My partner Peter Viliesis had a concern about identifying one of our practice areas as Key Employee Planning. He understood its scope had changed for business protection planning in today’s world.

Peter and I constantly challenge each other to further clarify our message to business owners. After much debate we agreed to rename the practice area to Key Stakeholder Planning. It is worth taking a few minutes to describe how we arrived at this decision and how it changes our approach to the area. Additionally we need to define it for you as we make this change.

The term Key Employee is too narrow and exclusive for the planning we do for business owners. One option we considered was to eliminate the practice area all together and somehow roll it up into the other three areas of Succession Planning, Retirement Planning and Estate Planning. To eliminate it altogether though might give the impression it is of lesser importance which it is not.

We were discovering and constantly running into a need to plan beyond those naturally considered key employees forcing the need to look at how to redefine the practice area. Another term we debated was “Stakeholder Planning.” In the end we realized “Stakeholder Planning” made the category overreaching.

Our practice already includes a focus on Stakeholders. All planning decisions made by a business owner has the potential to impact some or all of the stakeholders. Decisions made without considering the impact on stakeholders can have unintended consequences. 

Stakeholders Include:

  • Business Owner and Family
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Shareholders
  • Investors
  • Partners
  • Suppliers
  • Distributors
  • Community
  • Causes

Stakeholders do not drive planning nor should they get in the way of planning. Planning is driven and directed by the business owner. Planning with all stakeholders in mind serves to increase the value of a business. It creates more stability.

We will still do most of our work planning for Key Employees however now it is clearer to our business owner clients the need to identify which stakeholders should also be consider key. It will reduce the chance some of the players fall through the cracks.

Ultimately we decided on Key Stakeholder Planning. It took us a while to get there. It only took us a couple of minutes to decide on Key Stakeholder Planning once it was put on the table. We believe this enhances our planning process.

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