The Advisor’s Perspective: Guiding Family Enterprises to Prosperity

In this episode, Shauna Frederick, a renowned expert in family enterprise advising, engages in a thought-provoking discussion with host Cory Gagnon. The conversation begins with Shauna emphasizing the value of acknowledging uncertainty and the power of saying “I don’t know.” She underscores how this humility can be a key strength, especially for individuals, including women, entering family enterprises.

The discussion then delves into the challenges faced by the rising generation in family enterprises. Shauna highlights the unrealistic expectation of immediate expertise and the importance of fostering a culture of learning and open communication within these businesses. The keywords here include “humility,” “education,” “communication,” and “rising generation.”

The episode also explores the role of advisors in family enterprises. Shauna advises a collaborative approach, emphasizing the significance of advisors understanding the multifaceted dynamics within these enterprises. The key concepts discussed here include “family community,” “listening,” “relationship-building,” and “comprehensive advice.”

About Shauna Frederick

As a skilled Chartered Professional Accountant and Family Enterprise Advisor, Shauna has experience not only as a female entrepreneur, but as an on-the-go CFO who helps take the frustration and anxiety out of the accounting unknowns. Working with entrepreneurs from across a variety of sectors, Shauna helps them navigate the financial and accounting challenges that come with running a business.

Shauna is passionate about entrepreneurship, diversity and advancing the rights of women and girls. She’s volunteered for various organizations in Treasury, Co-Chair and Chair roles. Shauna’s been able to connect with and learn from many female entrepreneurs, oversee committees across Canada, work with external partners and Government officials and co-lead the creation and delivery of a Girls’ Leadership Program, a

5-week program focused on building leadership skills in girls.

Resources discussed in this episode:

Contact Cory Gagnon | Beacon Family Office at Assante Financial Management Ltd. 

Contact Shauna Frederick | The Finance Cafe


Welcome to Legacy Builders: Strategies for Building Successful Family Enterprises brought to you by Beacon Family Office at Assante Financial Management Limited. I’m your host Cory Gagnon Senior Wealth Advisor and on this show, we explore global ideas, concepts and models that help family enterprises better navigate the complexities of family wealth.

Today, we’re delving into the dynamic intersection of business advisory and family enterprises with our guest, Shauna Frederick.

Shauna is a seasoned CPA and Family Enterprise Advisor. With expertise as both a female entrepreneur and an on-the-go CFO, she eases accounting complexities for business owners. As the founder of Frederick OTG, Shauna’s diverse experience spans sectors, equipping her to adeptly guide entrepreneurs through financial challenges. Advocating for entrepreneurship, diversity, and women’s rights, she actively volunteers in key leadership roles.

Shauna’s extensive engagement with female entrepreneurs, committees, partners, and government officials underscores her commitment to enhance financial literacy through initiatives like The Finance Cafe, a business podcast for women entrepreneurs that breaks through the money taboo and explores what’s behind the numbers.

My goal is to be the most curious person in today’s conversation with Shauna Frederick, where we discuss the value of embracing uncertainty and the strength in admitting “I don’t know,”

Especially for women in family enterprises. We delve into the challenges faced by the rising generation, emphasizing the need for continuous learning and open communication. Additionally,

Shauna emphasizes the importance of advisors adopting a collaborative approach, understanding the complex dynamics within family enterprises for comprehensive advice.

Let’s dive right in and start learning how to take control of your wealth to realize the lasting legacy you’re intentionally working towards.

Together, we’re building legacies.

[Cory:] Welcome, Shauna. And we’re excited to have you today and to have you share your wealth of knowledge and expertise. Shall we dive in?

[Shauna:] Let’s dive in. And first of all, thank you, Cory, for inviting me on the show. I’m excited to follow some of your previous guests, which are true role model for me for sure.

[Cory:] Awesome. Alright, Shauna. Well, a question that I ask each guest on the show. And I hope you’re ready for this one to get us started. Imagine that you’re delivering a commencement speech to the graduating class 2023.

If you have the chance to inspire them with your story, how would you begin your speech? To convey the incredible lessons and expertise that you’ve gained, along your career.

[Shauna:] Cory, it’s such a great question, and I love that you start each episode this way. And I think for me, it would start with understanding the power of saying I don’t know.

Far too many times, I’ve seen people ridiculed for not knowing an answer to a question, And let’s face it.

We work our way through school with a textbook and the expectation that when called upon in class, we should know the answer. Right? But the real world doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t come with a textbook. We can prepare.

