by Randy Fox, CFP®, AEP®
Much has been written about the popular HBO mini-series, “Succession”. Viewers and critics have discussed the dysfunctional billionaire family and their intricate inter-play. The failed take overs, the backstabbing, the jockeying for favor to see who will reign over the family empire makes for good television and interesting fodder for social media bloggers and mainstream critics. That nobody in the family is likable, not even the least bit makes it even better. Hate them all, even better. After all, they’re just spoiled rich kids built to fill the stereotype.
When I watch the show, I see something different. I see the challenges of my profession. Magnified, of course. But those who work with family business owners, no matter how large or small the enterprise, deal with these very same families, personalities and issues every day. And it isn’t made for TV drama, it’s real life stuff that needs solutions that are achievable and conversations that are truthful and understanding that is realistic. While it makes for good television, in real life it sucks. These messes exist and the entanglement of family and business is one of the most challenging and stressful and advisor can face. And doing it right, getting it right is hard. Sometimes, impossible.
A team of professionals; clinicians, addiction counselors, therapists, lawyers and financial advisors might take years to help get a family business on track, to get the family on track and back in legitimate adult communication. How families find themselves so out of attunement is another matter. Power, money, greed are not the causes. Rather, they are symptoms of something else fundamentally wrong.
Yes, I watch Succession. And I love the darkness. Because it’s TV and it’s entertainment. At least half of me thinks that. The other half realizes I’ll be in their living room or on the phone with them next week and is full of healthy anticipation. And dread.
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