Frequently Asked Questions

We are pleased to receive calls or email for information about how we work, listen to your concerns and explain our general approach to an engagement. Some family members reach out to us because they are in varying degrees of pain stemming from a recent or foreseeable family or business issue, but most calls are from successful, values driven family enterprises in remarkably good shape. They have had experience in working with outside advisors and want to ensure the strength and well being of both their families and their businesses through sound planning for the future. Sometimes the caller has already informed the rest of the family that s/he is seeking information from outside resources and is comfortable with gathering the family group for an initial meeting. If not, we spend time trying to help the caller choose appropriate language to express to the family why s/he called. We also help callers assess the family’s willingness to meet with us to begin addressing the family’s and the business’s challenges.

Calls for information come from an ever-widening variety of business enterprise sources: parents/founders of the business, siblings, grown children, the next generation of owners or managers, as well as professional advisors to the business such as the family’s lawyer or accountant.

The first step in our process is a no fee/ no obligation face-to-face meeting with the Narva team for all family members currently working in the business. This initial meeting gives both your family and our team an opportunity to talk with one another about the issues and for your family to get a sense of what it would be like to work with us. This is a two-hour opportunity to assess the chemistry between your family members and our advisors. When there is rapport, the likelihood that an engagement based on your family’s stated goals and objectives could proceed, supported by developing trust and a solid foundation for enhancing family relationships and ensuring the success of your family’s enterprise. After the initial meeting, with your permission we would send a proposal for consideration that outlines the details of an engagement, beginning generally with an Assessment of both the business and the family, the first phase of a Narva & Company engagement.
Each case undertaken by our firm is staffed at a minimum by a business advisor and a clinical advisor. Each of these professionals focuses on the material presented that lies within his or her professional expertise. On our largest cases the team may increase to as large as six consultants, but in all cases there is a business team leader and a family systems team leader.

All of our consultants are deeply experienced in their professions of origin and all are supervised by both Richard Narva, an attorney by training, who founded the firm, and by Shari Narva, a family therapist by training, who has advised family businesses and supervised cases for the firm for over 25 years.

Each engagement is conducted with the highest possible regard for confidentiality and ethical standards. We seek at all times to respect and preserve the privacy and identity of our clients, the names and locations of their family enterprises and of their family members. Our clients must have complete faith in the confidentiality of all proceedings in order for our firm’s advisors to foster the atmosphere of openness and candor necessary to a successful consultation.

Assignments to cases are made based upon several variables, including the presenting issues, the culture and ethnicity of the family shareholders, the composition and size of the controlling family; and the size and complexity of the family controlled enterprise.
A family controlled enterprise is one in which the control group [the family] is involved actively in one or more of its ownership, governance or management [the control] in order to manage a pool of its capital invested in an operating company, a foundation or an investment vehicle or all three of the above [the enterprise].
Continuity Planning is a holistic planning and implementation process encompassing at least seven independent, concurrent planning activities led by several different primary professional advisors. For a detailed explanation of these activities, please see Continuity Planning.
Continuity planning is generally undertaken by strong, values driven family enterprises; families who are not only committed to legacy planning and the preservation of wealth but who have a vision for the future that includes a growing enterprise and a next generation of strong leaders and wealth creators.
Continuity planning is such an important indicator of a company’s long term competitive strength because it sends a message to the company’s stakeholders that the family has committed the emotional [courage and persistence] and financial resources necessary to position the company’s future.
Any family controlled operating company will encounter business issues that its competitors also face. For this obvious reason, family controlled enterprises use lawyers, consultants, accountants and other professionals in the same manner that their non-family controlled competitors do. At the same time, families who control businesses are not immune from family issues that all families face—whether it be sibling rivalry, integrating in-laws, or dealing with the need for autonomy that all young people encounter.

What differs for families who control business enterprises is that often purely family issues are acted out on the platform of the business, revealing in public what other families address and resolve in private. At the same time, business challenges such as compensation, career paths, and parent-child conflict can constrain how managers and directors of a growing company address issues that are primarily business matters.

When should a family shareholder control group consider retaining a family business consultant or advisor? They should do so when one member of the group believes the business is adversely affecting the family or the family is impacting the business in a negative way.

If the family can’t reach consensus on whether to retain such an advisor, it should nonetheless invite a firm that is recommended highly by another family firm or by other professional advisors to the family enterprise to explain how such a firm can assist the family and the enterprise to address the issues that some members of the controlling family believe need addressing. Referrals from other family firms or existing professional advisors who have worked with multidisciplinary firms that specialize in advising family controlled enterprises are the surest path toward finding a firm that can meet the needs of your company and your family.

Learn more about this subject in essays by John L. Talvacchia and David C. Linton in Richard Narva’s book, Family Enterprises: How to Build Growth, Family Control and Family Harmony.