Whom Should Shareholders Ask?
When we have questions as shareholders, who in the business should we contact to get answers?
Like most questions about family business, the answer is “it depends.” It depends on what your question is about. Generally speaking, if your question deals with governance, the functioning of the board or shareholder issues, talk to the chairman of the board. When questions deal with the strategy or the performance of the company, talk to the chief executive officer. When the focus is on financial matters like questions concerning financial reporting (profit or loss statements, balance sheets, cash flow reports) or about dividends/distributions, ask the chief financial officer. And if you have questions about career or employment opportunities in the family business or about issues related to personnel development, ask the company’s human resources manager.
In smaller businesses, one person may hold more than one of these positions. Before asking a question it is worth knowing whether the individual to whom it is directed feels enabled to answer it. Few things are more uncomfortable to a non-family executive than to feel “caught between” owners. When in doubt about who to ask, start at the top of the corporate ladder. Never parachute into the company shooting questions at employees at various levels. The organization’s chain of command should not be disrupted by shareholders either with questions or demands.
Articles purchased or downloaded from Family Business Consulting Group® are designed to provide general information and are not intended to provide specific legal, accounting, tax or other professional advice. Since your individual situation may present special circumstances or complexities not addressed in this article and laws and regulations may change, you should consult your professional advisors for assistance with respect to any matter discussed in this article. Family Business Consulting Group®, its editors and contributors shall have no responsibility for any actions or inactions made in reliance upon information contained in this article. Articles are based on experience on real family businesses. However, names and other identifying characteristics may be changed to protect privacy.
The copyright on this article is held by Family Business Consulting Group®. All rights reserved.
Articles may be available for reprint with permission. To learn more about using articles for your publication, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.