle the death certificate from her, while the matriarch scrambles to protect all the family wealth in the way she knows how; hide it!
For anyone diligently growing their business, there is the unspoken dream of your children taking over the company and growing it beyond your wildest dreams. While your is currently a modest 4metres by 5 metres cubicle in one of Kenya’s towns, you see your children owning the organisation’s campus with branded trucks moving in and out of the premises, and their children going global.
How can you make everyone play ball? How can you bring them round the table and buy into your vision and eventually take it over and make it their own.
That’s where we come in. That’s where we at Andersen step in and walk with all of you.
You are not alone.
There is help.
It can be fixed.