We can educate ourselves, and continue to learn, but there will be times when we’re asked a question, and as hard as it is, we sometimes have to say,  what? I’m not sure, but let me look into it and get back to you. Or better yet, dissect the question a bit. Right?

Ask a few more questions to flush out the in more information surrounding the question. Do you think so ensures that you’re answering the right question?

But again, sometimes the answer is going to be, I’m not sure, but let me look into that and get back to you. And, Cory, this is especially hard for women starting their careers climbing that, corporate ladder and breaking through that glass ceiling. Trust me I’ve been there. 

And, of course, it’s going to quickly help you assess if you’re surrounded by the right people because those who accept your honesty are truly the ones that you want to be around.

As one of my favorite authors, so famous quotes in his book, Think Again, this is Adam Grant, if knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.

[Cory:] That’s great. And well quoted, Shauna. I love Adam’s books, and there’s a lot to unpack within those and such a great quote. And so as you mentioned the ridicule and how hard it is to start out. Specifically, you mentioned women, but I think of specifically family enterprises and the shadow that’s cast upon the rising generation. Can you go a little bit more into how you think that applies to the next generation and how families can change that culture a little bit?

[Shauna:] Of course. And with the next generation coming through, I mean, you are trying to prove not only to the family business but to your family that you’re ready for challenge that you have, all of the knowledge that you need when it takes time to build that knowledge.

Right? So It’s even saying it’s being able to say to your mom or your dad or your aunt or your uncle or your siblings. What? I don’t know, but what can we do to get me up to speed in this particular area?

So this notion of educating that rising generation, communicating with that rising generation, to truly provide them with the knowledge that they need and and asking questions.

It’s the continuous asking of questions, that really helps these family enterprises succeed.

[Cory:] Absolutely. And, as the family shifts that culture and really promotes the fact that there is an education gap, where do you think that acknowledgment begins and the journey to have those families change the way that they approach, from their advisors from the way that they operate with employees?

[Shauna:] There’s so much that I don’t know could step in.

You’re absolutely right. And it it starts it’s it’s everybody’s responsibility from the top down from the bottom up. Right? We all need to be continuously learning as we’re climbing this ladder.

I had seen, too many times that next generation coming in and they have these great ideas and they are great ideas but you have enough you have the 1st generation or the 2nd generation that’s there, and they’ve built something that they are preserving They build this legacy, this enterprise that they want to carry on.

So this gradual shifting of the 1st generation, educating the second generation, the 2nd generation, educating the 1st generation because we all can come at things from a different perspective, we’ll talk about it a little bit further in our conversation when it comes to family values, making sure that all of these conversations surround surrounding education tie back to what are the values of the family?

How can we maintain the legacy, mission, vision, the values of the family by educating each other and bringing in expert advisors, sometimes we need an outside perspective to make sure that we can come to the table and have that good conversation surrounding education and the learning on both sides.

[Cory:] Absolutely. And nice transition into the conversation of advisors because the business might have been created by one generation, but now, we don’t do it alone and learning how to work with those advisors from the family perspective and the advisors learning how to work with the family. Can you kind of elaborate a little bit more on  that for us, Shauna?

[Shauna:] Yeah. Of course. And this is where having that great family advisor is so important from that family enterprise perspective. And I just  think it’s important that we also define this concept of family And I’m sure you’ve done it on your on your show in the past, but when I think about a family enterprise, it’s more than just the family business.

We have a family business that’s run by family members, but when we think of that family enterprise, it’s truly encompassing the family’s overall wealth.

That includes the family business, the family assets, real estate, and philanthropic interest. Financial assets, so it’s bringing together this wide variety of assets. And as advisors, we’ll start working with the 1st generation, and we have to remember that we can’t just build a relationship with mom and dad or grandma and grandpa, it’s really encompassing this the entire community that’s surrounding this family enterprise that we don’t become biased as we’re advising this family enterprise because the legacy, the values, the vision, the mission, that’s something that advisors we need to be aware of. And we need are maintained. 

So from an advisor perspective, so important that we’re taking our bias, leaving it out the door, understanding that we’re working for this community not just mom and dad if those are the original owners.

[Cory:] Absolutely. And I appreciate it. I think that defining the family enterprise and really what we’re talking about as well is something that can’t be done too often, as you said, we’ve had these conversations on the show already. And reminding our listeners that the family enterprise is not just a business.

The business actually might be gone and sold at this point.

