The Role of a Skilled Quarterback

Published: Feb 21, 2022

You are at the stage you have thought and rethought about the path forward, and know you are a Family Enterprise. To run smoothly on all your cylinders you need to look at all the pieces working as one system.  This can be overwhelming, so what do you need to start?

This may be a great time to consider a quarterback, that trusted advisor who can look over all that is going on and at stake, and consider all the perspectives.  The quarterback helps connect all the dots to help visualize all the moving pieces.

Too often I have seen that professionals push their own services without taking into account the whole picture.  It’s like the story of the six blind men and the elephant.

The basic story goes like this: a group of blind men encounter an elephant when they are out for a walk.  They each touch the elephant to learn what it is.  Each man touches only one single part, and no other, such as the tusk, the tail or the trunk.  Afterwards, they compare notes and realize they are in complete disagreement over what it was they were touching. Only by combining their perspectives, connecting the dots, can the blind men actually describe an elephant.

Imagine the six blind men as different professionals your family enterprise hires (your accountant, your lawyer, your insurance specialist, your investment advisor, your banker and the like). It is very likely that each professional defines the needs of the enterprise differently.  It is even more likely that they are unaware of each other’s definitions. 

Unfortunately, professionals moving forward blindly in their own silos is too often the way it is. As the story of the elephant illustrates, professionals must combine all these perspectives to understand and do what is best for the enterprising family.

This is the role a skilled quarterback takes. This individual knows the family’s underlying values and vision forward. The quarterback’s number one role is the interest of the family and protection of all its assets.  This individual makes sure all professional advisors are moving the family forward in the same direction.  They are the hub of the multi-disciplinary team.

A multi-disciplinary team can work together in the evaluation of the key themes the family needs to work on, involving all 3 circles (the family, the business and ownership circles), ultimately with the aim to allocate the team roles to help the family implement the most suited and practical solutions through a process.  

The key is to work with experienced professionals who have done this before, so they can share their experiences and best practices, and help avoid wasting time or going down the wrong path. 

And it relies on a trusted advisor to be chosen to act as the family quarterback to instil confidence about the journey you are teaming up to travel together.

Decision Tree Article: Engage an FEA and consider setting up a Family Office, if it meets your needs.

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