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The generation gap

Let's suppose that your goal is for one of your children to take over the family business some day. How do your children feel about this? It's a truism that most sons and daughters rarely tell their parents what they're thinking if they don't think they'll like the answer. And in a lot of families, where it is assumed that one sibling or another will one day take the reigns, the succession issue is often met with either abject avoidance or subtle placation. Otherwise, it can lead to furious in-fighting if other siblings feel that their value is being ignored or passed over.

It was with great anticipation that we embarked on this issue's Next Generation Survey, which gave us the opportunity to speak candidly with those sons and daughters who may one day be accountable for the fortunes of the entire family. We talked to next gens from around the world about their attitudes to family business life, their personal aspirations and experiences, and where they see their future leading them. The results, which can be found as part of this issue's special report, are an intriguing and forthright account of what today's next generation thinks about the responsibilities and expectations thrust upon them, and their true feelings about growing up into a family business.

Another tricky subject – how to fairly remunerate family members – is examined in this edition's governance pages. We look at how to add value to the business by getting other relatives involved in a way that brings the best out of them and strengthens their attachments to the business. We also look at how to manage the attitudes of non-family executives in a responsible and fair manner.

This year, any conversation about investment will inevitably lead to the credit crunch and its affect on property prices, so this issue we've consulted the experts and come up with a guide to family real estate. We cover business versus family ownership, divestment, and making your luxury properties pay their way. I hope you will find a few gems to help you better manage your property portfolio in these interesting times.

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