Some time ago, I was invited to present our business transition capabilities to a well-known talent agency in Beverly Hills. The owner and founder of the firm was 94 years old at the time, and surprisingly was just beginning to think about his succession plan. His kids were already old enough to be collecting Social Security. His sons had only a tepid interest in carrying on the father’s business but recognized that there would be a continuity problem if the issue wasn’t addressed soon. Yet, the father was trying to extract maximum value from the sale of his business to the sons. “Why?” they asked. “You have $100 million in the bank! How much money do you need?” The father replied that he felt it was important to get as much money as he possibly could so he could provide for their mother in her old age–she was also 94. Most would probably say his reluctance wasn’t rational or truly based on financial considerations.
The lesson is that one’s relationship with a client and his or her children may require that advisors surround themselves with compatible expertise in the areas of succession planning, psychology, counseling, or social work to deal with family conflicts over money, charitable strategies, and in some cases, financial planning itself. Unfortunately, many advisors have let these skills atrophy as they focused mostly on investment allocation in recent years.