Since FFI went live with The Practitioner Wednesday Edition almost five months ago, we’ve brought you the latest thinking and research in family enterprise. But today we’re introducing a new element: an interview series with leading figures in the field beginning with FFI board chair Mark Evans. Mark shares his thoughts on FFI, key issues facing families, as well as some next-gen trends. So without further ado, here is Mark, in his own words!
The Practitioner: Tell me a little about your career.
Mark Evans: I’ve spent 30 years in private banking at Citigroup, JPMorgan and Coutts based out of London and Geneva. During that time, I have worked with families of wealth from the UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia, doing everything from lending against Greek busts and classic cars to orchestrating teams managing hundreds of millions of pounds of investments.
Practitioner: How did you first get involved with family businesses?
Evans: I first got involved in the field when launching the JPMorgan Family Business Honours with the Institute for Family Business and London Business School. In the course of three years I met hundreds of UK family business owners and became hooked on the world of family business and philanthropy. So much so, in fact, that I jumped at the opportunity to set up the family business and philanthropy team at Coutts in 2005 and launched the Coutts Prize for Family Business. UK family business owners have never had so much to celebrate!
Practitioner: What is your current position at Coutts?
Evans: I run the Coutts Institute. The focus is still on family business and philanthropy research, education and advisory services, but also includes wealth succession, gender and next generation issues, social enterprise and much more. I am particularly proud of having had the opportunity to launch publications such as the Coutts Million Pound Donors Report, and events such as the Coutts Forums for Family Business Owners and Philanthropy. Most importantly, my years as a private banker meant I had the experience from the start to work with clients tackling complex situations.
Practitioner: When did you become a member of FFI and how has your involvement grown over the years?
Evans: I became an FFI member in 2005, attended my first FFI Conference in San Francisco in 2006, and was appointed to the Board that same year. I then became Secretary in 2009 and was invited to become Chair in 2011. FFI has so much to offer in terms of knowledge and depth of experience, I can’t imagine being a family business adviser who is not an FFI member.
Practitioner: I can see that you have long been a champion for FFI and the field. What did you do to promote FFI before you became FFI Chair?
Evans: Well, I started by enrolling Coutts as an organisational member and encouraged other Coutts employees to sign up for the FFI Certificate programmes and attend the annual conferences. We have made obtaining an FFI Certificate a condition of consulting with clients. Besides which there are some great discounts available for organisations! I then arranged for FFI to run a Certificate in Family Wealth Advising course for 50 Coutts and STEP professionals in London.
Practitioner: What do you bring to FFI as Chair?
Evans: Certainly I bring the same passion and commitment to the field that previous Chairs have shown, as well as the ability to leverage 30 years of contacts outside the US. I can’t help thinking that we are only scratching the surface of what FFI can do given the extraordinary number of family businesses in the world and the tremendous challenges they are facing right now.
Practitioner: What are a few of the trends that you see emerging in the field?
Evans: Not only are we seeing increasing numbers of family business owners who are not involved in the management of the family business, but we are also noticing increasing focus by family business owners on matching the values of new recruits to their own. In addition, the next generation seem to be thinking more deliberately about the pros and cons of joining the family business; more women are willing and able to take on senior, more visible roles within the family business and there is an increasing focus on wealth creation. With this in mind, Coutts has joined forces with a number of leading FFI figures to launch a series of new briefing papers over the next six months.
Practitioner: What are your goals as Chair of FFI?
Evans: My goals are FFI’s goals. Specifically to make FFI “the trusted resource – advancing the field of family enterprise”.
I was fortunate enough to be on the FFI Strategic Planning Committee and am particularly interested in forging strategic alliances with organisations like STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), for example, and was delighted when David Harvey, STEP CEO agreed to join the FFI Board. There is so much more potential for collaboration.
FFI is still a very well-kept secret globally and yet there is so much to shout about: the Brussels Conference 17 – 20th October, the FFI GEN Certificates in Family Business Advising (CFBA) and Family Wealth Advising (CFWA), and, most recently, Family Business Review being named a ‘Rising Star journal’ in the fields of Economics and Business by Thomson Reuters to name but a few.
Practitioner: Thank you so much for the interview and sharing with The Practitioner readers. Any final remarks?
Evans: It would be great to hear what’s on people’s minds. If there are questions I can’t answer, I can always forward the email to Judy Green, FFI president. Judy will definitely know! Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing everyone in Brussels!
About The Contributor
Mark Evans is the founder and head of the Coutts Institute, which he established in 2005. Having launched the Coutts Forums for Family Business and Philanthropy, the Coutts Prize for Family Business and the Coutts Million Pound Donors Report, Mark now works with clients across UK, Middle East and Asia. He has over 30 years private banking experience, with senior roles at Citigroup London and Geneva, acting as a credit specialist, senior private banker and market region head for UK, Scandinavia and Israel. He is Chair of the Family Firm Institute and a former member of the Advisory Council of the Institute for Family Business in the UK, the Professional Advisers Council for the Community Foundation Network, and the Steering Group of Philanthropy Advisers. Mark Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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