Keeping the business in the family and the family in business: “What is the legacy?”

John Tucker (The International Centre for Families in Business, Bristol, UK, and Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Journal of Family Business Management

ISSN: 2043-6238

Publication date: 22 April 2011



Most advisors to family business clients come from the legal, accountancy or business advisory professions. Their training, experience and knowledge come from a technical/transactional perspective and often takes a silo approach to the issue(s) facing the client. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that in dealing with family business clients the professional advisor needs to take into consideration the very powerful emotional and relational issues that will impact on the more traditional “expert advice” approach. This article also suggests that no one group of professional advisors have all the skills needed to work successfully with family business clients and collaborative working is the way of ensuring family business clients receive the most effective professional support. Design/methodology/approach – The approach taken is to outline – from experience of working with both professional advisors and family business clients – how emotional relationships impact on decision making in a family business. The approach is anecdotal and is based on listening to people's stories of living in a family business. It takes from music, particularly lyrics, to outline the main points made and is designed to give professional advisors to family business clients an insight into the world of family relationships. Findings – There is growing evidence in the UK of a real desire on the part of professional intermediaries to enhance their skills and knowledge in working with family business clients. This is evidenced by the creation of a Post Graduate Programme in Family Business Advising for professional intermediaries at the Bristol Business School and the growing number of professional firms taking up Corporate Membership of The International Centre for Families in Business to increase their knowledge and understanding. Research limitations/implications – This is not a research paper, it is a viewpoint. However, the work indicates many areas of future research, particularly around the training and development of advisors wanting to work with family business clients. Social implications – The failure rate of family‐owned business to pass successfully from generation to generation is around 70 per cent. The family business community accounts for over 50 per cent of employment in the private sector and employs millions of people. The impact on local and national economies is huge and the professional advice received has to take into account the unique issues facing the family in business. Originality/value – This article is based on the author's own experience of working with family business clients, listening to music and working collaboratively with professional intermediary colleagues. Most of the article is original thinking and the author believes it has value for both families in business and their advisors in setting out a framework and a way of thinking.



Tucker, J. (2011), "Keeping the business in the family and the family in business: “What is the legacy?”", Journal of Family Business Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 65-73.

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