TUESDAY, DEC. 11: On Tuesday, December 4th 2012, KPMG and the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) hosted an informative and interactive seminar entitled The Business of Family Business.

Over fifty business owners attended the 3 hour seminar to learn how to better manage their family businesses. 

KPMG Enterprise Managing Director, Mr. Stephen Woodward welcomed attendees with humor showing himself in various ads around the Island to highlight the fact that KPMG Enterprise is a trusted business advisor to a variety of industries from retail – to healthcare.

Mr. Woodward reminded the attendees of the Medium Sized Business Forum that was held on October 1st which confirmed that the results of the MSBU survey conducted in 2010 were still relevant.

From the survey, seven key areas were identified where businesses needed support:  1) managing a business through economic downturn; 2)representation of the business sector in economic policy matters – including Government stimulus and tax incentives; 3) business and strategic planning; 4) identifying growth opportunities and supporting expansion 5) human resource strategies for recruiting and retaining staff , 6) increased need for access to competitive capital/finance and 7) timely, relevant benchmarking information to make more informed decisions.

Ms. Michelle Khaldun, Executive Director of BEDC indicated that “the Business of Family Business seminar is one of a series that KPMG will be facilitating in partnership with BEDC”.  She mentioned that “the goal is that there will be a seminar held to address of the seven areas identified from the results of the BEDC survey to begin addressing the needs of the Medium Sized Businesses”.

Mr. Woodward reviewed data collected from KPMG’s Business Leaders Survey which polled over 3,000 senior executives across 31 countries of which 140 were Bermuda businesses.  Over 700 respondents listed themselves as “family businesses”.

Steve shared some key statistics stating that 62% of those surveyed agree that family businesses are the backbone of their economies, 60% feel that family businesses need to be better supported by national governments through funding and initiatives and nearly 80% of respondents are looking to bring non-family executives and non-executive directors into their businesses in order to remain competitive and reduce internal conflicts.

The main speaker, Mr. Grant Walsh, Founder and Director of KPMG Enterprise’s Centre for Family Business in Ottawa, Canada, focused on the need to manage the family component of the Family Business.  Mr. Walsh offered that although a family business is in fact a business, it is different than your typical non-familial enterprise.

To effectively manage a family business “you have to customize traditional business education for a family business” said Mr. Walsh.  Having spent over 16 years assisting families build better businesses, Mr. Walsh offered that those Family Businesses that have good governance are strategically placed to succeed due to competitive advantages that include a dedicated labour pool, access to capital, a loyal and flexible labour force and better retention rates with non-familial employees.  Mr. Walsh cautioned that although Family Businesses do have the competitive advantage for the stated reasons, if not governed properly some businesses will not reach 2nd generation ownership.  He stated the key to managing family, business and ownership is to manage the succession process.

He shared seven key elements to creating a succession plan which included 1) governance, 2) Family business rules, 3) Grooming the next generation, 4) Assisting owners in letting go, 5) Shareholder Issues, 6) the succession binder and 7) Start early and engage in Family Business.

In addition to the very informative presentation, attendees were able to take advantage of free one hour sessions with Mr. Walsh to speak specifically about their family business concerns.  Due to the overwhelming response to the one on one consultation, Mr. Walsh will be returning to Bermuda in January to conduct a follow up seminar.

The seminar closed with Ms. Khaldun thanking attendees and reiterating the importance of good governance.  She also advised attendees to look forward to the next seminar which should take place in 2013 and will focus on Strategic Planning.


*A medium sized business is defined as meeting at least three of the criteria: 1)Annual revenue of between $1.0 and $5.0 million;2) Maximum net assets of $7.5 million; 3) Annual payroll between $0.5 and $3.0 million; 4) Between 10 and 50 employees; 5) Bermudian owned and operated; and 6) Not dominant in their market sector.

Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is Bermuda’s premier source of free confidential business advice for entrepreneurs.  The mission is to serve Bermuda’s local business community with the highest degree of professionalism by providing, authoritative business advice; counsel and loan guarantee support. 

KPMG is a group of Bermuda limited liability companies which are member firms of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity.

For more information on this seminar, please contact BEDC at info@bsbdc.bm or KPMG at stevewoodward@kpmg.bm.