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Taking over a family business is no easy matter. Through personalised support and a set of tried and tested programmes, Banque de Luxembourg encourages the younger generation to better define their future place in the family business.

Seventy per cent of SMEs in Luxembourg are family businesses. And because this is currently a time of transition from the baby boomer generation to the next, many of them will change hands between 2020 and 2030. Many of these businesses will stay in the family, taken over by one or more of the children. Although it might appear easier to transfer a family business ‘internally’, it may not all be plain sailing.

In families in business, young people are often confronted very early on with the subject of succession. But they also have a lot of questions, which can sometimes be difficult to raise in the family setting. Charles Sunnen, Business Adviser at Banque de Luxembourg

Acting as a facilitator

The transfer of a business is an important moment in the life of an entrepreneur, but it is also a major step for the members of the next generation. To help families answer their questions and facilitate communication between the current generation and the next, it is important to be able to count on a third party to help take a step back. This is where Banque de Luxembourg acts as a facilitator.

“In our dedicated team for businesses and entrepreneurs, we support families over the long term. In many cases, we have been by their side for several generations. This is essential, as it’s a role that touches on family intimacy," explains Charles Sunnen. One of our main tasks is to facilitate communication between the family members, to get them round the table so they can understand each other's expectations.” »

Based on this appraisal, a roadmap and an action plan are drawn up to ensure that the transfer is carried out in such a way as to ensure the continuity of the estate, while preserving family harmony.

“We often suggest putting things in writing, generally through a family charter or a shareholders' agreement. These considerations help everyone agree on the vision for the business, the family’s values, the future governance of the business, and the conditions of access for the next generation," Charles Sunnen adds. Of course, we also help families with the technical aspects of transferring shares, whether it's a buy-out or a donation, and we make them aware of the importance of determining the value of the business.” »

A summer academy to share ideas

Representatives of the younger generation can find it difficult to define their position with regard to the eventual handover.

Do they really want to take over the business?

Would they prefer to work for it but not own it?

Do they want to leave the family business completely and do something else?

At 18, everyone has a degree of uncertainty about what they want for the future... or they may simply have difficulty expressing it. To put the younger generation of families in business in the best position to open up about their doubts, their questions, or their legitimacy in relation to the business, Banque de Luxembourg has been developing programmes for more than 10 years now. These have proved highly successful.

"The first programme we offer is the Summer Academy. Every year this brings together 15 to 20 young people aged between 18 and 25. For four days in the summer, these young people from business families have a chance to ask their questions, discuss their doubts, and hear personal accounts from entrepreneurs with direct experience in this area," explains Anne Goedert, Family Practice Adviser at Banque de Luxembourg.

The real value of this programme is to help these young people, who are not yet involved in the business, see that they are not the only ones with the same questions.

"They often keep in touch with each other after the Summer Academy. It establishes a real network and, when they are eventually fully involved in the business, they can lean on it if a problem arises,” adds Anne Goedert.

A programme to find your place

Alongside the Summer Academy, Banque de Luxembourg also offers a ‘Family Business Junior Executive Program’, aimed at young people aged 25 to 35 who have already joined the family business but still have concerns about their legitimacy and their place within it.

With support from professional advisers at the Bank and an external coach, they can identify the skills they still need to acquire to be comfortable with their current and future responsibilities. In addition, occasional workshops are organised throughout the year on various themes such as business continuity in the event of a dramatic event affecting one of the owners of the business.

As with all our programmes, we draw on collective thinking to identify possible solutions and together we construct a response to a particular problem. Anne Goedert, Family Practice Adviser at Banque de Luxembourg

 

The workshops are open to everyone, including the generation currently in place. So why don't we offer workshops that are directly devoted to this group?

"It's actually an idea that we’ve been thinking about for some time. We need to see how we can put it into action," concludes the Banque de Luxembourg Family Practice Adviser. Watch this space...

TWO PROGRAMMES...

The Summer Academy, aimed at young people aged 18 to 25, helps them to assess the position they wish to occupy in the future in relation to the business: as an owner, as an employee or do something outside the family business.

The Family Business Junior Executive Program, aimed at young people aged 25 to 35, helps them find their place within the family business that they have recently joined. It involves thinking about the skills they need to acquire to establish their legitimacy.

… AND OCCASIONAL WORKSHOPS

Open to all ages, occasional workshops are organised around different themes, such as business continuity (inviting participants to think about the steps to take should a dramatic event affect one of the owners of the family business), or valuation (understanding the importance of estimating the value of a business).


To find out more about our support for businesses and our upcoming workshops and conferences, please contact Anne Goedert.

Anne GoEdert
Family Practice Adviser

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