Transactions Vs. Transitions
My last blog was about the FOX workshop that Tom and I attended in NYC a little over a week ago. I ended it off talking about the “discovery” process, which can be summarized as follows: If you want to get somewhere, first you need to figure out where you are now.
It all sounds so simple, but as I often say, simple does not always mean easy. In fact, it rarely does. What does help to do difficult things, though, is to have them explained in simple terms. I pride myself on being able to do that.
One of the major themes that came through at the FOX conference was that advisors in our business are sought after in times of transition. It is also at these times that our value to our clients is most apparent.
The transition we most often associate with family businesses is succession. It is one of those subjects that seems to get put off, for a couple of major reasons. Number one is that the founder is too busy running their business to “waste” time on such things. The second reason is that it is not as easy as it sounds.
It is simple to say that you should have a succession plan, but not easy to come up with one and put it in place. But succession is just one of the major transitions that come up, and unfortunately most of the other transitions suffer from the same “sounds simple, but isn’t easy” reality.
At the conference the attendees related stories about selling a business, divorce, remarriage, illness, death, children entering or leaving the business, family disputes, reconstituted families, placing people in nursing homes and even in rehab. We pretty well ran the gamut of things that can happen to a business or wealthy family.
The point I want to make here is that at times like these, it is reassuring to be assisted by people who help you focus on the big picture. These are major events, and often major transitions in the evolution of the family.
Many advisors look at only one small portion of the picture, and that is usually fine as well. But allow me to bring in the other word from the title of this blog: Transactions. A transaction is simply a one-time event.
You buy 1000 shares of a stock in your account, and you get a transaction slip. You go to your notary to sign a document to sell a property, it gets recorded, you get an invoice; more transactions.
These transactions are usually handled by specialists who handle these types of transactions every day, all day long. You cannot expect them to have the big picture view to advise you when it comes to the transitions in your life.
It is not always easy to find the kind of advice that you are looking for. Trust is a HUGE issue, as it should be. But right along with trust is objectivity. Yes, objectivity.
An objective advisor is someone who helps you decide what to do and how to do it, without regard to how he/she (the advisor) can benefit. Please do not forget about this when deciding whose counsel to take.
I will deal with that in my next blog, where we will get into another new term that we came across at FOX, that of Open Architecture. It took me a minute or two to figure out what the others were talking about when they used that term, and I needed to explain it to Tom at the coffee break.
I will put up a blog on the subject in the coming week. I hope it will be informative, and as usual, I will try to keep it from being technical.