Who gets the farm shouldn't shock the kids

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 11:32 25/06/2013

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Family farm owners need to make time to discuss succession planning with their children, Rabobank farm succession specialist Tony Hammington says.

It was a subject that required crucial conversations involving emotion, varied opinions and high stakes, Hammington told a Federated Farmers succession planning seminar in Cambridge.

Doing nothing was getting expensive.

He encouraged the farmers in the room to start talking to their children to start engineering the succession process.

A shared vision among family members allowed succession change to be managed. It recognised that success for the business and the family were different.

Obtaining clarity between these two was critical for succession to work, he said.

"Quite often where things fall to bits later on is when you haven't got that."

Expectations about the business from family members had to be communicated and put out in the open as early as possible, especially if there was a divergence of opinion.

"Now is a good time to find that out sooner rather than later because over time they are only going to get further apart."

Recognising the capability of the next generation was critical. This required honest conversations, particularly if a son or daughter's capability was less than required for the business.

"It's hard to look them in the eye and tell them that we don't think you're up to it. They are critical conversations that are not always easy to engineer from inside the family."

These discussions should be done before they are forced through a family death.

A succession plan could be formulated once that clarity and expectations were realised, he said.

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- Waikato Times

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