So understanding that, yes, there’s still more to be done and that we’re not the advisors that were there for the business, they don’t just necessarily always go away once the business isn’t there.

[Shauna:] So true. And it’s also keeping in mind, and I can’t remember the stat, but the number of advisors that end up being let go as the generations transition is higher than one would hope, and it likely comes back to that notion of where your relationships are being built.

Right. If you understand this notion of this family enterprise, they have a common goal of creating and growing the assets and passing them down through the generations, as an adviser need to make sure that you’re thinking about all the generations building those relationships, understanding the perspectives of each one of those individuals.

[Cory:] Absolutely. And, Shauna, from the family’s perspective, how do you think they could go about ensuring that their legacy is preserved with the advisors who are working with them as those generations and roles are changing hands?

[Shauna:] Well, that’s a great question. Right? And it’s it’s coming at it from a perspective of it’s not this is not going to be one individual. Right, there cannot possibly be one individual that’s working with your family enterprise that can possibly know everything it goes back to my first comment about you can’t possibly know everything.

So it’s understanding that you’re selecting, sort of a lead family advisor that key person that can bring in the lawyers and the bankers and the insurance advisor is the financial advisors.

If you’re into real estate, that great real estate adviser so that you have this collective team around you that is bringing you the wealth of information that they have in their sector, right, because you want the best of the best working for you so that they can advise you in the technical areas that they know best. And more importantly, that they’re working together as a collective group for you. Right?

So it’s it’s having those the variety of people around you.

And for some of the family enterprises out there that are just starting, you’re going, woah, that’s a lot of people.

Like, this could be and the first thing that many people think is, wow, that’s going to be a lot of money. But when you’re first starting out, it’s understanding. Okay. So who do I need right now?

And maybe I can have conversations with other family enterprises to learn the best of the best from them.

Right? Join groups within the industries that you’re focused on right now, join different webinars, and sign up with Family Enterprise Canada to get information from them.

So it’s really this collective gathering of information and selecting those advisors as you continue to grow because what you need today might not be what you need in 10 years in 5 years or in 2 years. So it’s understanding that as you continue to grow that base and bring in those additional generations, your advisors are going to change with you.

Right. And I love what you said in the who do I need right now?

So it’s a conversation of who not how and relates nicely back to the power of saying I don’t know it it might not be that we need to go gather the information but enough information to say, who do we need?

[Cory:] Hopefully, the advisors who are already advising the family can identify that and help with that as well. 

[Shauna:] So important to make sure that those advisors are listening to all the members at the table and that there are not alliances because when we start to create those alliances among individuals and advisors, That’s really where communication and trust can break down, which we’ll talk about later.

[Cory:] I love it. Now going back to and we’ve talked about, vision and values, briefly, but can you kind of elaborate from your perspective and and the role that you’ve played within Family Enterprises, how important that is to you as an adviser and to the families?

[Shauna:] Yeah, let’s face it. Right. The reality is that family enterprises are challenging because of the overlap between the family, the business, and ownership. So really you have the 3 intersected systems that are working together. Right?

You don’t just have a business that has some ownership you’re bringing together this family ownership and business, and different family members are going to bring to the table different perspectives.

They’re going to wear different hats at different times, and it’s important to remember this as we’re working through it, which I find to be one of the most challenging yet rewarding exercises of coming up with the family’s vision, mission, and values.

So when we think of vision, right, this is really looking it down to what you want to achieve in the future.

What do you want for your family? What do you wish for the business? How do you want to be remembered? And then when we look to mission, this is how you’re going to achieve that vision.

So vision is the what and the mission is the how.

And if you haven’t gone through this exercise before, there are tons of resources online.

There are tons of experts who can come in and help your family walk through this because defining what your vision and mission is as a family enterprise can be your guiding post moving forward, and that’s where your family values come in.

Right? So family values are so important, and you can start this conversation by coming together as a family. Right? Just sitting around the table and talking about what’s important to you. What are some of your values?

Right? Start documenting what common values are. Have a conversation surrounding the why behind those values.

Why is this important to you? Why is this more important to you? Right?

Really having that clarity surrounding that, and then the conversation can be narrowed down to a reasonable list of common values.

That is going to be your family’s guiding post as you move through this journey of your family enterprise.

And then make sure that your advisors are aware, that this is our our mission, our values, and that as the next generation comes in, you’re continuing to share this knowledge and information with them. Because as you start to make decisions throughout your family enterprise’s journey, you can always go back to, does this decision align with our family’s values? Our mission and our vision.

