In 2020, Alex Scott, stepped-down from his role as Chairman and CEO of Applerigg, a private, family-owned business built on the foundations of a financial services group established by his great-grandfather in 1903. A fourth-generation leader of the Scott family’s business, he has been both a successor and managed his own succession. As a result, he has a deep personal understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of managing generational transition, as well as the opportunities.
According to Alex, succession is a vital part of a family business’s success, particularly because there’s a predilection among businesses not to endure multiple generations. That’s not necessarily because of succession issues, he stresses, it might be that the market the company operates in just isn’t conducive to long-lasting businesses. However, you can’t go through the generations if you don’t get that critical element right.
An essential part of getting it right is nailing the timing. How do you know when it’s time to go?
“In my own case,” says Alex, “it was when I knew I had a successor who was ready, and that coincided with where I was in my life cycle. I’m 62 and although I had no desire to stop working, I was conscious that I’m not immortal! I was also aware that the last great test for leaders of a family business is to ensure a good succession.