If you want to make money advising family businesses go to India


India, which has one of the biggest and most vibrant family business sectors in the world, is proving a big draw for international advisory firms as they take advantage of the surge in business restructuring in the country.

That’s according to one of the country’s leading authorities on family businesses, Professor Kavil Ramachandran of the Indian School of Business. “Consultants are very active in the family business space in India,” he says. “They find the country is a greenfield and are working with many family businesses in areas like constructing family agreements.”

They need consultants to help them put the necessary processes in place so family agreements actually work

Ramachandran adds that many of the consultants are from the big professional services groups like KPMG, PWC and EY, but also management consultants McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group.  Peter Leach, global leader for family enterprise consulting at Deloitte, has built up many connections with Indian family businesses, says Ramachandran, and is indicative of the quality of consultants working in the country.  Many others are following his lead.

Demand for these services is being driven by changes going on in the sector, says Ramachandran. “Family businesses in India are moving from informal structures around family relationships within the business to more professional structures. And they are seeking consultants to help them go down the professional path.”

“Their governance capabilities are limited and family businesses in India often don’t have the soft skills to avoid conflict in their companies,” he says.

Even when families have set up constitutions and family agreements in some cases they haven’t thought through the process. “They need consultants to help them put the necessary processes in place so family agreements actually work,” says Ramachandran. He adds that demand is particularly strong among the mid-market family businesses in India, which are moving to more professional arrangements after years of relying on trust for their arrangements between family members and the company they own.

Often  international groups have long-established relationships with these businesses through providing other services in the past. “So, when it comes to consulting services, they are able to get easy openings,” says Ramachandran.