What Went Down at CB Insider’s Fireside Chat With Richter’s Tasso Lagios
On March 15, CB Insider welcomed Tasso Lagios, managing partner at Richter, for a virtual fireside chat. In conversation with Jason Maghanoy, head of business development at SJC Media and associate publisher of Canadian Business, Lagios shared some insight into the firm’s innovative Business | Family Office model, which provides strategic advice on business matters and on families’ financial and personal objectives across generations.
The discussion kicked off with some background information on both Lagios’ and Richter’s emergence from the challenges of the pandemic. “It [the pandemic] allowed many people to reevaluate what they want from life and their careers,” said Lagios. “From a business perspective, it allowed the same inflection.”
Since its inception nearly 100 years ago, Richter has evolved from merely an accounting firm to a Business | Family Office—introducing a new category for business owners that combines both business advisory and family office services. When asked about the motivation behind this evolved model, Lagios explained that many of the firm’s clients have come to require guidance in two core areas: business, succession and transition, as well as building a legacy outside of the U.S. market. “These needs allowed us to create what we call business advisory family office services,” shared Lagios. “The greatest value we create is at the intersection of business and family, where we find a lot of complexity exists and most of the value and legacy is built. We also realize that there’s no firm in North America that combines the needs of business and family in the manner that we do.”
To wit, Maghanoy drew a connection between the familial matters of business to the captivating HBO series Succession. “So, how much is your work like Succession? Have you been in the middle of similar conflicts, where Richter had been able to add value to situations that had become quite fraught?” It turns out that, in this case, life may truly imitate art. “Conflict, unfortunately, does happen,” admitted Lagios. “The times that we’re most successful in dealing with it are when we’re brought in early enough and things haven’t gone too far. It goes to the question of trust and building trust in order to really help people through these difficult times.”
Moving along, the chat delved into the infrastructure of Richter’s Business | Family Office—specifically, the foundation of purpose. At its core, the model moves away from providing functional advice, such as audit and tax consulting, to a much more thoughtful and purposeful approach. “We want to provide holistic and integrated advice,” shared Lagios. “Everything we do for the client needs to have a foundational purpose and a strategic purpose in line with where the business and the family want to go.” Additionally, he explained how the new practice provides advice that is inherently practical, ensured by meeting with business owners and their families on a regular basis to guarantee their strategic objectives are being met.
Lagios also touched on the profiles of clients Richter most often works with, including entrepreneurs seeking long-term strategies for their business and family business owners planning a line of succession for their company. He emphasized that the firm’s analyses are rarely a one-size-fits-all solution and that each of their clients, in order to truly align business and family needs, must be addressed from a bespoke perspective.
Before the virtual event wrapped up, the conversation addressed trends in the family business planning industry, practices Richter uses to remain on the pulse of these trends, and Lagios’ advice for business owners who are beginning their relationship with a Business | Family Office.