[Cory:] That’s great. And I want to take it a little bit back to the comment you made Shauna, about, the saying I don’t know and how it could people can be ridiculed for for that in a lot of contexts. And how past experiences may have created that reaction to say that, I can’t say that as a leader in my family enterprise, whether it’s a leader who’s been there for for many decades or somebody who’s who’s part of the rising generation.

And I wanna go back to a little bit of the as you mentioned, the having those conversations of the vision, the vision, mission, and values, and how that plays in as far as family confidence goes.

And the confidence in transitions or the confidence in that vision and the execution.

How do you think that families can work within that challenge are we confident that we’re going to be able to execute, that mission?

[Shauna:] Yeah. And it’s going to be challenging because it’s going to be a lot of work, and let’s face reality as some things change over time.

But what we always want to start with is sort of that guiding framework that you as a family can move forward with and getting there, yeah, you’re sitting around the table and you have a mom that’s been leading the family in the prize for 5 years and she’s maybe not clear on what some of the the the vision is for the company moving forward.

How does she articulate that, what? I’m not sure where this is going now, and it’s starting by asking questions to the next generation to get a conversation going about where they see this going.

Well, remember as, my values are still going to remain the same, but I also have to remember that I may not be here for a number of years, and I need to make sure that the direction of this family enterprise is going, the next generation wants to continue with that.

So it has brought that confidence to the table and also set aside when you walk into that family meeting, setting aside, relationships between siblings, we’re not talking to, the siblings that we were as teenagers or as young kids fighting on the playground.

Right? The parental-child relationship I’m no longer talking to my, six-year-old who won’t eat their peas at the dinner table.

We’re all now adults sitting around the table. And it is.

It’s it’s having the courage and the confidence to say, okay.

This is something that I’m worried about that I need to bring up.

And if we’re finding that those difficult conversations can’t be had just by bringing the family together, bringing in an adviser to start leading those conversations to potentially guide those conversations because when you bring in an outside perspective, they can stop the conversation to say, okay.

Things are getting a little bit heated. Let’s take 5 minutes. Go outside. Take a deep breath because we’re not going to get to a place that we’re all comfortable with. By bringing up, history, historical relationships, or bad blood, we need to be able to articulate, this is what we want to achieve as a family.

And is it going to be perfect? What family is perfect?

But it’s just It’s having the confidence and the courage to say, maybe we can’t do this on our own. Let’s bring in an outside perspective to help us get there.

[Cory:] That’s great. Yes. Having a facilitator in the room can speed things up, maintain those relationships, and ensure that those conversations are headed in the right direction.

And from a financial perspective, Shauna, being that your role, and I know that you’ve got a couple of different hats. But from your perspective, at financial confidence and financial literacy, how do you see families as you’ve worked with them?

Say maybe they have got to this place where as a family, they understand where they’re headed and and what is important to them. And now they’re looking at what resources they have available and how do you approach that?

[Shauna:] This is one of the key areas where I see, families potentially not allocating enough resources or education to. And to no fault of women because it’s usually the women at the table that are not seeing the financial information but the importance of sharing all of the information with all of the family members who are involved here to make sure that they understand.

As advisors, especially financial advisors, it is our role to make sure that everyone at that table understands what that picture looks like because far too many times I have seen in meetings where somebody will say, oh, just sign here. It’s just a sign on the dotted line. Don’t worry. It’s fine. And somebody else around the table.

Yeah. Just sign. But at the end of the day, you are now putting your name on something that is legally binding, could be tax consequential, know, there’s a number of different impacts around it that, it is coming to that back to confidence in courage to say, I don’t know what this is telling me.

I don’t know what I’m signing. You need to explain it one more time. I’m just not I’m not getting the way that you’re saying it, so please try and explain it in a different way. As advisors, it is our role and our responsibility to do that because we cannot ask our clients to sign on the dotted line if they don’t know what they’re signing.

So the role of financial literacy education is so important and it needs to start young. Right? It needs to start at the beginning and it’s tough because we’ve been, we grew up in societies where we didn’t talk about money.

We didn’t talk about financial statements, how much we made, how much something costs. But it is it’s changing that narrative and the narrative has to start with the advisors to make sure that we are explaining it in a way that they understand.

Right? And I think just going back to that mindset and the ability to live in a world of abundance if you don’t have you don’t understand the resources and don’t have the clarity around what is the full picture.

