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September 27, 2019

The top 5 reasons to take on governance software

Family businesses and offices are firmly dynastic in nature, meaning that more often than not, there are established practices in places for effective governance. By the fourth or fifth generation, these processes are deeply entrenched and often resistant to the onset of technology.

UHNWIs have only recently started looking into tech investing, after commercial successes like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have proven that intelligent and thorough due diligence can lead investors to significant returns. In keeping with this newfound interest in contemporary technologies, it may be time for family offices to begin adopting tech into their day-to-day operations as well.

Governance software is built to take care of a family office’s administrative needs, and is far more suited to the task than other commercial softwares. Here are the top five reasons for a family office to opt into such a platform.

1. Document Sharing and Secure Storage

Gone are the days of filing cabinets stacked with confidential information and kept in meticulous order. Not only does transitioning to digital solutions solve problems of storage and manual filing, it’s also a much more secure way to keep confidential information locked up.

Family offices that have transitioned to software for managing their documents have found that documents are much more easily stored, organized, and accessed again as needed than would be possible with paper files, or even manually organized digital files. The designers of governance software understand what their clients are looking for, and have ensured that their solutions are intuitive enough to be easy to use, yet also contain enough functionality to satisfy every governance need.

In addition, governance software providers have a good grasp of the kind of information that may need to be stored, and have invested in hiring top cybersecurity experts to build secure infrastructure for keeping these documents confidential.

Family office software can also track the level of engagement with documents shared on the platform, and similar to most commercial document-sharing platforms, access to documents can be restricted, made open to all, or kept entirely private per the user’s needs.

An important addition made by Edouard Thijssen, CEO and Co-founder of governance software provider Trusted Family, is that version control of documents can make or break decision-making in a family office.

“Having two different versions of the family charter without any way of determining which is binding is counterproductive in the extreme. Digital platforms that incorporate an automated archive of all documents, board minutes and agreements, negate this possibility,” he wrote in a January 2020 piece for Tharawat Magazine.

2. Event Organizing

After generations of operating, family offices can contain dozens of members in addition to a full Board of Directors. Although the family may be spread across cities or countries, every now and then it is useful to hold events or meetings to keep the family’s vision and mission top of mind.

However, doing so across timezones and in constant conflict with everyone’s busy schedules is a nightmare for administrative personnel. This is where governance software can come in helpful. Functioning as both a standard cloud calendar app like Google Calendar, and an events website like Eventbrite, the platform can set up calendar invitations, and track attendance.

3. Information Accessibility

With so many parties involved in pivotal family decisions, and critical regulations around investing to be adhered to, a huge volume of information often needs to be communicated to many people at once.

Users of governance software have found that such platforms enable them to log and store important information about the company, family, and industry, with the ability to archive and access details as needed. In addition, similar to document-sharing, information can be made available or restricted as necessary.

Another feature that family offices have found useful is the ability to share important legal information with board members and shareholders before meetings, such that all the parties are briefed on the basics before coming together to discuss next steps. This can similarly be applied to generally conveying business updates to the family, or pushing out information about training sessions or important upcoming events.

4. Board Minutes

When holding lengthy meetings is a regular part of business operations, meeting minutes are essential in order to refer back to decisions made or the specifics of any new information conveyed. This applies not only to primary users in the family offices, but also those who may be relatively more hands-off in running the business–namely, board members.

Board members in particular have found the ability to store and refer back to meeting minutes incredibly useful. As board members tend to have seats on more than one board at a time, it’s helpful to have information cataloged in one place, which one can easily reread before the next meeting to reconnect with the issues at hand.

In turn, keeping track of which board members are actually reviewing important information prior to meetings can be a good way to identify which members are actively engaged with your family office’s activities and priorities.

“Tracking software also provides a record of who is an effective board member and who is not; board members who don’t review the information provided before a board meeting are probably not the right board members,” Thijssen wrote.

5. Surveys and Feedback

For the modern family office, instituting democratic processes as a part of business leadership is increasingly becoming a priority. The easiest way to do so, without needlessly drawing out or overcomplicating the decision-making process, is to run surveys or otherwise solicit feedback from the other members of your community.

Governance software allows users to track the level of engagement with the software and with specific information or documents, and also visualizes this information in a form convenient to the viewer. Using these data visualizations, it is easy to see which decisions or pieces of information provoked the most response from family members and board members, giving a general idea of what’s important to the community as a whole.

Beyond these five reasons, family office governance platforms are packed with more features that can be discovered bit by bit. Like any business product, layers of functionality are revealed bit by bit. The mark of a good software is the availability of support when first taking on the software, and also the expertise of the team who created it. With helping hands and the support of family members, family offices can easily operate at a much higher level of productivity and efficiency.