The Subtle Art of Succession Planning


Getting families to think about succession can be tricky.

There is camaraderie in regional communities in the shared hardships, triumphs, and tribulations. Australian farmers typically have a strong work ethic, making it difficult for those older farmers to hand their reigns over to the next generation.

Australian’s egalitarianism ensures that those who have successfully chartered the waters of succession planning don’t share their story through fear of tall poppy syndrome. Worse those struggling with the concept fail to ask for help.

Succession planning should be part of every business plan. Sometimes it can be ingrained within operations without being acknowledged.

It is difficult for younger generations to raise the topic of succession because they don’t want to be entitled or undermine their predecessors’ role. So often, the thought process of succession goes undocumented.

Succession facilitators addressed succession in different chronological stages, such as working through first management, secondly control and lastly, ownership.

The perennial question is what can younger family members do to help in the intergenerational wealth transition.

Take the time to understand the family history.

To use a sporting analogy, when frustrated or things going against you, revert to the basics. Focus on the known knowns. Play to your strengths and allow others to play to theirs.

Swim in your lane. Allow others to swim in theirs. Surround yourself with other trusted professionals. Such as accountants, agronomists and bankers.

This may sound cliché, if you don’t know or understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Time is to your advantage. Educating yourself will place you in a better position to help yourself and your family in the future.

We need to focus on benchmarking ourselves against ourselves. Or better, benchmarking ourselves against what we want to achieve.

You are as young as you will ever be, which is the perfect reason to start succession now to give flexibility of time. Succession planning is an ever-evolving process. Allowing for time will place you in the best position to manage future questions.

Make a commitment to share the triumphs and tribulations not just in an operational sense but include succession and transition in conversations. Learning from each other, breaking down the stigma of succession planning in a respective manner, and making the invisible visible, will help place the Australian agriculture industry in a far better position for our futures and the futures to come.


Author:  Angus Stevenson, FFN Director and Private Wealth Adviser at Allegra Wealth