Education for Professional Advisors

Next Cohort meets January 27 - 31, 2020

Advising for Continuity:
Forging New Pathways in Family Enterprise Advising

As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know… It is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

Donald Rumsfeld

Family Enterprise dynamics are not always simple. Misaligned objectives, insufficient or ineffective communication, internal conflicts, inconsistent standards, and a myriad of other pitfalls can hinder the legacy building and succession process. For advisors, no matter how much experience they have, these complex spheres often remain opaque, which makes it difficult to both craft solutions that serve the needs of the entire family system and feel confident when working through challenging family dynamics.


Watch this short video and hear firsthand from Katherine Dunlevie, Managing Director of Synovus Family Asset Management Group, on her experience in Advising for Continuity (AFC).

"The AFC program has been the best training I've encountered specific to my role as a family office executive. It's the missing link in training that I've been looking for and plan to have my entire team complete it."

Katherine Dunlevie
SVP and Managing Director, Synovus Family Asset Management

“The program helped me recognize the uniquely challenging dynamics of family businesses, giving me the tools to better serve my clients. Learning from experts in the field alongside other advisors from different backgrounds made for lively and valuable discussions.”

Mark Brandenburg, Abrams, Davis, Mason & Long, LLC

  • As experts with a successful track record in technical knowledge, professional advisors might underestimate the limits to the ability to accurately assess what is known, and more importantly, realize how much is yet unknown about their clients.

    Research shows that unknown unknowns are a sneaky and very common trap, above all for experts, called intellectual blind spots, to which we are especially prone when it comes to complex systems, as family enterprises are. This means that we think we know how family enterprises work, but all we know is how to work family enterprises. Sometimes we can’t see where our understanding ends until long after advisors and/or their clients skipped over the cliff edge. Those who never had this experience, are either geniuses, or only ever advise about topics they have genuine expertise with, or they have a bad case of the unknown unknowns.

    Here the good news: The Cox Family Enterprise Center's inter-disciplinary program, Advising for Continuity, offers tools to reduce these blind spots, and be able to navigate these complexities that will make you a more effective advisor. In the program, we will rattle the foundations of some of the most pervasive beliefs of the Family Business advising world, facilitating the formation of new perspectives and techniques for diving into the family enterprise ecosystems. Our reframing of the field will offer dynamic, panoramic insights into the intricate nature of family enterprises, and the ways that you – whether you are a banker, lawyer, accountant, insurance advisor, wealth advisor, consultant, family therapist or a trusted family insider – can guide your clients with greater perspective. Using the family as the hub, we will dive deeply into the ways that your high-level expertise can better service the families you work with.

    Expert and globally renowned faculty will guide you through case studies, research, and dialogue for new knowledge that will transform the way that you work with your family enterprise clients. The program will show you how to apply a lens of continuity to the Three Critical Success Factors of any family enterprise, and rethink the roles of family dynamics, strategy and governance in the context of advising.

    At the Cox Family Enterprise Center, we eagerly wade into the challenges and complexities of Family Enterprises to bring you innovative strategies, new techniques, and industry-changing perspectives.

    Join us and evolve your advising strategies.

Program Learning Objectives

The five-day program contains three parts:

  • Rework the dominant perspectives around succession planning and open up new advisory pathways with a continuity lens

    • Understand various issues inherent to conventional approaches to Family Enterprise Advising
    • Appreciate the sheer complexity of a family enterprise and clarify the role and boundaries of advisors inside this complexity
    • Hold big-picture perspectives of family systems and the complexity of family relationships
    • Understand the common suite of advisory recommendations and the wide-reaching, potentially problematic, implications for families and businesses
    • Facilitate better and broader conversations with clients that incorporate the full spectrum of their environment
    • Remain mindful as an advisor of what they should and should not do, with established and clear boundaries
    • Know and assimilate the key traits associated with being a trusted advisor
    • Incorporate continuity as an alternate lens to succession planning and apply this long-term approach to other areas of the advising process
  • Apply new models to the wider complexity of family dynamics, a critical success factor in long-term continuity for family enterprises.

    • Approach family dynamics with an increased sense of confidence while drawing from a deeper well of strategic resources
    • Understand key family relationship dynamics, including parental, marital, sibling and cousin
    • Explore habitual approaches to family systems, and determine if those serve the best interests family businesses
    • Approach the emotional elements of family dynamics as they make business decisions with greater understanding, and have a suite of practices for navigating this landscape
    • Apply continuity to family dynamics and recognize the wide-reaching implications of this shift in perspective
    • Understand ourselves as advisors and learn how to manage ourselves in the complexities of family systems
  • Put the continuity lens into practice in the contexts of strategy and governance, redefining your leadership as a Family Enterprise Advisor.

    • Define legacy and how it informs the entire strategic process
    • Comprehend the fundamentally unique dynamics of governance processes in family enterprises that create accountability up and down the chain
    • Understand what it takes to create an effective continuity plan that promotes family entrepreneurship and leverages the family's strengths for success
    • Understand the impact of creating a family enterprise strategy unique to a family's desired legacy and specific business context
    • Exploring the concept of familiness as a unique source of competitive advantage and potentially a constraint
    • Examine techniques for effectively integrating and implementing all levels of strategy within a family enterprise using effective governance


AFC, is a unique educational program for family business advisors looking to fine tune their relationship skills to better serve business families, is offered through the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State University. Participants develop their skills and learn new models and tools to use when consulting and advising family enterprise clients.


REGISTER NOW for the early bird discount – expires December 1, 2019.

Call Nancy Heller at 470-578-6045 for Multi Attendee Discount information.

  • January 27 – 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.*
    January 28 – 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    January 29 – 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.*
    January 30 – 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    January 31 – 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    * - includes a two-hour break at 4:30

    KSU Center
    3333 Busbee Drive (North Entrance)
    Kennesaw, GA  30144

    For More Information
    470-578-6045 or

  • Gaia Marchisio, Ph.D.
    Executive Director, Cox Family Enterprise Center
    Aronoff Professor of Family Business

    Judi Cunningham, MA, FEA
    Consultant, The TELOS Group
    Founder of the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors (IFEA)

    Wendy Sage-Hayward, M.A., M.Sc., FEA
    Consultant, Family Business Consulting Group

    Marjorie Blum, Ph.D.
    Visiting Scholar, Cox Family Enterprise Center

    Michael N. McGrann
    Managing Principal, The TELOS Group

For more information contact us at, or 470-578-6045.