The nature – and most often, the success – of a privately-owned or family business is the nimble structure and approach to roles that leaders take within the organisation. 

You know the business inside-out and can pick up a multitude of roles and responsibilities simultaneously. But there is a tipping point in most organisation’s lifecycle where you can become too close to the business or too thinly spread. This situation can result in missed opportunities for growth and inappropriate governance procedures you must meet for your regulators and lenders.

This is why many private and family-owned companies look to a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board to oversee how the business is tracking, to spot prospects for growth, to challenge current ways of working, to mitigate risk and provide clarity on governance obligations to grow efficiently and sustainably.

Many family company boards are typically comprised of the family only (which may include the founders and some next-generation family members), and may also include one or more trusted advisors. These boards sometimes lack the governance expertise, which the appointment of professional, non-executive directors (NEDs) could provide.

But companies in this position are not always ready to take that next step. Creating an Advisory Board can be an important ‘bridge’ to such companies achieving the efficient management of risk and strategy that it needs, until such time as it is ready to appoint one or more NEDs.

While these boards do not have the same stringently mandated responsibilities as the directors or boards for larger or listed organisations, they are still required to fulfil certain governance responsibilities incumbent as directors. Issues arise when these same leaders have a number of roles – from directors, and shareholders, to management, family and other key stakeholders. Where boundaries are not recognised or clearly defined, inefficiencies, conflicts and undermined transparency can emerge.

Complementing your current roles, filling in the gaps

Grant Thornton’s advisory board services team works alongside our clients, acting as independent, external support for your board needs and requirements.

From the early stages of board development to attending and facilitating regular board or committee meetings, we work alongside a board in a way that is suitable to your current size, goals and industry, and can scale up or down as required. We help maintain a focus on strategic issues – including risk, stakeholder management, and protecting and improving shareholder value – so you can focus on the operational matters that make your business successful.

When it comes to family-owned companies, we are skilled in and also sensitive to, developing a board and procedures that not only meet your governance obligations but also reflect your family’s unique values set and inter-generational interests. We ensure your board is set up, with defined boundaries, for successful and sustainable succession.

Our services

  • Development of board charters, committees and authority matrixes
  • Guidance on topics, and recent developments, at a board level
  • An outside, industry-experienced, third party perspective, with honest feedback and challenging questions
  • A focus on high-level strategic issues key to governance and growth, and not operational issues
  • Education and insights relevant to your directors’ duties
  • Highlighting legal and ethical responsibilities for directors and projects
Kirsten Taylor-Martin
Partner & National Head of Family Business Consulting
Kirsten Taylor-Martin

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