EPI Webinar: Understanding Family Dynamics in Multi-Generational Families


Understanding Family Dynamics in Multi-Generational Families



Understanding Family Dynamics in Multi-Generational Families Presented by Judith Cunningham, MA, FEA Visiting Scholar, Cox Family Enterprise Center Founder

Families by nature are complex entities.  When you add running a business and managing assets to the mix, the complexity expands.  Advisory professionals work in the technical domain, a domain that does not usually incorporate the family dimension and this hinders success for both the family enterprise client and the advisor serving them.  Understanding these complex family dynamics, the intricate layers of multi-generational relationships and the patterns that emerge are critical to our ability as professionals to provide effective advice that champions both the family and the assets.

To truly understand families, we must know ourselves.  Research has shown that our early family experiences often re-emerge in our adult life interactions with others, including those in the business world. Families, after all, are our first “enterprise,” and our parents and siblings are our first “management team.” Early family life affects how professionals respond to pressure and react when working with families. If we are not aware of our own family story at play then we will be unable to clearly assess and separate our family client’s story from our own.

  •  Learning objectives:
    • The role of family dynamics in continuity creation
    • Understanding family systems theory and how it plays out within and across generations
    • Understand family dynamics in a much deeper way that is demonstrated by confidence based on a true understanding of the client’s situation resulting in advice that is focused and comprehensive
    • Understand ourselves as advisors and learn how to manage ourselves in the face of very complex family systems





Judith Cunningham

Judi Cunningham, Visiting Scholar at the Cox Family Enterprise Center, is a global expert in the field of family enterprise education. A powerful ally for enterprising families, Judi knows that family harmony and a successful business can not only coexist, but also outperform public companies, every time. With decades of experience working with families and their assets, Judi is a strategic thinker, a skillful facilitator and masterful consultant. Insatiably curious and an attentive listener, she guides business families through crucial decision making processes around transitioning wealth and multi-generational sustainability. Committed to the power of education to transform family enterprises, Judi has personally founded a number of formative organizations and programs. In 2001 she co-founded the Business Families Center (BFC) at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. In her capacity as the Executive Director of the BFC, she determined the central aims and mandates for the education of students, families and advisors. Following this, she founded the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (IFEA), and designed and developed the Institute’s “Family Enterprise Advisor Program” (FEA). Coupled together, IFEA and FEA have established the global standard for education and ethics for professional advisors of business families. Alongside her passion of high-quality education, Judi has worked directly with enterprising families and their advisors as an advisory expert. She draws on research, her in-depth knowledge of family dynamics and the particular needs of family enterprises to guide her clients to new understandings of themselves and their relationships to family enterprise ecosystems. She has remained committed to servicing family enterprises since she began her career in her own family business, where she played a leadership role in successfully transitioning from a single controlling owner to a next generation sibling partnership. Judi holds a Master’s degree in Family Systems Counselling from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

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