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December 3, 2013

Fortunes are made in recessions, so the saying goes. But they are cemented at the start of a recovery. 

Fortunes are made in recessions, so the saying goes. But they are cemented at the start of a recovery. That’s now, most people agree, which means that now is the time to start creating the long-term relationships to ensure that you make the most of the good years that are on the horizon.

October 21, 2013

Lapo Elkann, a next-gen of the Agnelli family, has said he is considering opening a foundation for victims of sexual abuse, having revealed to Italian media he was himself abused as a teenager at boarding school.

Lapo Elkann, a next-gen of the Agnelli family, has said he is considering opening a foundation for victims of sexual abuse, having revealed to Italian media he was himself abused as a teenager at boarding school.

Elkann, 36 – brother to John Elkann, chairman of multi-billion euro family-controlled holding company Exor – made the comments in an interview with Italian daily Fatto Quotidiano, though he did not name his abusers.

September 10, 2013

So, farewell then, Nokia. Well, not quite. But the absorption of the Finnish mobile phone giant by Microsoft was a big moment in the story of its decline. It is probably a matter of time before the name is history. 

So, farewell then, Nokia. Well, not quite. But the absorption of the Finnish mobile phone giant by Microsoft was a big moment in the story of its decline. It is probably a matter of time before the name is history.

Apparently there was a lot of hand-wringing and soul-searching in Finland about the deal, but the writing has evidently been on the wall ever since the infamous “burning platform” email by its CEO Stephen Elop, the former Microsoft man who will now go back to his old employer, taking Nokia with him.

September 2, 2013

What is it with family offices these days? They appear to be everywhere. But are they really family offices or just private banks in family offices' clothing? The new vogue for the title "family office" could be undermining the credibility of the model. 

What is it with family offices these days? They appear to be everywhere. How much so? Well for starters Bloomberg Markets recently ran a big story about the top 50 multi family offices in the world, which was picked up by much of the world’s financial press afterwards.

August 15, 2013

The Mittelstand is the envy of the world. Other family businesses could profit from looking closely at the way things are done there. 

It is often said that Germany’s Mittelstand companies, which are largely family-owned, are the reason that the country’s economy isn’t in such a dire state as, say, Britain’s. So what can family firms learn from the Mittelstand?

August 13, 2013

Anxiety about money and fear for their image can drive families to take risks and to diversify like crazy. Outsourcing control is a good idea.

Family businesses are conservative, they look to the long-term at the expense of short-term opportunities, lack dynamism and are risk-averse. Right? Wrong. That might be the conventional wisdom, but in fact family businesses can take just as many risky decisions as the most red-blooded, profit-hungry private firm. They just do so for different reasons.

July 25, 2013

It's official; the west is in decline – as proved by Windows 8. The human race is devolving at a rate of knots into a mess of progress anxiety. 

In his very funny 1979 essay Ferrari Refutes The Decline Of The West the American writer PJ O’Rourke describes taking a road trip across America in a Ferrari 308 GTS. Sample line: we went “so fast we filled the appointment logs of optometrists’ offices in 30 cities just from people getting their eyes checked for seeing streaks because they watched us go by”. You get the picture. The man likes putting his foot down in shiny, red, Italian sportscars.

July 10, 2013

There's some things about business you just can't teach, and family businesses culture is one of them – which is why you should appreciate your next gens.

The British comic Vic Reeves once said that 88.2% of all statistics are made up. Generally, scepticism about stats is healthy, but not always. For example, a survey of HR professionals published in a recent book* found that 97% of recruiters said that having the right “mindset” is more important than having the right skills. Such near-consensus demands that you take notice. And it’s fantastic news for family businesses.

June 18, 2013

Business has lost its way; modern businesses say that as long as they haven’t broken the law, they’ve done nothing wrong. So, is it time for big companies to learn a bit of humility?

In his classic book After Virtue the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre paints a picture of a world where some cataclysmic event has occurred that has somehow destroyed our understanding of science.

The body of knowledge which had been built up over thousands of years has been torn apart and only bits and pieces of it have survived. In this dystopia, our understanding of the world around us is fragmented and confused.

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