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What I'm reading: Maxime Carmignac - Sharing Wisdom, Building Values

What I'm reading: Maxime Carmignac - Sharing Wisdom, Building Values
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Most of the books I have read so far this year have been related to my work, and this includes quite a lot of literature on three issues I am passionate about: family-run businesses, responsible investment and female empowerment.

I am particularly interested in the topic of entrepreneurship and how businesses are successfully passed down through generations, given Carmignac was co-founded by my father, who I now work with very closely. One of my favourite books on this subject is Sharing Wisdom, Building Values by Denise Kenyon-Rouvinez, Guido Corbetta, Gordon Adler and Gianfilippo Cuneo.

It is a collection of personal family letters written from great entrepreneurs, offering advice and insight to the next generation on succession, working through difficult times, and social responsibility.

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Each letter has an overriding theme, such as independence (Miele & Cie); ability first (Qian Hu Corporation Limited); love (Chupa Chups Group); employees (Paulig); longevity (Frescobaldi); and dreams (Radio Flyer).

One of the clearest lessons I learnt from reading these letters is that while each company is very different, success is dependent on common principles.

The most notable running theme was the importance of ensuring proper governance, especially as control in family-run companies tends to be fairly concentrated.

When I asked Terry Smith, chief executive of Fundsmith and notable fund manager, what he thought about investing in family businesses he told me that they made him think of this poem from Longfellow: “There was a little girl... When she was good, she was very, very good. But when she was bad, she was horrid.”

Another common trait each of these founders shared was their ability to see past the short-term and focus on a longer-term vision, as the adage goes: “A family business is not a business you inherit from your parents, it is a business you borrow from your children.”

Lastly, each author had a definite sense of purpose, driven by the desire to do the right thing rather than doing things ‘the right way’.

 For those keen to kick off a new TV series, I have been captivated by Succession, a HBO series. It brilliantly depicts both the positive as well as the negative impacts that running a family business can have on the family dynamic. I found it hilarious.

Maxime Carmingac is managing director of Carmingac's UK branch