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Villa d’Este panel debate highlights governance challenges

December 16, 2022
A focus on governance alone cannot solve the fundamental challenges facing large and growing families, but it can provide a robust structure and process for resolution. Family governance was just one of the panel session topics explored at November’s International Private Client Forum at Villa d’Este in Lake Como.

The event brought together leading international private client lawyers and experts from around the world to focus on and discuss the key current and future issues facing families. In attendance were Crestbridge Fiduciary’s Betty Andrikopoulos, Heather Tibbo, and Daniel Channing

Betty also moderated a session entitled ‘Family Governance– binding or bunk?’, which explored the value of formal family governance in the context of varying and often unspoken and conflicting individual views. Featuring expert panellists Nick Jacob, Partner at Forsters, and Piers Barclay, Partner at Macfarlanes, the session brought a number of key issues to the surface, including:

- multiple family members inevitably have different priorities and philosophies and tying them together is often very difficult and, in some cases, impossible. Family constitutions and charters can be quite useful, but it’s important to act on those documents and not let them fall into a black hole;

- family disputes are unavoidable and no governance framework can mitigate dysfunction or poor family dynamics – but having a governance process in place can bring different perspectives to the table to help family members find some consensus and alignment on shared values and priorities; and

- strong family culture, values and ‘buy-in’ are the underpinnings of families who communicate effectively. If these are in place, a solid family governance process can help families improve decision-making within and across generations.

Commenting after the event, Betty said:

“We live in a world where regulation, scrutiny and governance are at the heart of everything a family does, from investing to business operations to wealth transfer and succession planning. Family governance is a complex topic, and this session brought to life some of the practical challenges families and family advisors face when it comes to integrating governance frameworks into their overall family structure.

Governance can not only be a thorny issue, but also a time-consuming process. However, it is clear that family governance is a critical consideration, particularly for large families with multiple stakeholders and members. Having a set of structures and processes can be helpful in providing a means to our solution on issues, enabling a family to move forward.”

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