Onboarding the Next Generation of Family Council Members

Date: Nov 12 2018

Ann Dugan, Senior Managing Director, Advisory Services, Family Office Exchange

Recently, a FOX member inquired about the best practices of onboarding a next generation family member into the Family Council. "What does the first year look like for them?" "What should be done to welcome them into the Council?"

In my experience, many families prepare for the next generation's entry into the council by establishing a learning pathway and honor their inaugural participation in special ways. A learning pathway will prepare the 'next gen' member for entry and develop their adult skill sets without being overwhelming at this stage of their young life. 

Learning Pathway Ingredients

Ingredients of this learning pathway may be spread over the learning path year, as well as the initial first year of membership in the council as appropriate, and may include:

  • History of the council- when it was created and why? What is the council structure?
  • Details of the broader role of the council in the life of the family and any operating entities in which the family is involved. 
  • Governance- How are council leaders are elected? What are the positions and terms?
  • Explanation of how decision making is conducted and votes counted, as well as what occurs when there is a stalemate or conflict.
  • Overview of the council budget and how it is funded. How are financial decisions made?
  • Development of respectful communication practices that can provide a voice for each family council member in a collaborative manner.
  • Development of good meeting practices including expectations for attendance, participation, and necessary preparation.
  • Review of the past by providing the last few years of meeting agendas and minutes as available.
  • Consider designating a family member as a coach for the learning pathway time and the first year of entry to the council. A coach is typically most effective when it’s not their parent or sibling, but a member of another family branch who has been active in the council currently or in the past.

Onboarding Strategies

As the learning path is underway it is important to plan for and honor the onboarding day. What I have found impactful is a family assembly dinner where the council president welcomes the new member. The new member is asked to speak about their learning year and what most interests them about joining the council and how they plan to add value to the council activities and plans for the family. 

Alternatively, families have the new family council member use the learning year for a community service project of their choosing (possibly at college or home) and provide a summary at the dinner of why they chose that project, what they learned and what were the results or next steps. Both approaches add gravity to the role of becoming a council member and increases the maturity of the young person joining the council. 

Additional Resources

FOX's Rising Gen Forum provides the next generation with opportunities to learn, share experiences, and develop skills as leaders within families. Sessions on May 5-6, 2019 in Dallas will focus on exploring new concepts and discovering what is important to future leaders. There will also be opportunities to learn from and network with peers while building lasting relationships.

FOX also provides strategic advice and practical solutions to families as they navigate the challenges of managing their wealth for future generations. Our proven and disciplined process fosters the collaborative design of future possibilities for success. With nearly 30 years of experience in working with ultra-wealthy families, our advisory team brings a fresh and objective perspective. We design our engagements based on each family's objectives - whether through a custom-designed series of programs or a unique individual family process. Feel free to contact us to learn more.

PDF - Future of Family Learning


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