Succession planning: strategies to lead to a right Roy-al result

The power struggles at the heart of the Roy family in the HBO series, Succession, exposed the competing interests in advancing a family legacy.

And the real tragedy is that with some forward planning there was no need for anyone to become a victim of the Machiavellian shenanigans surrounding the future of Waystar RoyCo – but then we would have missed out on a television gem. 

A component of any business life cycle is succession planning, with the aim of ensuring the seamless transition of assets and responsibilities from one generation to the next.

A starting point is the valuation of a business, determining the true worth of assets and ensuring sufficient liquidity to cover financial requirements during a transfer period.

Financial documents should be consolidated, up to date, available and include the rationale of valuing the business. Formalised, standard operating procedures ought to be in place.

Identifying potential successors is a prerequisite to establishing how the skills and knowledge of future leaders should be developed for the long-term success of a business. Mentorship, a leadership programme and structured career progression paths are all necessary to cultivate a pipeline of talent. The process should go beyond executive roles to encompass nurturing a diverse and skilled talent pool across all levels of a company.

Changes at the top can significantly impact on an organisation’s culture and values. Successful succession planning aligns core values, vision and strategic objectives with those taking on senior management positions.

Encouraging a shared sense of purpose and a collaborative working environment can help foster resilience during periods of change and help continue to drive growth, innovation and competitive advantage in an evolving marketplace.

Most businesses thrive on client relationships built on trust, expertise, and reliability. Future proofing a company involves the meticulous management of change to ensure minimal disruption to service delivery and maintaining client satisfaction. This may entail introducing successors well in advance, facilitating knowledge transfer, and providing ongoing support during the hand over. 

Professional services firms operate in a complex and highly regulated environment, where any disruption in leadership can pose risks to business continuity, compliance, and reputation - robust preparation entails identifying and mitigating these specific risks.

Establishing clear governance structures and oversight mechanisms will also need careful consideration. Designating responsibility at board level, implementing transparent selection criteria and decision-making processes, conducting regular reviews and evaluations of succession plans ensures accountability and rigor in the process.

How can Abacus help?

Abacus provides individual and corporate directors to deliver professional and effective day-to-day management of the entities it manages. 

Our directors are experienced and knowledgeable individuals with a wealth of experience in a range of industries. They provide proactive advice, guidance where appropriate and can call on their network of contacts to provide further support to our clients as required. They add value, oversight, governance together with effective decision making to the boards they sit on. The senior members of the Abacus team contribute to strategic planning, policy development and how a business navigates its life cycle.

Abacus has offices in the Isle of Man, Monaco and London, it was originally part of Coopers & Lybrand, later becoming PwC. The principles of independence and integrity continue to guide the company more than 40 years later. Our differential is we are privately owned without any institutional shareholders – this enables us to offer the personal, bespoke and flexible services our clients require.

No action should be taken on the basis of this note, nor should it be construed as amounting to tax, legal or VAT advice. Suitable, specific and professional advice should always be obtained in respect on any particular issue.

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