The Recipe for a Successful Family Meeting

Date: Jul 16 2018

Family Office Exchange

Family meeting season is here, and FOX members are gearing up to create learning experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. Of course, the planning likely began long ago with committee meetings and conversations to decide where to host, what to cover, and how to top last year. Making learning a key ingredient of the annual family meeting is an important investment in the future of your family. Finding ways to make this learning experiential and fun is a terrific way to embed a love of learning in your family’s culture.

In recent discussion board posts members were trading retreat location suggestions ranging from wellness and adventure retreats in Montana and the Great Smoky Mountains to hiking, fishing and golf in Colorado. Finding the right location that will entice family members to leave their busy lives is just one key ingredient. The others include:

Equal Parts Business and Fun
  • The best meetings include activities for all ages, with opportunities for cousins to learn, work and play together. Many families plan for business in the morning, fun in the afternoon, and family dinners in the evening.
  • Include updates on all aspects of the family enterprise: family traditions/initiations/accomplishments, family business, financial capital/investments, family office, philanthropy, etc.
  • One FOX member combines business and fun in a semiannual two-day workshop. Last year’s learning included sessions on the history of the family business, social media etiquette, income taxes, and trust and estate planning. Fun included a ball game, a family trivia competition (with prizes) and a museum visit.
Practical Learning to Develop Quantitative and Qualitative Competencies
  • Quantitative competencies prepare family members to be responsible managers of their financial assets and include topics such as:
    • Knowledge of trusts and fiduciary duties
    • Understanding of the fundamentals of asset allocation and investing
    • Ability to read and understand quarterly financial statements
  • Qualitative competencies help family members to live well with the wealth they have created or inherited and include topics such as:
    • Self-awareness and effective communication
    • Parenting children of wealth
    • Governance and decision-making skills
The Best Possible Advice
  • The average FOX family oversees relationships with 27 different trusted advisors, from accountants and attorneys to insurance providers and investment consultants. These trusted advisors can be excellent teachers and bring their unique knowledge of your family circumstances to their presentations at the family meeting.
  • Invest time to prepare all outside speakers to deliver their content in a manner that will be engaging and meaningful for family members with varied levels of interest and aptitude.
Continuous Improvement: Review, Reflect, Reform
  • Use a simple survey monkey survey and/or build time into the meeting wrap up to gather feedback on what worked well and what can be improved. Ask for topics and activities for the next meeting.
  • Rely on this survey feedback and conversations throughout the year to develop the agenda for next year’s meeting and demonstrate your desire to meet each family member where they are on their learning journey.

To learn more about how your peers are working to engage and prepare the rising generations of their families, download the “Future of Family Learning.