Family Business Director

Corporate Finance & Planning Insights for Multi-Generational Family Businesses


Special Topics

Planning & Strategy Taxes

Now Could Be a Great Time to Transfer Stock to Heirs

Rising inflation and higher interest rates have significantly affected business values and the broader economy, with some industries managing to navigate the higher-rate environment while others struggle. The Federal Reserve has indicated potential rate cuts later this year, which could have widespread implications for businesses and the economy. Now is the time to explore favorable opportunities for transferring business value to future generations and consult with estate planning advisors.

M&A Planning & Strategy

5 Reasons Sellers Need a Quality of Earnings Report

In a recovering M&A market, sellers must be prepared to present their value proposition effectively. A Quality of Earnings (QofE) report is essential for sellers to maximize their asset’s value and navigate the negotiation process with confidence. The report not only helps in presenting adjusted and future sustainable profitability but also equips sellers with crucial information for clear decision-making, fostering transparency, and ensuring a favorable transaction outcome.

Planning & Strategy Valuation

A Matter of Life (Insurance) and Death

Life Insurance as a Funding Mechanism for Shareholder Buyouts

In the case of Connelly v. United States, a family-owned roofing and siding materials company, Crown C Supply Company, Inc., faces a complex legal and financial challenge following the death of one of its major shareholders. The dispute centers on whether life insurance proceeds should be included in the company’s equity value for buyout purposes, a decision with significant implications for the valuation of shares and the financial future of the company. This case, now headed to the Supreme Court, highlights the critical importance of clear buy-sell agreements and the role of life insurance in shareholder buyouts, offering essential insights for family businesses navigating similar transitions.

M&A Planning & Strategy

5 Reasons Buyers Need a Quality of Earnings Report

In 2024, as the prospect of Fed rate cuts begins to attract buyers back into the market after a period of caution in 2022 and 2023, the importance of thorough due diligence cannot be overstated. Family businesses, in particular, should pay close attention to the crucial role that a Quality of Earnings (“QofE”) report can play in their acquisition decisions. From uncovering sustainable earnings and identifying cost-saving potentials to understanding revenue synergies and assessing capital needs, a comprehensive QofE report emerges as an indispensable tool for family business directors aiming to navigate the complexities of acquisitions with confidence and strategic insight.

Memorable Mungerisms

As a tribute to the late Charlie Munger, we reflect on his unique perspectives on investment strategies, highlighting his candid views on cryptocurrencies, diversification, and reliance on projections. We explore a few quotes that showcase Munger’s legacy in rational investing and his influential philosophies that continue to shape prudent financial decision-making.

Review of Key Economic Indicators for Family Businesses

In the latest economic update, the U.S. GDP showed a resilient 4.9% growth in Q3 2023, surpassing expectations and driven primarily by personal consumption and exports. However, leading indicators suggest a potential slowdown, with economists predicting reduced GDP growth in the upcoming quarters. This week’s post delves into these trends, inflation rates, and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies, offering useful insights for family businesses.

Planning & Strategy

Why ROIC Matters for Family Business Directors

New Video Released on Family Business On Demand Resource Center

Revenue growth and profitability are critical measures for the health of any family business, but by themselves, they tell only half of the story. As a family business director, you need the whole story. We’re not aware if Paul Harvey was a financial analyst, but if he were, we suspect his favorite performance metric would have been return on invested capital (ROIC), because it tells you the Rest of the Story.

Review of Key Economic Indicators for Family Businesses

The U.S. economy defied expectations by growing at an annualized rate of 2.4% in the second quarter of 2023, outperforming consensus estimates and showing resilience against the Federal Reserve’s ongoing rate hikes. While inflation rates have moderately stabilized, economists forecast a potential slowdown in GDP growth for the upcoming quarters. Explore this delicate economic balancing act, including insights from the Fed’s latest meetings and how these developments could influence both consumer and investor behavior.