And because it becomes very scary, especially when you’ve grown up with this abundance because I’ve seen, time and time again, unfortunately, businesses can fail.

Right? And there’s no clarity around what the financial picture is saying, there’s this continuous living through abundance that could end very unfortunate for the family where many items can be lost on the flip side, living in a mindset of scarcity, right, if that’s the way you grew up and now you’re building this enterprise and this legacy, but there’s a fear of spending additional money or resources on advisors or facilitators or a potential opportunity because there’s still an unclarity around what the financial picture is telling us.

So coming at it from either side, there’s there’s there’s negatives to both sides So that’s where that financial literacy piece is so important and as an adviser. Again, I’m bringing it back to the adviser. Yes. The individual needs to say, I don’t understand. But as advisors, we can often tell or we can see that that facial look that’s like, okay, I am not explaining this in a way that you’re understanding.

It comes back to me. It’s changing the narrative from an adviser’s perspective. Right?

[Cory:] Yes. I think that there are ownerships, around the table and everyone taking ownership of the role that they play and how they can, advance the education of each of those members. Around the table.

[Shauna:] Yeah. And, Cory, it’s an individual sitting around a family table. Is it going to be easy to say I don’t know what that says?

Especially if it’s 2 or 3 or 4 meetings down the road because there’s that fear. And it could be that even that fear comes from that initial meeting. Right?

It’s and she finally made your way to the table, and now there’s this fear of, well, I didn’t even tell them 4 meetings ago that I don’t understand this. I can’t them now, but that’s where that communication and trust comes into play. Right? It’s is. It’s having the courage to say, I’m I’m still not getting this. I thought that after a few meetings, I would come to me what this is saying, but can somebody take it offline?

Can we have a conversation about this outside of this meeting just to see, okay, so how can you explain it in a different fashion to me?

It’s not going to be easy, but it’s important work to do because it’s easier to do it 4 or 5 meetings down the road than 3 or 4 or 5 years down the road when you’re now having that conversation that gets even more awkward. Right? 

[Cory:] Yes. And, Shauna, let’s go back to the family say mom’s been running the enterprise now for 5 years. And then the family has finally sat down around the table because so many times I hear, oh, we had a family meeting and, well, what was that meeting?

And, well we had dinner together and we talked about something, or we were walking across the farmyards and we had this conversation.

In that sense, where do you see the starting of some of this structure? And we’ve had conversations and previous guests talk about governance and and whatnot. But specifically from working with those advisors and the clarity around that financial confidence.

[Shauna:] I think it’s making sure that the right people are at the table. Right? And setting that from a fashion of because we go back to those, those three systems that I about family, business, and ownership.

First of all, who needs to be at that table having that conversation?

Because if the right people are not at the table, then it becomes, again, it’s a lack of trust because, well, now you’re having meetings without me. And then making sure that there’s an advisor if needed at the table. But when you head into that meeting or any family meeting, it’s understanding which hat you’re putting on to understand that conversation that needs to be carried forward. So is this a business conversation? Is this a family conversation? Is this an ownership conversation?

Because once we have that clarity around okay. So who needs to be at the table? What hat am I bringing to the table? Then we can set that. Okay.

What is the purpose of this meeting? And let’s face it. Family Enterprises will sit around the dinner table and have conversation after conversation, and somebody might not be there. Somebody might be there. But when we were having conversations around decision-making for either the family, the business, or the ownership group, we needed to make sure that there was some form of agenda.

Yes. And it sounds so weird as a family to say, well, now we need an agenda to have a conversation. No. You can have conversations, but when it comes to any sort of decision-making, or financial information sharing, then okay.

So what is the purpose of this meeting? Right?

What are the actions that we’re going to take away from this meeting? 

Who is going to be at the meeting?

And sort of what’s the timeline on when we’re going to, come back with any actionable items that we need to attend to what sort of questions come out of that meeting, and who needs to answer them?

So it does. It sounds so odd for a family to say, well, we’re not gonna sit around the dinner table with an agenda. No. That’s not what I’m saying.

But when you’re having a formal structured family meeting, let’s make sure that the right people are there and that we’re leaving our bias at the door. We’re leaving relationships at the door. Here’s our agenda. Here’s what we’re going to talk about. Here are the decisions that need to be made. 

[Cory:] Absolutely. And, Shauna, you talked about the systems the three systems a few times. I want to just go back to you and make a comment about what hat am I wearing. Identifying the system that we’re in is a great first point can you elaborate a little bit more on the hats that that people wear?

