Close filter
Industries

Family Business Advisory

Many of the most respected, best performing companies in the world are family-owned. With their long-term vision and high capacity to create employment, family businesses are a major growth driver in most national economies and make unique contributions to society in general.

Despite their inherent strengths and global economic significance, family-owned companies face unique vulnerabilities. Potential sources of discord among family members loom around every corner: generational transitions, major investment decisions, appropriation of profits, leadership appointments. After all, why should entrepreneurial families be less quarrelsome than any other group of relatives? The consequences of their disputes, however, can be more serious and far-reaching. Conflict is, perhaps, the greatest destroyer of value in family firms.

For family-owned companies to sustain dynamic progress across generations, they need to manage the inherent conflict between family and business on a consistent basis. Finding an equilibrium that leverages the best aspects of both family and business is difficult, but if done well, offers handsome rewards. This is the art of family business management.

Egon Zehnder’s Family Business Advisory assists families, owners, and managers in navigating the challenges of leadership, succession, and governance across generations. Based on decades of experience serving many of the world’s finest family companies, we know that the critical first step in this journey is to build alignment among family members around the family’s philosophy and approach to business and ownership. With this in mind, our Family Business Advisors work closely with family members and owners to create an environment conducive to driving the best people decisions in their specific context.

Business and Family Governance Consulting

It is important to articulate a governance framework that separates business from ownership and defines a clear process for families and owners to resolve family and business issues. This could take the form of Family Councils, Owners’ Councils, Advisory Boards, etc. Our Family Business Advisors bring global knowledge and experience to help you craft the appropriate governance frameworks and define the remit of these bodies. Based on a clear assessment of the strategy and the ownership structure, we proactively assist our clients in the competency-based selection of independent directors and advisors to bring these governance mechanisms to life. For many of our family business clients, we also periodically review the effectiveness of these governance bodies.

Founder and Next Generation Transitions

Founder transition is an emotional and challenging issue that faces every family business at some time. Each generational transition is an opportunity to reflect on the future strategy and the ownership and management structure. Preparing for this transition in advance is critical to the continued success of the business. This process needs to be thoughtfully planned rather than managed only as an eventuality. We assist family companies in planning for transition by obtaining an accurate picture of existing family talents and their motivations, benchmarking them against the best available internal and external resources (especially in the critical phase of founder transition), and analyzing their potential, using a unique methodology, in the context of the future strategy of the business and the vision of the family.

Ensuring objectivity and meritocracy in appointments is vital to the long-term success of a family business. We are frequently asked by our clients to evaluate and assess next generation family leaders with the objective of identifying fitting roles for the family members and to develop plans for grooming these individuals to fully realize their potential.

Family and Non-Family CXO Succession

Succession is one of the biggest inflection points in a family business. Getting it right is critical. Therefore, succession needs to be planned well in advance and the process needs to be executed thoroughly. Egon Zehnder works with the key stakeholders to prepare a succession process that encompasses both internal and external candidates, building alignment across generations and ensuring that the role and responsibilities are clearly articulated and understood. In all these decisions it is important that there is a good fit between family values and culture and the individual’s value systems. For many family firms, recruiting top executives from outside the family represents a major challenge. At the start of such assignments, we ensure all stakeholders are aligned regarding the expectations and profile of the senior executive to be attracted. By drawing up value- and competency-based CXO position profiles, Egon Zehnder helps your family company identify and evaluate relevant internal and external, family and non-family candidates.

Independent of the candidate being a family or non-family member, the integration during the first six months is vital for receiving the expected value and impact. In respect to this particular phase we provide an Accelerated Integration service which helps the new family or non-family candidate to fill out the position successfully and achieve the expected performance. In respect to non-family CXOs it is even more crucial to gain the trust of the family and to adapt to their working style.

Assured Results

We pride ourselves on the fact that most of our client relationships are long-term. We earn your loyalty by being energetically responsive to your needs and tenaciously committed to the legacy and ongoing success of your family business. We perceive ourselves as an equal, global partnership. Our values and philosophy are very similar to family firms and we are uniquely qualified to understand the dynamics and challenges particularly in respect to governance and succession issues of family business environments. Our goal across all our services is to help you make better people decisions for critical roles, systematically increase your leaders’ readiness to take on bigger challenges, build a sustainable talent pipeline, and ensure that your family business has the diverse strengths required to sustain competitive advantage.


Family Business Advisory Consultants

Michael Meier

Michael Meier

Düsseldorf

Global Lead

Michael Meier is co-head of the firm’s global Family Business Advisory. He works closely with numerous family entrepreneurs and management on… Read more

Elaine Yew

Elaine Yew

Singapore

Global Lead

Elaine Yew is a Senior Partner in Egon Zehnder and the Global Co-Head for our Family Business and Family Office Practice. Read more

Jason Hecker

Jason Hecker

Chicago

US Lead

Based in Chicago, Jason Hecker is active in Egon Zehnder’s Consumer and Industrial practices. Read more

Olli Laurén

Olli Laurén

Washington, D.C.

Olli Lauren serves as a senior adviser in Washington DC. He is also a member of Egon Zehnder’s Global Machinery & Industrial Technology practice. Read more

YaoSong Chen

YaoSong Chen

Washington, D.C.

