Center for Family Business

Helping families address issues at the

intersection of family and business

The Center for Family Business seeks to help family businesses and their owners achieve their objectives and address issues where family and business intersect. We provide advice, insights and resources on a range of topics related to family business ownership, derived from years of honing our deep subject-matter expertise and stewarding an institution that began as a family business itself over 200 years ago.

2023 Private Business Owner Survey

BBH presents its 2023 Private Business Owner Survey, which was conducted to see how owners are addressing current economic conditions, future succession planning, and family communication dynamics. Read the results.

Owner to Owner Fall Issue 2023

In this issue of Owner to Owner, we explore strategies for successful communication in a private business, examine factors that come into consideration when debating whether now is time to sell the family business, and review key findings from our inaugural Private Business Owner Survey.

How We Work with Family Businesses

The next generation had recently inherited control of a multigenerational family business and was struggling with maintaining family harmony while managing the family and business. Family relationships were tense, and there was frustration with how distributions were being made across generations.

BBH met with the family members to understand the sources of tension and worked with the family over a period of years to help them understand and work through these issues, many of which were related to legacy and balancing the capital demands of the business and family. After identifying the issues and how to address them, we helped the family develop and implement methods to restore harmony.

A third-generation family business was struggling with disagreement around succession planning and the direction of the business. While leadership in the third generation wanted to grow the business, the second generation was risk-averse and sought liquidity. In addition, the CEO was nearing retirement, but the ideal successor – the youngest member of the third generation – was not interested in taking over the business.

BBH helped organize a family meeting where all generations could communicate their issues as well as their vision for the business and the family. With everything on the table, the family worked to identify their options for the future of the business and determined how to align this with everyone’s needs.

The four owners of a family business disagreed on how to handle liquidity and dividends. The two owners who were active in the business wanted to reinvest the large majority of liquidity every year in order to grow. However, the two nonactive owners, who were receiving limited dividends, resented this. They worried the active owners would draw a bigger salary as the business grew more profitable.

BBH worked alongside the family and a valuation company to identify the common reinvestment rate among companies in the same industry. Taking this information and the needs of the parties involved into consideration, the family developed a solution.

An owner was looking for a way to professionalize his company in order to grow the business and maximize value. He decided to form an advisory board that would provide long-term governance and oversight for the management team.

BBH walked the owner through the process and considerations when building an advisory board. We developed criteria for members, helped the owner vet prospects and provided additional guidance. In addition, BBH helped with the agenda for the board’s quarterly meetings.

A multigenerational family-owned transportation services company was evaluating investing in a technology that had the potential to reshape the industry.

BBH helped the family throughout the potential investment process by leveraging our expertise and network. We developed an independent perspective on the technology, assessed the competitive landscape and facilitated introductions to other potential technology partners, assisted with due diligence and suggested investment alternatives. Armed with a wealth of information, the family ultimately determined it could achieve its goals through a commercial agreement instead of a capital commitment.

The Center for Family Business works with clients to address their unique family business challenges in the following areas:

This graphic shows the different areas where BBH helps family businesses as they strive to balance the needs of the family and the business. These areas include: defining legacy and the future of the business, succession planning – managing and ownership, building a support team, distributions and family liquidity, capital policies, employment policies, governance and communications and balancing competing interests.

If you need help working through issues related to governance, transition, or succession, let’s talk. Email us at

Buy-Sell Agreements: The Key to Low-Conflict Exits in Family Business

Setting up a proper buy-sell agreement is key to mitigating conflict when a stakeholder wants to leave the family business.

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This communication is for informational purposes only.  The information herein has not been based on a consideration of any individual investor’s circumstances and is not investment advice, nor should it be construed in any way as tax, accounting, legal or regulatory advice.  Individuals should consult their personal tax, accounting and legal advisers regarding any potential investment or strategy.  Any views and opinions are subject to change at any time.

This material does not constitute an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where or to any person to whom it would be unauthorized to do so.


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