Renée de Kuyper spent the last 10 years both in impact investing and helping families make more strategic and cohesive decisions together. As our host of the Annual General Meeting in September, we took this opportunity to get to know her better.  Renée guides families towards a long-term family strategy while respecting the unique culture, habits and structures of each family. Having her own roots in an entrepreneurial Dutch family business with a history of 325 years, she is well-known to the specifics that come with family advice. Therefore, Renée has her own flavour and approach – quite different from what you might see elsewhere. Here’s what she does different.

 

1. An anthropological approach

Mapping together different elements, Renée doesn’t take just the financials of the family as a starting point. Apart from looking at the balance sheets, mortgages, loans, and governance structures, she also uses the lens of anthropology by looking into lifestyles, relationships, rituals and even communication methods amongst the family, summed up as the culture of the family. The key she says is to ask the right questions, and to look with anthropologic lenses. Renée in this process dares to ask the family questions such as:

  • What is your family’s definition of success? (It may be very different to what the outside world deems successful)
  • If you look ahead 10 years what would you like to see?
  • Does your family want to stay united financially, or does it work better for your family dynamics to separate financially from each other?
  • How does your family communicate (or not) with each other?
  • How is the decision-making process being made in your family? 

Reneé looks at what lies underneath by also getting to understand the unwritten rules in a family: “When someone says: ‘this is just how we do it’, then I know it’s an unwritten rule, which are often the most ingrained and important layers when defining a family culture” explains Renée.

 

2. Daring to make a mess

In Renee’s experience, real possibility for change often requires daring to confront the uncomfortable. In Renée’s opinion, advisers are often too focused on mitigating risk, therefore they avoid creating an uncomfortable or confronting situation. Sometimes existing structures or decisions in the family, no longer serve them in the best way. To make changes that could better serve them, we need to ask bold and confronting questions which could lead to a temporarily uncomfortable situation. “If I don’t feel a bit tense before presenting my findings to the family, then I didn’t find what’s hidden beneath the tablecloth, which is where the most fundamental aspects are, enabling change. This is what I am after.”

 

3. Reviving the bonds

There are many ways in which bonds of the family may be affected over time due to the family business. For instance, governance structures may actually create distance in the family, or as the family business grows over time generations become further apart. In addition, when a business is sold, families may lose their common purpose, which was once like glue for keeping the family together. Often, families want to feel connected with each other and Renée looks at how to bring back these bonds. Renée takes on several approaches for this, and one she mentions is impact investing. “Impact investing can play a key role in bringing back a common purpose within the family, and often can act as a bond between multiple generations” explains Renée.

By using these alternative methods described by Renée for family advice, we can help families make important transitions, and work cohesively, making a lasting impact. We are grateful for Renée to have shared her insight and unique approach.

Curious to find out more about her work, visit: https://familiebedrijfadvies.nl