So important because In a family enterprise, those 3 systems, family, business, and ownership, you can have one individual that’s involved in all three of those groups so they could be an owner of the business. 

They could be operating the business and they’re obviously a member of the family, where you could have other individuals who aren’t actively owners or involved in the business so they’re sitting in this family system.

Right? So you want to make sure that when you’re having those conversations, If this relates to the operations of the business, you’re not bringing the family history and the family dynamics to the table, and you’re not coming at it from an ownership side.

You’re coming at it from an this is the business ownership group or the business sort of operations group.

We need to be having these conversations about business specific and these are the people that we need at that table versus if you’re sitting, over at a family meeting that we talked about, and you’re talking about the philanthropic interests or the goals of the family enterprise.

You’re not going to bring in the operations team from the business to have those conversations because this is a family decision.

So that’s why I say it’s so important as you’re having these conversations to understand what’s my role in this particular conversation in making sure that we’re not crossing the waves between Okay.

I don’t need to have I don’t need to bring this conversation here because it’s not relevant to this topic. And also when we’re having those conversations to make sure that all voices are being heard because there are so many times when there’s that one person who’s usually the quietest who’s not saying much, not asking many questions, But those are usually the smartest people in the room because they’re taking notes.

They’re listening, right, that active listening And every once in a while, they’ll throw out a question that you’re like, wow. I wasn’t sure if you were just sort of sitting there in the corner, not really engaged in this conversation, but what they’re doing is gathering all the information so that they can throw that gold negative question to help things move forward. So making sure that all those voices are heard. Right? 

[Cory:] I like that. And, yes, being a parent versus being a shareholder, or a director is very different role within that system or those systems as they they play.

[Shauna:] Absolutely. Because as a shareholder, so in the ownership group, if you’re not involved in the day-to-day operations, you come in all of a sudden and tell whether it’s accounts payable, this is how you should be paying your suppliers or this is how you should be collecting from your customers, there’s this crossing off of interest And there’s already a process designed there by the individuals that created that process, and now you’re upsetting the apple cart to speak, and that’s again where that trust, really starts to come into play and family dynamics start to come into play and it’s just that next generation is coming in is going, well, now you’re questioning how I’m doing things. And yeah, that’s not what anybody needs as the transition of generation comes in. Right? 

[Cory:] Now, Shauna, let’s go back to the advisors you made you made a comment about how it might, the advisors might change over time. And you also said, if we’re having a family dinner, we might not bring the operations team from the business into those conversations.

Although I quite often have heard stories and experiences where those are the trusted advisors. The team that is working in the business with the family are the trusted advisors, and they get brought into, maybe some non-business financial discussions. Can you kind of explain that approach and how the family can be aware of the biases and the things within those conversations?

[Shauna:] Well, Cory, I think that’s the most important piece.

Is when you’re bringing in those individuals that are actively involved in the operations of the business, what hat are they bringing to the table in that conversation?

So are they looking out for the best interest of themselves as actively engaged in the operations, or are they bringing are they seeing the viewpoint from the family to make sure that, okay, your values are aligned.
More importantly, do they have clarity on your family values?  Do they have clarity around the mission and the vision of the family enterprise to make sure that what they’re bringing to the table is aligned with that because the work that we can do as family enterprises to go through in create this structure and that guiding post with your vision, mission, and values.

If you put it aside and the decisions are based on Well, Joe and operations think we should do this or, , real estate agent over here says we should do this, but you’re not tying it back to what that vision, mission, and values look like, then why did we go through that work?

And the generations that are coming in are going to be asking the same questions. Especially if it has been there since the operation started and there’s that clear alignment with 1st generation. Right? So it really starts to become this challenge of who do we bring in from an outside perspective or from an unbiased perspective because there absolutely can be internal team members that have an unbiased perspective that understand the goals, the vision, mission, the values that you can bring into that conversation, but making sure that as they’re providing that guidance, that you’re asking those good questions.

Well, why do you think we should go this way? How do you think that aligns with our values? How does that align with our vision and our mission in order to get where we’re going? 

[Cory:] And any advice that you would have for the family if they realized they had the wrong person in the room?

It’s very easy to say as professionals, those of us who have letters behind our names, but that isn’t necessarily the case that it doesn’t just need to be this person has credentials do you have some insight on how the family can say, what this person has the skill set or doesn’t have the bias, or has left it at the door.

