Navigating Complexities in Family Business Succession and Wealth Transition: A Q&A with Paul Coleman
We are so pleased to welcome Paul Coleman to Trella. With many years of experience in the accounting and advisory world Paul blends tax expertise with clarity and insight to support multi-generational families transition businesses and wealth.
- Judi Cunningham
Tell us about your work? What is your area of focus? My technical background is that of Canadian domestic tax and more specifically planning for tax efficient transition of wealth and private company ownership interests between generations. Prior to the time of my retirement, I was a tax partner with a national accounting firm, holding a number of leadership roles, including that of national leader of our firm’s succession and estate planning practice. I leverage that knowledge to assist families in navigating through the numerous challenges and complexities associated with succession, wealth preservation and transition. These challenges and complexities extend well beyond mere financial considerations to such considerations as the social and ethical responsibilities associated with having wealth, preparing future generations for leadership roles in the family enterprise etc.
What are the key qualities that you bring to consulting?
I am passionate about supporting families and family enterprises, assisting them in articulating their goals and the pursuit of those. As well I believe that I bring an acute sense of empathy, contributing where I can to the resolution of conflicts within families and supporting their creation of pathways forward to limit the likelihood that such frictions will not repeat and perpetuate over time.
What are some of the common challenges you see when working with family businesses?
It’s common for the taxation and legal advisors to family businesses to create complex ownership structures and while well intentioned, designed to satisfy such objectives as tax efficiency in the transition of wealth across generations most often these structures are misunderstood by the breadth of the family members and can become an impediment to a healthy functioning family living with wealth, including but not limited to the family business within the family enterprise. I see my role in this context as acting as an educator in creating clarity within the family as to the practical implications of these complex structures so that the multiple generations can create reasonable expectations for themselves and others within the family. My view is that a properly informed client can begin to make decisions as to the appropriateness of the ownership environment and if and when applicable to make changes to better accommodate their needs today and in the future. In other words attempting to make impactful life decisions in an informational vacuum very often leads to dysfunctionality in the relationships amongst family members and so while creating an environment of clarity doesn’t necessarily solve or cure what may be years of friction, it does facilitate a pathway forward for healthy relationships.
What do you enjoy most about this work?
My entire professional career has been spent working with and supporting families, both families with wealth and families with private company interests and I consider myself to have been blessed to have become a trusted advisor. It’s extraordinarily rewarding to be granted that level of confidence to be viewed as that first person that they think of when a challenge presents itself, often related to a matter that has little of no relevance to my educational background. As noted in part above, I employ words such as passionate and dedication to describe the view that I have for advising business families.
What part do you play in the Trella team?
The talent that I believe I bring to the Trella team starts with my technical knowledge developed over a lifetime of serving business families but in my view does not end with the tax expertise that I possess. That’s simply the lens through which I view family dynamics, relationships etc. It’s a matter of partnering with similar/complimentary individuals that possess a passion for guiding and assisting business families.
Learn more about Paul and the rest of the Trella team on our About page.