What does FBN-H membership entail? Which of your services are you the most proud of?
The FBN-H Association was founded by a community of business-owning families. The strongest source of cohesion is our shared set of values and life situation. The common denominator is having a family-owned business and sharing as much experience as possible with regards to intergenerational succession. Our association is not a trade organisation. Though our members and their families are primarily connected by ties of friendship, business relationships may also be formed. In order to reach the above aims, we have monthly club meetings and organise factory visits to learn about one another’s operations. As the Hungarian FBN-H is a member of FBN International, our members can also take part in international conferences and training programmes. At these forums, our representatives also have the opportunity to meet the international elite of family business owners.
What are the ‘hottest economic topics’ for family businesses in 2017?
Labour shortage presents the biggest problem also for these companies. As earlier crises have shown, family businesses tend to be more adaptable and have better stress tolerance than businesses that are not directly managed by their owners. It is a known fact that even a family company with a staff of thousand has a human face, meaning that employees know that they belong and that they have a future. The owners would never let the company down, nor would the company abandon its employees. This stability may serve as advantage for family businesses, even in the competition for labour force.
What key skills and qualities does a mid-sized business need to grow into a large company?
Transforming into a big company is a serious decision, and requires a detailed assessment of the resources available, as well as mid- and long-term planning. Perhaps the most important of these is human resources, in particular the resources available within the family. Only family businesses that think in terms of generations and where the family ties render the company durable and ‘shock-proof’ can become successful. An equally important condition is for the company to have up-to-date knowledge in the areas of both production and governance. Many think that the only condition for intensive growth is having sufficient financial resources. But a company with strong family ties and owners who have a powerful thirst for knowledge will attract capital easily.
Is there active cooperation between companies in dealing with problems? How do they help one another when it comes to intergenerational succession?
There is. For us, the FBN-H community is the best place to discuss our problems. We often ask a member of another family to tell us how they see our situation and what they would do in our place. Of course there is no universal solution, as there are no two identical sets of company/family/family members, but we all agree that a number of consensuses have to be reached by the first and second generations, which, when written down, we call the family constitution. This determines the relationships between the family members and the company and prepares them ahead of time for any possible conflicts.
Typically, about what percentage of your members are affected by the issue of intergenerational succession?
The FBN-H Association currently has 70 members. Our membership is quite representative of the Hungarian economy, from industry to commerce, from agricultural production to the service sector, from education to healthcare. It is safe to say that intergenerational succession, while not necessarily a problem for everyone, is seen by all of us as something that needs to be addressed sooner or later.