[Shauna:] Well, let’s be clear, Cory because even when we bring in individuals with ladders behind their names, they can sometimes not be the right person in the room.

Right? So let’s be clear on that. Letters are not. Professionals are not. Sometimes that’s not the right fit. They don’t understand the values the vision and the goals. So it’s making sure.

So first of all, it’s continuously tying it back to do they understand the mission, the vision, and the values of our organization, of our enterprise. Is this something that’s clear to them? When they’re having conversations with us, are they making sure that everyone’s voice is heard, right, or are they only focusing on their alignment with one individual?

More importantly, make sure that any advisor or individual that you’re bringing in that the objective for the adviser isn’t to say this is what you should do. Here are the options. As a family enterprise, it is your responsibility and you’re and you want to be able to make the decision on the strategic direction or any decision-making because if the decisions aren’t being made as a family, you’re not necessarily going to get buy-in from all individuals.

Which again causes that lack of trust in that that issue. So it’s going back to even the graduating class commencement speech.

A great leader, a great advisor, understands their role, stays in their lane, so they’re not dipping out into well, now I’m going to provide legal advice when I’m an accountant, so let’s not get into that.

Surrounds themselves with other professionals, brings in those individuals that, this conversation isn’t something that I can support you with. Right? So we need to bring in this individual and that all of them are working together for the common goal of the overall family enterprise. It’s not about them. It’s about the family enterprise. 

[Cory:] That’s great. And that I think ties into, as we come to the end of our our conversation today and and start to wrap up our episode.

There are a few questions that I ask each guest and Shauna, feel free because I think that repeating those 3, comments that you just made is very important. And maybe we’ll we’ll start there. In your experience, what are the top 3 qualities that successful family enterprise advisors, possess?

[Shauna:] Well, Cory, I think a great family enterprise advisor will focus on planning with the family, not for the family.

Okay. So let’s repeat that. A great family enterprise or a great family enterprise adviser will focus on planning with the family, not for the family.

Because if you don’t have overall buy-in from the family, the chances that something is going to succeed get reduced. Right? A great family enterprise is going to ask questions and listen. Right?

One of two of my great mentors, was the key that they taught me. When you go into a meeting, ask questions and shut up. You don’t need to you don’t need to articulate how smart you are. Or how much, you need to learn more about that family and that family enterprise than they know about you, right, our objective isn’t to tell the family what they should do, our objective should be to help them get to where they want to be.

So those are three things I’m gonna throw in a 4th because a great family enterprise advisor can’t solve all the problems, right?

A great family enterprise advisor is going to work to get to the root of the problem of the family enterprise to try and help them solve it and then provide some guidance.

Our role is going to be to help the family make a decision, not make a decision for them. And what is one key strategy you believe is most essential for building a successful family enterprise?

That strategy is going to start.

Actually, Cory, I’m gonna preface it with this because the best strategy for any family enterprise is the strategy that works best for them because that’s where we need to start, but The strategy that I would always start with is to understand your vision, mission, and values as a family enterprise.

Because that’s going to be your starting point. It’s going to be your goal, post, your framework, as you continue moving down that journey, and it can start small.

Right? If you’re in this initial stages, you’re starting down this journey, you need to start creating this framework so that you can build successfully upon it. So that’s where that’s what’s so important I see where some family enterprises are lacking.

It’s that  I’m clear on Where are we going? How are we getting there? And what are our true core values? That’s great. And would you say that that’s the most common challenge?

You see family enterprises encountering when it comes to the transition of wealth or just that generational continuity. Sadly, Cory reality shows that about, I think, 30% of family-owned businesses make it to the 2nd generation. About 13% to the 3rd and only 3% to the 4th and beyond, and the top reason surrounding that is because of a breakdown of communication and trust.

So when we think back to that overlap between the 3 systems, the family, the business, and the ownership group, add in different family dynamics, different personalities, and historical relationship perspectives, it’s tough.

It is tough. So it’s really focusing on how we have conversations as a family. And I’ve said a lot of this, but it’s looking at it from remembering a few key things. What hat am I wearing to the table for this conversation?

Is this a family conversation, a business conversation, or an ownership conversation?

Once what type of conversation you’re having, make sure that the right people are at the table. Right? Let’s make sure that we’re inviting everybody that should be there at the table so we don’t come to this conclusion and then, oh, well, Sally should have been in this conversation, but it’s okay.

