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Editorial: Success + failure = family business

Success and failure, good deeds and bad – 2009 has had it all, which is why this final issue of the year contains every aspect of family business endeavour. We start Issue 44 with a look at the family behind Merck, who won the 14th annual IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business Award in October. Of all the families in this issue, perhaps they have been the most successful, negotiating as they have 12 generations of family ownership.

Another family with a recent prize behind it is the Perkins family, owners of the now global optical retailer Specsavers. Although "only" into their second generation, managing director John Perkins explains how they plan to be the best without aiming to be the biggest.

Failure comes in the form of a mea culpa from Larry Colin, who sets down on paper how conflict with his brother led to the sale of a business that had been in his family for four generations. I'd like to thank Larry for this honesty and hope it will encourage other families to address any problems they may have sooner rather than later.

We can also attribute failure and associated bad deeds to the wealth management industry. As the first signs of recovery appear on the horizon, we analyse the lessons learned, assess whether family wealth is currently under attack and look to future opportunities and strategies.

Good deeds are evident in our look at global philanthropy through the eyes of a new report "Giving through the generations", which interviewed over 200 family members to gauge the role that benevolence plays in the lives of you all today. The results are truly uplifting.

In addition, we also give you prescient comment, news analysis, debate and lifestyle features to inform and entertain over the following pages. And don't forget the second instalment of our next generation section. I wish you all a happy and successful end to the year and look forward to hearing your thoughts as we enter the new decade.

Enjoy the issue.

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