Active family ownership

Family ownership is one of the most important and successful ownership types – both in Denmark and globally. However, it varies a lot weather or not family-owned companies are able to harness the competitive advantage of their ownership structure in the long run.

By developing the active family ownership, the owner can work in the tension field between family and business and use the ownership as an advantage rather than a threat.

At H&B, we have many years of experience with the development of active ownership in Denmark’s most successful family-owned companies.

What is it about?

Active family ownership is essentially about managing both the ‘hard’ and the ‘soft’ parts of the ownership. In other words, it entails the ability to manage the dynamics between family, ownership and business.

It is our experience that problems in one of these three areas can have an unintended effect on the other areas. For example, can a conflict in the family result in lack of clarification of roles and responsibilities in the ownership and ultimately lead to inadequate governance and management of the business.

Therefore, the essence of a good active family ownership is based on the ability to support the family in its development of the ownership. Clarification internally in the family will contribute positively to the implementation of the active family ownership and ultimately to the performance of the business.

Points to pay attention to in family ownership

Family

  • Lack of solidarity – one or more parties feel left outside
  • Lack of awareness of common core values
  • Failure to thrive in the family and inadequate management of conflicts
  • Disorganised initiatives of varying quality for growth in and preservation of family wealth
  • Inadequate optimisation of private wealth and tax planning
  • Aimless and ineffective involvement in philanthropic initiatives

Ownership

  • Missing link between family values and implementation of the ownership
  • No clear contribution from the family to the ownership
  • Uncertainty of generational change and unclear roles
  • Lack of agreement on the involvement and employment of family members, in-laws and close family
  • Wasted potential due to lack of development and education of next generation

Business

  • Unclear identity of new role in the business or of the sale of the business
  • Inadequate management and governance structure for the operating businesses
  • Lack of professionalisation in staffing of boards and top management
  • Mismatch between family values and corporate culture
  • Short-term optimisation that threatens long-term survival

How we work with active family ownership

To be the best owner of the company, the family should establish a good and active ownership. Our experiences show that the best way to work with the family’s ownership is to create a process involving relevant family members in the discussion of the following key issues:

 

  • Ownership purpose – including essential circumstances such as values, mission and principles
  • Ownership structure – including ownership model, employment of family members and dealing with disagreements
  • Ownership management – including a clarification of ownership bodies and activities

“H&B gave us valuable advice about the development of our future family office. Together we defined the unique contribution of the family ownership and the framework for its implementation, all based on our family constitution and ownership strategy. As a result, the family and the management group are completely clear about the family members’ individual and shared roles. The project team from H&B understood exactly who we are as a company and what is important to us, and the consultants demonstrated great empathy in their dealings with all members of the organisation.”

Mikkel Hammershøj

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SELFINVEST FAMILY OFFICE

Read more client testimonials

Is your family ready to develop an active ownership?

If your answer is “no” to one or more of the following questions, working with your active ownership will most likely benefit your family and business:

 

  • Are the ownership mission and values clear and do they permeate the management of the business?
  • Has your family clarified the upcoming generational change or the process of clarification
  • Are family roles and responsibilities as well as the rights and obligations clear to active and passive members?
  • Do you find that the family DNA makes a unique contribution to the business?
  • Are you always able to manage conflicts or disputes in the family constructively without risking a negative spill-over effect on the business?

Contact

If you want to hear more about active family ownership or how we can help your company, please contact Managing Partner Søren Brandi at +45 3062 7972 or sb@hildebrandtbrandi.com.

Søren advises owners, boards, and executive boards in several leading companies. He has great experience advising on active family ownership, family offices as well as the potential and the challenges involved in creating development over generations.

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