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Personal takeaways from the Family Business Australia Conference 2017 – by Jon Kenfield

Hamilton Island
Hamilton Island

In September, FBI Founder Jon Kenfield attended the Family Business Institute Member Network Meeting, on Hamilton Island. He presented his key takeaways from this event to the FBI Member Networking event later on that month. Below is a summary of Jon’s personal takeaways.

You can download the full presentation here.


1. Survey – Worldwide Levels of Trust

The Edelman Trust Barometer has been running for 17 years, across 28 countries, and 33,000 participants.  This year’s survey paints a disturbing picture of a world that is rapidly losing confidence in leaders, institutions and large corporations.  There’s a divide:  advanced Western economies (relatively high trust); Eastern Europe and most of Asia and Africa (very low levels of trust).

High levels of tension throughout much of the world could develop into something more ominous.

The survey also concluded that the protected status of the traditional subject matter expert (professional adviser) is under threat since many people are now as likely to trust their peers and/or Dr Google, as they are an external expert.

Survey – Succession Planning

The reason most (78%) business proprietors neglect to plan for their succession is because they actually like running their businesses!



2. Alternative Masterclass For Family Businesses – Corporate Rebels


Essential premise: many businesses have failed to move with the times and have cultures and workplace environments that belongs back in the middle of the last century, when command and control, plus fears for job security, were enough to keep most workplaces in order.

When an organisation invests in employee engagement, they improve productivity and profitability, while reducing absenteeism, accidents and levels of defective works.


3. Keynote Address: Family Business as Science – Dr. Tom Schwartz

Suggested 10 key areas of interest to family businesses. Nothing new.


4. Steering Family Businesses to Future Prosperity – Mr. Bernard Salt

Australia has grown lazy and complacent as a result of far too much easy prosperity, and relative security, for the past 20+ years.

Australia is a comparatively conservative country:  50% Of America’s top 10 companies didn’t exist 30 years ago;  50% of Australia’s top 10 are banks over 100 years old. Australia will be left behind if we fail to celebrate and support entrepreneurship and innovation.

Advances in medical science and nutrition have created extraordinary changes in population demographics.  This is creating an explosion in health and lifestyle services.


5. Parallel Sessions – Various Presenters

Four parallel sessions, in two streams:  (a) family businesses telling their stories, and (b) advisers sharing their secrets.  Nothing new to report.


6. Washing Away the Wealth – Mr. Brad Scott

The family business sector accounts for over 50% of Australian GDP and national employment, and its value is substantially larger than the entire Australian Stock Exchange.  Notwithstanding, the sector remains woefully unprepared for responsible transitions – much of this wealth will be lost or dissipated, with an associated loss of businesses and jobs.

Take a broader perspective to the meaning of wealth, include:  traditional assets + family / human assets (spiritual, intellectual and social capital;  family reputation and social standing;  family unity;  values, work ethic and community orientation).


7. FBA Adviser Accreditation – Greg Griffiths, FBA’s CEO.

The adviser accreditation program has been outsourced to the University of South Australia.  All learning will be delivered via online platforms.

3 levels of accreditation:

  • Bronze – technical advisers who work with family businesses.
  • Silver – technical advisors who know enough about the requirements of the sector to be able to integrate technical advice with specialised family business advice.
  • Gold – knowledgeable and experienced advisers who can handle the most complex family business assignments.

Comment: this model should deliver access to family business knowledge.  It’s unclear what skills training can be delivered through an online platform. 

Download the full presentation here. For more information about the Family Business Institute, send Jon an email!


Written by Family Business Institute

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