Jan Rosati wants to get people talking. As a CPA and partner for MGO, an accounting, insurance, tax and advisory firm in Sacramento, Jan Rosati has helped hundreds of privately held family businesses in his more than 35-year career and knows first-hand that most struggle when it comes to issues of governance, estate and tax planning, and succession. Most of MGO’s clients are in real estate, hospitality, healthcare, entertainment and technology and are closely held businesses with a high net worth. When it comes to their financial planning, there’s a lot at stake.
He says, “What is the future for the stakeholders of this business? How do we introduce the next generation? These are the conversations we need to be having. Because the more you hear the more you realize there isn’t one formula. You can’t learn the algorithm and apply it over and over.”
Rosati’s clients all have or have had substantial businesses and he’s witnessed time and again the various stages that they encounter. “As the generations transition, the newer people coming in and the older people changing their role, it’s all part of the life cycle of a business. There are certain things that resonate broadly but in the end the needs are different. I always say, ‘If you’ve seen one family business…you’ve seen one family business’.”
Although his client focus is primarily from a tax and financial perspective, he warns that those issues can’t be isolated. “Those things don’t happen in a vacuum. They impact and are impacted by human resources, communication, strategic planning. It’s the whole package.”
So, perhaps of greatest value to him is the opportunity to interact with other sponsor members in various industries – financial, legal, banking, HR, etc. – and how they are advising their own clients. As a network of service providers, they are then able to better inform and educate themselves and their clients.
From the earliest conversations about establishing a nonprofit resource for family businesses in the Sacramento area, Jan knew the value the organization could have for his clients. After FBC was formed, he was asked to serve on the board of directors and as treasurer and has never looked back. “Since 2010, my role is to make sure that FBC has the funds in order to drive the programs which drives the membership which generates the dues and support in order to continue to offer relevant programming for our members and sponsors.”
As a presenter at last year’s Generations, he was able to work with other sponsors and members to present a case history of establishing governance for a transitioning business and how that integrates with estate and tax planning. Furthermore, he was impressed with the quality of the program and unparalleled opportunity to ‘mix and mingle” with a significant group that holds interest in the same professional topics.
Reflecting on another past event, Rosati recounted his experience with two high-level executives at the same company. After the attendees reconvened after the breakouts, there was lively conversation between the CEO and CFO who had been in different groups. A true eye-opener of how crucial communication and perspective can be to the success of a business, the raucous discussion, he says “really stirred the pot. Sometimes more important that solutions is kick-starting valuable discussion.”