Christian Stewart, founder and managing director of Family Legacy Asia (HK) Limited, has spent over a decade advising Asian family businesses. After a survey by International Tax Review named Mr. Stewart as one of the leading tax advisers in Hong Kong and Mainland China while he was working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, he went on to lead the wealth advisory team in Asia at JPMorgan Private Bank. Ultimately, he founded Family Legacy Asia to specialize in dynasty planning for Asian family firms looking to preserve their family wealth for future generations.
In Hong Kong, where an estimated 70% of all listed companies are controlled either by founders or founding family members, Mr. Stewart notes that “the majority of Asian family businesses fail because of internal conflicts.” In many cases, it is because the individuals involved do not understand the full range of challenges specific to family businesses — whether the family runs a business or manages financial assets held through a family holding company — and the dynamics can become more complicated if the family members who own the company are different from the family members who are responsible for the business.
Family charters and family councils can help establish a clear plan for succession, but Mr. Stewart notes that “in practice, families will need an outsider to come in to help them set up these rules because they often change the ways a family naturally works together.” In addition to using these tools effectively, it is also important to manage shareholder relationships within the family.
Financial advisers can learn how to meet the challenges of multi-generational wealth management and the expectations of wealthy families at the Asia Pacific Investment Conference in Hong Kong on 7 March 2012. You can register to attend the event to hear more from Mr. Stewart in person, and follow this blog for more speaker updates as the conference draws closer.