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Increased Longevity and the Impact on Family Business Succession

Life spans are increasing.  Medical technology and improved lifestyle habits are part of the reason.  But life spans have risen for 30 years.

As a result of these increased life spans, there is an increasing possibility that three generations of family members might work in the family business.  As a result, the oldest family member might work into their 80s or beyond.

The impact of that longer working life might mean that the generation behind might be in their 60s with never a chance to lead.  Or by the time they have an opportunity to lead, it might not make sense to pass on leadership to someone in their late 60s.  Similarly, they might choose to retire before they ever lead.  As such, the opportunity to lead might fall to a third generation—if there is one.

For those leaders who desire to work late into life, those desires should be communicated in case children want to make other plans.  Stated differently, some children may want an opportunity to lead and not be lead on by a false promise of opportunity.

On the other hand, it is wise to put in place safeguards to know when it is time to go.  Someone who desires to keep leading may want to put several trusted individuals around them who have the ability to speak freely about when it is time to go.

For those who choose to eventually leave, it is wise to have a hobby, interest or vocation waiting.  It is difficult to lead a venture for a long time and then be left with nothing to do.

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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