Matijas: How do the institutions such as European Family Business help family business to achieve better policy and legal framework to support their long-term continuity?
Casado: EFB, with the support of its national members, reviews and analyses the policy and legal framework in the EU and highlights the areas that act as a barrier to long-term continuity. In addition, it publicises and promotes the best practices across Europe and seeks to give pertinent arguments for its national members to use to convince their respective national government to reform a certain policy or legal obstacle for family businesses.
Matijas: What are the main future challenges for these institutions?
Casado: The future challenges for EFB can be divided as external or internal. The external challenges for EFB are ensuring that the legal and political environment for family businesses remain competitive for them to thrive both domestically and internationally. Firstly, the issue of gaining explicit recognition of the family business via robust yearly statistics is a major challenge and must be addressed. Secondly, the maintenance and improvement of the fiscal and legal environment for family businesses that transfer their companies to the next generation is also a priority for EFB. Thirdly, a rebalancing of taxation systems in Europe must be made to ensure that equity is treated in a similar way as debt for the financing of family businesses.
The two major internal challenges for representative bodies such as EFB, are member engagement and proving utility to the membership. Firstly, member engagement is essential to operate effectively; if you do not receive information or feedback from your members with regards to a certain issue, then you cannot represent them effectively. Secondly, proving that your actions have had a positive effect on the legal and political environment is not an easy endeavour. In business, you make an investment and you see your return. In lobbying, it is much more subtle and it takes more time to see results.
Matijas: How do different interactions and networking between family business forums encourage their growth and development?
Casado: Interactions between family businesses are essential for the exchange of best practices, be it in governance, or other general business issues. Through dialogue and open discourse among business owners who implicitly share the same values, family businesses can gain insight into the operations and working of other family companies; through this insight they can modify their modus operandi for the better of the company and family.
Matijas: How can the talent that resides within the family businesses be better employed in creating synergies that foment economic and social development on larger scale?
Casado: Education! Through education from an early age, you can help business owners feel responsible to the society they live in. At the same time, encouraging the participation of business families to networks where they share common values and challenges helps them feel responsible in their important role to contribute to society, both locally in the community where they live and, on a larger scale, influencing the policy makers to create a better environment for business to create jobs and growth.
Matijas: How does seeking support from experts and advisors help family enterprises advocate and educate for their own wellbeing?
Casado: A family business must first and foremost recognize that it needs outside assistance to face certain challenges. With an open attitude and willingness to listen, experts or advisors can be an objective and neutral voice to assist the family in its development. As a consequence, on sensitive issues that the family cannot resolve, experts or advisors can act as the bridge and resolve challenges such as governance or succession.
About the contributor:
Jesús Casado Navarro-Rubio, a member of the FFI board of directors, is joint CEO at Family Business Institute in Spain and secretary general of European Family Businesses, an organization of 12 countries in the EU, representing more than 10,000 family businesses. Jesús can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boris Matijas is a journalist, writer and expert on training and information dissemination of content on family business research. He is a member of the Editorial Committee of The Practitioner, editor of In Family Business (IESE Business School), Family Business Tranformation (ESADE Business School) and contributor to the Family Business Chair (IESE Business School). Boris can be reached at email@example.com.