Family governance

Statistically, family companies perform better than companies whose stock ownership is open. In Switzerland, 80% of companies are family-owned. Members of such companies are highly committed and have long-term vision. However, it is rare for companies to survive beyond the third generation. As the old Lancashire saying goes, “from clogs to clogs in three generations”.

All companies and all families are unique, each with their own history. They do however have one thing in common: they are well organised.

At Onyx & Cie SA, we have all the expertise and experience to help you not only develop and maintain family control of your company, but also to keep relationships between family members harmonious.

Our family office’s family governance services cover:

These meetings bring together all family decision-makers so that they can be provided with the information they need by experts and make important company decisions. Onyx & Cie SA takes minutes and moderates meetings, but also provides impartial, independent advice on future company strategy.

When the number of family members reaches double figures, a family council becomes necessary. The family council is elected at the family meeting. It works in a similar way to a board of directors, representing the family in relations with the company and acting as an intermediary.

The aim of a family charter is to define relations between the company and the family. It sets out the aims, vision and values of the business, and broadly defines the way it operates.

Such a document is essential if the business is to remain stable and continue trading down through several generations. The charter is designed to develop as the years pass to reflect current and future changes.

It is similar to a shareholders’ agreement, and should be written while the company business is in its infancy. Rapid, efficient conflict resolution procedures should be included so that such issues are avoided.

The family charter will also cover how young family members are to be trained and family employees managed, how the business will be passed on to the next generation and what dividends will be paid, as well as how the family is organised (council, meetings, etc.).


Philanthropy is a fast-growing sector with enormous potential. Often, successful business people want to find a sense of purpose for their wealth and give some of their assets back to society, to “build a better world”.

Philanthropy not only brings family members closer together, it is also a source of new projects for future generations.

At Onyx & Cie SA, we help our clients define their aspirations and choose the most appropriate way of achieving them.

This may involve forming charitable trusts or foundations or organising events to collect funds.

Once the structure has been defined, Onyx & Cie SA assists clients as they work to make their projects reality and monitors changes in relevant legislation.

For clients with large-scale international projects, the family office calls on its close network of external experts to provide insightful guidance.

“It is important to safeguard your family’s assets for the long term. Onyx & Cie SA will help you put in place mechanisms that will keep your business running for future generations. We are also well qualified to assist you as you develop and implement your philanthropy strategy, to give you the satisfaction of contributing to the happiness of others.”