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Family businesses in the limelight

1 May 08

A Government reception for the Scottish Family Business Association was a welcome gesture of support for this often neglected sector

This week saw the special needs of family businesses get some all too rare recognition.

At a reception for the Scottish Family Business Association held in the halls of Edinburgh Castle, we saw Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond pay tribute to the contribution that family-owned businesses make to the Scottish economy.

Family-owned firms are often seen simply a subset of small business. In fact, it’s far from the truth to see all family businesses as “mom and pop” operations. Major brands from Guinness to Gucci have grown and developed in this way, and in Scotland half of all private sector employment is with family businesses.

Very often, accountants and other advisers don’t fully understand the dynamics that make family businesses special, especially the fact that the owners and often the management have inter-relationships that are far more complex and emotional than those in a typical company.

Alex Salmond, welcoming the SFBA and their guests (and both of those categories included quite a number of CAs), told them that family businesses would be “uppermost in the Scottish government’s priorities”.

Warm words from political leaders don’t solve the problems that many such businesses face, and it’s still true that many do not make it into the third generation in family hands.

Still, simply raising awareness on the part of professional advisers, bankers and others involved with supporting the sector will go a long way to helping find solutions for the particular challenges that they face.

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family business | SFBA | Scotland | Scottish
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