Family Business & Family Office - Brunswick Group | Brunswick

Family Business & Family Office

Family- and founder- led firms face ever greater scrutiny in the global 24/7 public information space, posing challenges for personal privacy and reputation.

We work with families and founders responsible for the long-term stewardship of some of the world’s most successful, value-creating enterprises on communicating their role, legacy and leadership in society. We help them build reputational resilience across every aspect of their corporate, philanthropic and personal profile.

We understand that advising founders and intergenerational family owners goes well beyond the purely corporate and commercial into the realms of the intensely personal and private.

It requires senior advisers who understand the sensitivities of family relationships, appreciate the importance of discretion in their affairs, and are committed to building long-term relationships of trust.

Our Family Business team is led by senior Partners across our global offices who have long experience of advising founders and corporate family interests – from closely held businesses and publicly listed companies to philanthropic foundations and family offices.

As a founder-led firm ourselves, with deep cross-sector and practice group expertise, we are ideally placed to support family owners, founders and the next generation on navigating issues that are critical to the future success of their enterprise.

Whether it’s at key moments of opportunity and transition (leadership succession, corporate transactions, diversification, restructuring), or during more defensive periods of reputational challenge (shareholder activism, geopolitical risk, litigation or crisis), we help them positively articulate their story and meet changing stakeholder expectations in relation to governance, the environment and broader social responsibilities.

We help them engage with stakeholders from regulators and employees to business partners and outside shareholders, balancing transparency with the need to protect personal privacy.

Three Guiding Principles

Brunswick has developed a proprietary framework for building and preserving reputational resilience for family owners and founders, based on three overarching principles:

It's not just about the media

It’s important not to focus on narrow concerns about publicity and managing media interest. Building reputational capital requires a more strategic, proactive, long-term approach that focuses on how families and founders present in the public information space and how they engage with – and are understood by – their nearest, most important audiences. An effective reputational strategy enables them to spend less, rather than more, time worrying about the media.

Being proactive doesn't mean being high-profile

A proactive approach does not need to involve increasing the profile of the family or founder or putting their family members in the spotlight. It is about structured planning, tailored to the specifics of the principals and their changing external environment, to protect the privacy of their home and personal life while ensuring that core constituencies understand what they need to about the principals and their enterprise. This can only be achieved with concerted and sustained activity on behalf of the family or founder.

You can't preserve reputation by saying nothing

All successful business families and founders already have a degree of public profile. A reluctance to engage meaningfully in shaping that profile and communicating to key audiences will lead to perceptions of secrecy that breed ignorance, misunderstanding and suspicion. A purely ‘reactive’ approach to communications, only addressing challenging issues as and when they arise, fails to use the opportunity that those issues present for building reputational capital and enhancing licence to operate.

Recent thinking