The situation

Some advisors include family in succession plans, while others rely on relatives for administrative help when work piles up.

Mixing blood with money can be disastrous if not managed properly.

While hiring family usually means having staff committed to seeing you succeed, you can’t always be objective about their performance.

To see if adding another dimension to your relationship will work, implement a firm trial period. You’ll want to draw up a written contract specifying roles, responsibilities and pay.

Some questions to ask before you hire a family member:


How will we objectively measure your performance after you’ve completed your trial period?


Will you let me know how things are going?


I want hiring you to be a positive experience for my clients. Why are you fully qualified for the position?


Will you get training or ask questions if you can’t figure something out?


Will you book a meeting time with me when you need to go over something?


Can we figure this out at dinner?

You must talk about how you’ll separate your work and family lives ahead of time. Adding an employee-boss relationship to an already strained family relationship will likely mean sour professional interactions. That impacts team morale, the client experience and, ultimately, your bottom line.

When hiring family, you need to communicate openly and evaluate objectively. Institute monthly performance reviews to set goals and address performance issues in a formal, unemotional way. And, if you have even the slightest inkling you’ll wind up firing the family member, don’t start down the path.

If hiring a family member is meant as part of passing on your legacy, institute a testing period where you can evaluate whether it’s a good fit. Also, create a timeline for achieving required designations so you know your relative is prepared to fully take on your role.

At the same time, consider how your business will change if you hire a family member. For instance, if you’re thinking of selling your book to your daughter who’s struggling at another firm, you’ll have to spend time mentoring and training her. Or, if your son needs help preparing for the licensing exams, are you prepared to tutor him?

If you move forward with the hire, give other team members the heads up. Openly discuss how this will affect them and your reasons for hiring that relative. To make sure your staff doesn’t suspect favouritism, let them know your performance expectations and what will happen if they don’t materialize.