Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Discusses Ways to Conduct a Productive Family Meeting
Family meetings offer families the opportunity to think and talk about the future and the decisions they may have to make. These meetings can also provide the family with opportunities to have important educational and legacy discussions.
Family meetings offer families the opportunity to think and talk about the future and the decisions they may have to make. These meetings can also provide the family with opportunities to have important educational and legacy discussions. With careful planning and execution, a family meeting can achieve realistic and meaningful outcomes that reward everyone’s efforts.
Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust recommends considering the following when having a family meeting:
Planning the Meeting: Not to be taken lightly, family meetings require extensive pre-planning and know-how to move the communication past normal dinner-time conversation. There are many matters to consider prior to holding such a meeting.
- The leadership of the family must be committed to the process. Most often, these are the wealth creators and family decision-makers. Their participation is vital to inviting family member involvement and promoting the exchange of information.
- Consider an outside facilitator. A neutral, non-family member may have an easier time keeping a meeting on track without judgment or emotion.
- Decide who will participate. First generation? Second generation? In-laws? Spouses? Kids, and at what age? The decision will be different for every family, depending upon what needs to be discussed and, of course, family dynamics. A few tips: Do not force participation. Work towards greater inclusion of family members. Move towards complete transparency.
- Meet with each attendee to set expectations and ask for input. In this important step, it is vital that the family member who is running the meeting clearly set expectations for the meeting. What is the purpose of the meeting? Are there any topics that are off-limits? Is there anything the attendee feels strongly about?
- In planning the agenda, consider what knowledge you want younger generations to take away from the meeting. Good options include understanding the family’s investment mix, discussing the family’s values, deciding upon a philanthropic objective, identifying a decision-making process, and putting in place a management plan for shared assets such as vacation homes.
- Include an educational element in the agenda. This could be older generations sharing stories of how the wealth was created, how the family business was started, an investment lesson, philanthropic options, etc.
- Start small. The first few family meetings do not need to be three-day weekend retreats. Keep it simple and the family’s needs will dictate the agenda and time commitment of each meeting.
During the Meeting
- Focus on the future. The family meeting is not the place to resolve past issues. This will help you stay with the agenda.
- The family meeting is not a therapy session. Personal issues must stay outside as you discuss the matters at hand.
- Meaningful discussions are encouraged, arguing is not.
- Ask someone to take minutes. You are creating an important archive of your family’s history which will be cherished by future generations.
- Take appropriate breaks for the amount of time you are meeting. Provide snacks if the meeting is to last more than a few hours.
Following the Meeting
- Talk again with each attendee and ask for feedback. What worked? What can be improved? Can the next meeting be more inclusive? What additional information can be shared?
- Distribute the minutes to the attendees.
- Schedule the date for next meeting.
About Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust Established in 1994, Gibraltar Private is an integrated private banking and wealth management company dedicated to enhancing the wealth and well-being of its clients and their families. Gibraltar offers residential and commercial lending, private banking and wealth management services to professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, affluent retirees, and select businesses. Gibraltar Private has eight full-service banking offices with its headquarters in Coral Gables, offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Miami Beach, South Miami, Naples, Ocean Reef and New York, and a loan production office in Aspen, Colo.
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