Yao Chen, based in Washington DC, advises automotive and machinery companies on C-suite succession and board consulting. Read more

Julie Kalt

Julie Kalt

Boston

Julie Kalt, based in Boston, is a leader in Egon Zehnder’s Leadership Advisory Practice. Julie partners with clients on leadership assessment… Read more

Justin Casazza

Justin Casazza

Chicago Office Leader, Minneapolis

Justin Casazza is Managing Partner of Egon Zehnder’s Chicago Office and co-leader of the firm’s Business Services Practice globally. He works across… Read more

Michael Portland

Michael Portland

Chicago

Michael Portland is a member of Egon Zehnder’s CEO and Board Consulting practices and has deep expertise in CEO and C-suite succession, executive… Read more

Karl Alleman

Karl Alleman

Chicago

Karl Alleman has a long track record of helping large multinationals, family-owned enterprises, and private equity firms solve their most important… Read more

German Herrera

German Herrera

Miami

Based in Miami, German Herrera leads Egon Zehnder in the United States, the Firm’s largest and most dynamic market. Read more

Gabi Carvalho

Gabi Carvalho

Miami

Gabi Carvalho co-leads Egon Zehnder’s Global Financial Services Practice focusing on Payments, Retail Banking, FinTech and Insurance. Read more

Ed Camara

Ed Camara

Miami, Toronto

Based in Miami, Edilson Camara is Egon Zehnder’s Chief Executive Officer. Drawing on his deep experience in natural resources and heavy industry… Read more

Heather O’Keefe

Heather O’Keefe

Houston Office Leader

Heather O’Keefe heads Egon Zehnder’s Houston office and is an active member of the Firm’s Consumer, Board and Chief Executive Officers practices. Read more

Wendi Zhang

Wendi Zhang

Palo Alto

Based in Palo Alto, Wendi Zhang is an active member of Egon Zehnder’s Technology & Communications and Consumer Products practices. Read more

David Ain

David Ain

Toronto Office Leader, Montreal Office Leader

David Ain is the Managing Partner for Egon Zehnder in Canada and leads the firm's Private Capital Practice in the country. Read more

Pamela Warren

Pamela Warren

Toronto, Montreal

Pamela Warren, co-Head of our North American Board and CEO Practice, brings deep expertise in leadership at the highest corporate levels.… Read more


Thought Leadership | Family Business Advisory

Read more insights
Pacific Northwest's Influence

Pacific Northwest's Influence

Phyllis Campbell, Former Chair of JPMorgan Chase, Pacific Northwest Region, talks career, board diversity and succession planning. Read more

Lessons from Large Family Firms About Choosing a CEO

Lessons from Large Family Firms About Choosing a CEO

Research shows that large family businesses had much better succession practices than their nonfamily counterparts, and they outperformed on several measures after new appointees… Read more

Blazing a Trail: Women in Leadership | Vinati Saraf

Blazing a Trail: Women in Leadership | Vinati Saraf

In conversation with Vinati Saraf Mutreja, Managing Director and CEO of Vinati Organics Ltd. Read more

The CFO Effect

The CFO Effect

Strong finance leadership plays a key role, not just as a guardian of processes, but also a driver of strategy and influence on culture. Read more

A Call for Human-Centric Governance

A Call for Human-Centric Governance

Family-owned businesses must acknowledge the importance of people and remuneration issues in companies to effectively fulfill their functions. Read more

AI Won’t Replace Human Distinctiveness

AI Won’t Replace Human Distinctiveness

The fear of AI making us obsolete has become increasingly popularized, but is it really necessary? But the truth is, AI is here to… Read more

Growing the Family Office Future with Talent and Compensation

Growing the Family Office Future with Talent and Compensation

Family offices have existed for generations and there are more now than ever before. With the market growing and changing, the question of talent… Read more

How Family Businesses Can Compete for Talent

How Family Businesses Can Compete for Talent

Egon Zehnder Consultant Sonny Iqbal and Alum Claudio Fernández-Aráoz on four imperatives family businesses can stay true to that will create opportunities to leapfrog… Read more

Building Continuity in the Family Enterprise

Building Continuity in the Family Enterprise

Diving into the key challenges faced by family enterprise leaders, and the solutions to achieve sustainable wealth. Read more

Sustaining Wealth Through a Well-defined Shared Family Capital Strategy

Sustaining Wealth Through a Well-defined Shared Family Capital Strategy

As family businesses diversify, fewer owners have a holistic view of all assets. A new Shared Family Capital Strategy created by PwC, Egon Zehnder,… Read more

Family Business & Sustainability - Expert Interview with German Herrera

Family Business & Sustainability - Expert Interview with German Herrera

The Sustainability Board Report sat down virtually with German Herrera of Egon Zehnder to better understand the dynamics of family business and their approach… Read more

Avoiding CEO Succession Planning Pitfalls

Avoiding CEO Succession Planning Pitfalls

Family company Boards must create and maintain strong succession plans that consider both internal and external talent, as well as development plans for potential… Read more

Changing language
Close icon

You are switching to an alternate language version of the Egon Zehnder website. The page you are currently on does not have a translated version. If you continue, you will be taken to the alternate language home page.

Continue to the website

Back to top