"In the United Kingdom, "small" and "medium sized" companies can deliver abbreviated accounts and reports to the Registrar of Companies and can dispense with holding an annual general meeting. They can also elect to dispense with the need to lay accounts and reports before any such meeting provided the accounts are circulated to the shareholders who can then require a meeting to be held for this purpose.

However, are savings in time and cost in preparing accounts the best measure for a family business which has to balance the often competing requirements of the business and its owners? Successful family businesses usually have strong and transparent governance structures and go to great lengths to ensure that the owners are fully aware of the true value of their investments.

It is a good idea for family businesses to achieve the level of accountability required of public companies. Codes of Practice for the board modelled on the examples provided by the Cadbury and Greenbury Committees and the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators help to set the expectations of the owners and the directors at a level that will secure business success and shareholder return over time."

Excerpted and adapted from "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Companies" by Francois de Visscher, The Family Business Client, Issue 1.

WJM have developed a model Code of Best Practice for the family business board and are currently working with number of family business clients who are adopting the public company approach to ensure better relationships and communication between management, owners and family.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.