How can a family business advisor help your business and your family?


The irony is that it’s often the so-called ‘soft’ issues that cause family businesses to become stuck. Or, indeed, unstuck. A lack of boundaries, unresolved or inherited conflicts, tensions between family expectations and business needs, the ‘sticky baton’ effect of leadership transition or a lack of suitable emerging leaders in the next generation. These soft issues are often the hardest to resolve and that’s exactly where family business advice can be beneficial.

“Mairi is one of a rare new kind of advisor – she has the powerful advantage of being able to combine long experience in a family business background with high- level training in her particular areas of expertise. This differentiates her from the mass of ‘advisors’ out there. Her warm but crystal clear and structured approach helps guide people through the morass of everyday distractions and enables them to move forward, step by step.”

Martin Stepek | CEO, Scottish Family Business Association

The role of the family business advisor

The majority of family businesses have professionals on board who advise on corporate, legal and financial matters, but only a few seek professional support that also addresses the family side of the business. This is as beneficial in a crisis situation as it is in proactive planning. Working with an experienced family business advisor ensures that the needs of all interested parties – family members, trusted professional advisors and non-family business leaders – are fully understood and aligned. Intentions are explored collaboratively to provide the best solution for the business family as well as the family business in terms of continuity or exit planning.

Who might need a family business advisor?

In my experience, the most successful family businesses, large or small, are the ones which use a family business adviser to align and future proof their business for the emerging generation; those who take the time to establish both a clear vision and a clear plan; those who listen effectively and communicate well; and those who then run their family business with courage, confidence and empathy. As a family business advisor, I engage with:

the family business (family members who currently own and manage the business)

the business family (family members with an interest in the business who don’t necessarily play an active role in running or managing it, and in-laws)

the next generation (family and non-family members waiting, but not  necessarily ready, to step into ownership and leadership roles)

the trusted professional advisors (the family office, mediators, wealth planners, lawyers, accountants, mergers & acquisitions specialists, private bankers and HR consultants, all of whom advise on business matters)

The benefits of engaging a family business advisor

As an experienced family business advisor, I am often introduced into the family business system by an existing trusted professional advisor. I don’t replace anyone, but I do bring a complementary set of skills that allow me to act as a resource for change. Working with you, I can help to address and resolve a number of crucial issues that lie within your current family, business and ownership systems. These are some of the benefits I will bring to each area of your business family system:


Exploring family governance and interaction between family and business

Exploring family member intentions

Defining roles and responsibilities for family members and exploring the relevant value they add to the business and the family dynamic

Defining ambitions and challenging assumptions

Creating strategic family alignment and a harmonious business family dynamic

Overcoming family myths and shadows

Addressing crisis situations within the business and family dynamic


Developing strategic business planning

Exploring debt and equity options

Conducting a board evaluation

Building effective boards

Defining mission, vision, culture and values with board members and employees


Defining and aligning ownership intentions

Using governance structures to create boundaries around ownership conversations

Exploring relevant family governance – creating and running a family council/shareholders’ forum

Capturing the owners’ vision, mission and values

Delivering engagement, education and development programmes for next generation shareholders