Children of Chinese tycoons, known as second-generation rich kids, may not want to succeed in the family business because they want to pursue other interests or prefer to build their wealth through their own efforts.
Some tycoons don’t want their children to take over, either. They don’t want to burden their kids with the huge responsibility of running a big corporate at a young age.
Michael Chan Yue-kwong, chairman of fast-food group Cafe de Coral, is one such dad.
“I would describe second-generation rich kids as fish in the tank. The whole world is watching them. Public comments, expectations from parents, and their own aspirations, these can all bring considerable pressure,” Chan told the Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly.
“Imagine how stressful it would be for a 20-something lad to become the head of a large corporation overnight and to make all the major decisions.”
Chan would rather his son strike out on his own instead of living under someone else’s shadow.
In fact, Chan has a much broader definition of succession. Even though his children may not be taking the helm of the group, it’s still succession if they are involved in a related business.
“My daughter designs restaurants and my son runs a bakery. The family business tradition, concepts and values have been passed on indirectly. This is what I call lateral succession.”
Chan also has his unique coaching style to support his kids.
“It’s like flying a kite: I let them fly as they wish but there is still a thread. When there is a need, I would still be able to help,” says Chan.
Chan adopts what he dubbed a “2+2+2 approach”.
“When they started their ventures, in the first two years, I gave them my opinion regarding major decisions, like picking the shop location or tendering. In the second two-year phase, unless they came and asked me, I would not give them any suggestion. Now, in the third two-year phase, I am just an observer.”
Chan says he wants his kids to create their own future and chase their own dreams, instead of trying to be a clone of himself, repeating what he has done before.
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