What We’ve Been Reading

This week we’ve compiled a brief reading list of items we’ve found to be interesting and informative in the past couple of weeks.  Think of it as your Family Business Director summer reading list. 

Economic Indicators for Family Businesses

New Video Released on Family Business On Demand Resource Center

In this video, Tripp Crews discusses a few key economic indicators that family business owners and directors would be well-served to keep an eye on as we continue to navigate through a turbulent macroeconomic environment. Having a working knowledge of these indicators can help inform decision-making processes for owners and directors both in the office and in the board room.

Just Released: 2023 Benchmarking Guide for Family Business Directors

The business landscape of 2022 was like a competitive football game, where the repercussions of inflation, rising interest rates, and global conflicts felt like a stonewall defense. Still, businesses found ways to hold their ground, providing key takeaways for family businesses, as dissected in our comprehensive 2023 Benchmarking Guide. Our guide helps family business directors understand how to make important financial decisions, like setting dividend policies, making investments, and arranging financing, while analyzing the shifts in capital allocation amid the changing financial climate.


Tax Court Sides with Family Business in Cecil

In this week’s post, we analyze the recent Tax Court case, Cecil v. Commissioner. A key issue in the case was the role of appreciated corporate assets in determining the fair market value of a minority interest in an operating company. The Cecil family has owned and operated the Biltmore mansion in Ashville, North Carolina for decades, and the case highlights the intersection of the asset-based, income, and market approaches to valuation, and serves as an important reminder to families evaluating their own estate plans in light of the approaching sunset provisions in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.

Planning & Strategy Shareholder Engagement

A Lifelong Succession Plan

Lessons from the Arnault Family

Bernard Arnault, founder of LVMH and the world’s wealthiest person, is meticulously planning the future of his luxury empire. Through a blend of creativity and pragmatism, Arnault has built LVMH into a global powerhouse while maintaining its status as a family business. Learn how the “Wolf in Cashmere” has prepared his children for leadership roles, and the Arnault family’s approach to long-term planning, stewardship, and collaboration.

Planning & Strategy Shareholder Engagement

Corporate Finance in 5 Minutes

New Video Released on Family Business On Demand Resource Center

Looking to unlock the secrets of corporate finance in just 5 minutes? This concise and engaging video will demystify the world of finance, providing you with an essential understanding of key concepts and strategies. Perfect for aspiring business leaders, entrepreneurs, or anyone looking to expand their knowledge, this video will give you the background you need to understand financial business decisions made by your company’s board and directors.

Shareholder Engagement

The New 3 Circles of Family Business and How to Be a Good Owner

Recap of the Transitions 2023 Conference

Mercer Capital sponsored and attended last week’s Transitions conference, where enterprising families came together to discuss the most critical topics for family business success. This year’s event revolved around the “3 New Circles” – engagement, succession, and governance – and tackled the essential questions family business leaders need to address. In addition, our breakout session, How to Be a Good Owner, presented 5 questions associated with developing good owners for your family business. How would you answer these questions?

Planning & Strategy

(More) Lessons for Family Business Directors

From the Failure of Silicon Valley Bank

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank will be talked about for years. What really happened? What caused SVB to fail? Was it just the long-term Treasury securities that everyone has talked about? Well, no. SVB was on a self-imposed path to destruction that had been waiting for an adverse change in the economy or a rising interest rate environment to kick it into oblivion.

There are, indeed, lessons for family business directors from the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. In this week’s post, we discuss four.

Planning & Strategy

Down, But Not Necessarily Out

In this week’s post, we attempt to divert your attention from interest rates and banking crises by looking at recent private company transaction multiples and some implications of these measures.  As detailed in the latest edition of “Mercer Capital’s Middle Market Transaction Update,” transaction activity, both in terms of deal values and volume, ended 2022 with a thud, as expected.  Multiples on deals across all size tranches in the middle market (which we define as deals with total enterprise value between $10 million and $250 million) fell to close the year—implying a broad decline in private company valuations in that time.  However, asset prices across most classes were susceptible to these declines, creating opportunities for prudent family business managers and directors to evaluate potential transactions in a “down” market. Family business owners should not bury their heads in the sand regarding the current environment–one of the most important facets of a successful transaction is that sellers have reasonable and informed expectations of what their business may command in the market. These reasonable and informed expectations are difficult to develop without a solid understanding of current market conditions for privately held businesses. 

