Coaches help you work with family and create the best business for you

When you work in a family business, there can be challenges. When I started working in my father’s life insurance business, I experienced several.

At the time, my dad had been in the business for more than 40 years. Before I started working with him, it was just him and an assistant. He did most things himself, though. Understandably, it was hard for him to give up some control. Even how he worked with his assistant was completely different from the way I wanted to work.

In addition, my dad never set goals, marketed or created a business plan. He never did any of the things I was being told in my training that I needed to do. He basically told me to ignore that stuff.

Bringing in outside help

To help me work through the issues, I hired a coach. I wanted to get my dad used to the idea that I was not just his daughter but now also his business partner. I thought a great person to help with this was someone who was once my father’s coach.

In every other meeting with my coach, we included my dad in the discussions. We discussed things such as why it was important that he invite me to meetings, include me on emails and introduce me to his clients. He needed to understand that by not including me, he was making me look bad to the clients. They would call with questions and I couldn’t answer them since I didn’t know what was going on.

The coach helped me set up access to his calendar, so I could add myself to meetings when he forgets, set up a rule in his email where I am automatically copied on everything, and schedule weekly meetings to review all cases. These don’t always happen, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Learning to work differently

Today’s environment means I must work differently. While he had focused on selling life insurance his whole career, I wanted to bring in other products. I also noticed that if I didn’t start bringing in some younger clients, I would eventually be the “queen of the death claim.”

One of the biggest hurdles was getting my dad used to the idea of working virtually. While I have been meeting with clients virtually the past few years, this was the first year he was forced to. He suddenly realized he didn’t need to be in the branch office anymore to meet clients. Thankfully, we have now been able to move the office 10 minutes from our home instead of commuting into New York City daily.

While my dad keeps saying he wants to work less, he is not ready to retire. In fact, I think he worked more this year than in the past nine since I started working with him.

Now I hired a new coach to teach me how to start running a practice of my own while still being active in his. I’m setting my own goals, creating my own marketing plan and learning to be a business owner in a way that works for me. This way, when my dad is ready to retire, I will have the tools in place to absorb his business. 

Meredith Gail Langus, of White Plains, New York, has been an MDRT member since 2013.

Learn more about working in a family business:

  • So inspiring as I am experiencing the same. Looking for the Right Coach and Mentor for my son who will be taking over the business is a task that needs the proper Divine guidance. I am so grateful for being a member of the organization before I retired. I believe in the principle of teaching our family how to fish and they will have the fishes all their LIVES. GOD bless us all.

  • Steve Plewes says:

    Nice article Meredith. As you know I was a FA for nearly 40 years and sold my practice 4 years ago. It’s not easy to let go and maybe even harder when it’s your child that is taking over.
    I have been coaching older financial advisors around this subject of transition. I also coach younger MDRT members around growing their practice in a smart balanced way that allows them to have the life they want yet still build value for when they want to transition out.
    You made a great decision to hire a coach and it will pay off for you.
    If you reach out to me I would be happy to send you a copy of my book. You can do so via my website:
    All the best to you for continued success!

  • Thanks for sharing this, Meredith. It is a more common problem than you might think. As a coach whose focus is on successful financial advisors, I’ve worked with father-daughter, father-son, husband-wife and senior-junior teams many times. All of the issues you bring up: not letting go, not working virtually, etc., are faced by many of these teams. Smart move on your part to get the outside help you needed.

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