She’ll just along with the family. No. Maybe Sally had some other ideas and making sure that all voices are heard. Maybe Sally is there, but she’s not saying much. Making sure that you’re engaging that person to say, okay, how does this make you feel?

How do you think this aligns with our values and our vision? Leave the emotions at the door. 

And this is so challenging. And then the last one, Cory, tough conversations might just require the help of a facilitator, and it’s not uncommon to ask for that support.

[Cory:] Great. And before we conclude our discussion today, I’d like to highlight where our listeners can engage more in your conversation, Shauna. Can you kindly provide us with some insights specifically about your podcast?

[Shauna:] Yeah. You bet. So we have the Finance Cafe podcast which it is geared towards, changing the narrative around financial literacy for women and women in business because we know that for far too long, women have been left out of the conversation because they haven’t been in the business that long.

So it’s really removing the stereotype normalizing the conversation where we, join guests on our we have guests join us on our podcast whether they’re entrepreneurs or women advisers that support women entrepreneurs to really break down the conversation around money finance and running your business.

So we’re on all of the major platforms, Spotify, Apple, or you can check us out on our website at

[Cory:] Awesome. And I wanted to make sure that we covered everything, in our conversation.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience that maybe we didn’t get a chance to touch on? 

[Shauna:] I think I touched on it a bit, Cory, but it’s reaching out to the different organizations across Canada that are supporting Family Enterprises. Family Enterprise Canada is one great resource where you can find a lot of great free resources on there, or you can join their membership, and it is. It’s we can’t possibly know everything.

So as we’re starting down this, whether we’re starting down our family enterprise journey or you’ve been in it for quite some time, seek the resources, seek out other family enterprises in your area, and have conversations because we can only grow and learn from, the more we know what is yeah. Knowledge is power and knowing what we don’t know is wisdom. So educate yourselves and your families.

[Cory:] Awesome. Well, Shauna, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences and expertise with us today. Your insights have been credibly valuable, and I’m grateful for the conversation that we’ve been able to have. 

[Shauna:] Well, Cory, thank you so much for bringing this conversation to the table because I do think it’s important, and I appreciate being part of it.

[Cory:] Today, we had the privilege of diving deep into the world of family wealth with Shauna Frederick. I hope you found this conversation as enlightening and valuable as I did. Throughout our discussion, Shauna shared incredible insights and strategies for building successful family enterprises and leaving a lasting legacy. We explored the power of embracing uncertainty and the strength in admitting ‘I don’t know,’ especially for women in family enterprises. We delved into the challenges faced by the rising generation, emphasizing the need for continuous learning and open communication. Additionally, Shauna highlighted the importance of advisors adopting a collaborative approach, understanding the complex dynamics within family enterprises for comprehensive advice. It’s these valuable insights that can truly make a difference in your own journey of legacy building.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Shauna for generously sharing her time, expertise, and knowledge with us. Her expertise in financial literacy with entrepreneurs brings a unique perspective to our exploration of family enterprises. Their insights have provided us with actionable strategies to take control of our wealth and build a lasting legacy. If you’d like to learn more about Shauna and her services, you can find her at I highly encourage you to connect with her to explore how she could support your family enterprise on its path to success.

Thank you for joining me, Cory Gagnon, your host of the Legacy Builders podcast. It’s my personal passion to explore with you these topics related to family wealth.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, you can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast platform. And don’t forget to share this episode with family, friends, and colleagues who you care about. If you would like to help support this show, you can do so by leaving a rating and review.

If you have questions about anything shared on today’s episode or have topics you’d like us to dive deeper into in future episodes, please let us know by emailing [email protected] That’s Beacon Family Office at Legacy Builders: Strategies for Building Successful Family Enterprises is brought to you by Beacon Family Office at Assante. Are you worried about losing what you have created, and seeking ways to transition your wealth across generations? Beacon Family Office at Assante

supports our clients transition their wealth while maintaining relationships. If you would like to access more content we have created, you can visit us at or for more details on our services and to book an initial call. Thanks again for listening, and until our next episode stay intentional about building your legacy.


This program was prepared by Cory Gagnon who is a Senior Wealth Advisor with Beacon Family Office at Assante Financial Management limited. This is not an official program of Assante Financial Management and the statements and opinions expressed during this podcast are not necessarily those of Assante Financial Management. This show is intended for general information only and may not apply to all listeners or investors; please obtain professional financial advice or contact us at [email protected] or visit to discuss your particular circumstances prior to acting on the information presented.

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