Planning & Strategy

Unpacking the Corporate Transparency Act

On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted the Corporate Transparency Act (the “CTA”) as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020. The main purpose of the Corporate Transparency Act is to protect the United States financial system from being used for money laundering and other illicit activities. Effective January 1, 2024, the CTA requires a range of different entities to file a report with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”). The CTA regulations are written so broadly that nearly every family business in the U.S. will be swept under this new law.

So, what does that mean for business owners? In this week’s post, we answer the main questions stemming from the Final Reporting Rule of the Corporate Transparency Act that will most likely affect you and your family business. 

Planning & Strategy

SVB and Three Family Business Lessons

California (Bank) Dreamin’

Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) imploded last week in a “gradually, then suddenly”’ fashion. Regulators stepped in quickly and aggressively, promising to back up deposits at the bank of the VC world and stave off a contagion of fear at other banks. And while the body was still warm, politicians stepped in and dusted off their 2008 talking point notes.

This post from Family Business Director aims to highlight three relevant family business lessons from the failure of SVB: diversification, succession planning, and keeping a long-term focus.

Planning & Strategy

Review of Key Economic Indicators for Family Businesses

In this week’s Family Business Director post, we look at a few key macroeconomic trends that developed in the fourth quarter of 2022 and early 2023 and their impact on family businesses. In the final quarter of 2022, the effects of the Fed’s rate hiking campaign began to permeate throughout the economy, particularly in inflation readings. Still, GDP outpaced consensus estimates, and U.S. equity markets reacted positively to signs of slowing inflation in October and November.  The Fed continued to raise the benchmark rate with a 75-basis point increase in November and a 50-basis point increase in December.  This post provides a brief look at these trends. 

Planning & Strategy

From Unfriended to Best Friends Again?

Attaining Efficiency Through Restructuring

Facebook, now known as Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META), released fourth-quarter earnings and full-year 2022 results earlier this month.  The stock is currently trading at its highest level in the last six months, albeit still at relatively low implied valuation multiples. This comes after a notably tough year for Facebook, as its stock fell 64% last year due to heightened competition from TikTok and a slump in the digital ad market.

So, what changed?  The two main changes for this significant increase are cost cuts and the announcement of a $40 billion increase in their share repurchase authorization.  While Meta previously taught us about long-term planning and plant/harvest decisions, Facebook’s belt-tightening and share repurchase plan bring up another few lessons on forecasting and share repurchasing, which we revisit in this blog.


Estate Tax Exemption Uncertainty

And Other Takeaways from the Heckerling Estate Planning Conference

We had the opportunity to attend the 57th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, one the largest conferences for estate planning professionals. This year’s week-long conference was the first to be held in person in a few years, and the exhibit hall and education sessions were full of good information and details on the estate, gift, and tax planning fronts. We share just a few topics of conversation and tidbits we picked up from the sessions and conference last week.

Planning & Strategy

Is Your Family Business Ready for the Next Recession?

A Look Ahead to 2023

As we begin to put a bow on 2022 and turn our attention to 2023, we suspect that the dreaded “R word” is on the mind of many of our readers as they contemplate the myriad challenges and obstacles their businesses will face in 2023. As a family business owner or director, now is the time to think critically about how your family business is positioned for a potential economic slowdown.  This post offers a few practical steps family business owners and directors can take to ensure their business continues to thrive even if Santa brings us a recession this year.

Consulting Services

Family Business Advisory Services

Mercer Capital provides financial education services and other strategic financial consulting to family businesses