By Yusra Barmaz
If succession planning is so important, why isn’t it an absolute priority for wealthy families and business owners? It seems like a simple question, but succession planning isn’t always given as much precedence as you’d think – often for good reason.
For many wealthy families, most of their liquid assets are generated from a business that creates significant wealth. Managing the business – and wealth – is often more than a full-time job. For many of our clients, focusing on their business takes up significant time that easily surpasses a 60-hour work week. If you consider extensive travel (pre-pandemic, of course), packed agendas, meetings in different time zones and the day-to-day running of the business, it’s easy to see how there’s actually very little time for the practicalities of succession planning.
Streamlining succession planning
Succession planning can be challenging, especially in the context of running a successful business that needs full attention and lots of time. While the 2020 pandemic has made entrepreneurs and business owners realise the importance of succession planning, it has also created an issue. In the present climate, family-run businesses are likely to need guidance and leadership to steer them through economic disruption, employee’s return to the office, and new ways of conducting business. In other words, the family business is likely to need more, not less attention than before.
‘We’ve seen significant uptake in clients and prospects asking for our support to get succession planning structures in place. Equally, we’ve been asked for speed and efficiency to match. Clients want to ensure experts are supporting them and that we have a good relationship, but at the moment their focus might really be elsewhere – usually on managing the business and keeping their staff safe. Now more than ever before we’ve really seen that clients just want to get succession planning done and off the to-do list. We’re always available to spend a lot of time in contact with our clients if they need us, but equally, we are happy to work in the background alongside family advisors to fulfil our duties, if that’s a preferred option,’ says Mario Cohn, ZEDRA Managing Director Switzerland.
Where to start
If clients have the right documentation and advisors have given guidance on structuring, taxes and other relevant considerations, ZEDRA’s team can expedite a client’s structures and set these up in a minimum timeframe.
It’s also possible that a client isn’t sure about what they need or where to start, and we can accommodate that, going at a slower pace, too. ‘Many of our clients haven’t worked with advisors or service providers before, and they want to take things a little bit more gently. Approachability, accessibility and a very personalised service are in high demand. With these clients, we work to help them understand all the steps we’re taking, why and how it fits with their plans and the instructions of their advisors. While speed is often of the essence, a more hands-on and relaxed approach is also appreciated. Whatever our clients need from us in the context of succession planning, we’re always happy to cater to their needs,’ says Mario, in conclusion.