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Navigating Power Dynamics In Family Offices: 4 Building Blocks Of Successful Family Communication

Woman in an elegant jacket holds a cup with coffee over an open calendar at a kitchen counter

Every family system has a generation in control and a generation—or two—in waiting, and often those lines can be blurred. Everyone knows a family in which a son or daughter has been passed the reins. However, Mom or Dad (or those in charge) just aren’t quite ready to let go. These power dynamics can be frustrating for all involved, especially for the family office executives that are attempting to “serve two masters.”

Generational differences in the “way we do things” add further complications to challenging power dynamics. This creates a boiling pot of issues from miscommunication, resentment and mistrust to a lack of transparency. Having surveyed multigenerational family members and family offices for years, one thing is clear: resentment and mistrust between generations starts with poor communication.

We aren’t telling you anything you don’t already know, but a major problem with passing control to future generations happens when responsibility is transferred down, but veto power remains at the top. A client said recently:


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