Entrepreneurs are used to taking important decisions. Yet many have a hard time with their own succession planning. Swiss Life helps you start the process early and complete it successfully.

Succession takes time

In an owner-led company, succession planning is a major and often emotional challenge, especially inasmuch as it concerns the future of one’s own life's work.

Consider the following as encouragement to start early with your succession plans: “You can’t prevent the need for succession planning. You can only choose whether to have some control over it or not.”

It usually takes several years to put together a successful succession. You should tackle this topic as early on as possible. This is because you have no guarantee that you will be able to continue working past retirement age. In addition, you should clarify the financial aspects of your personal future in good time.

Wishes and objectives

First, there is the question of your wishes regarding the future of your company. What is important to you? Is a family member to take over the company? Do you already have suitable employees who can carry on the company as you wish? Or do you know of someone outside the company who would be willing to buy you out?

Learn about the possible forms succession can take. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the three most common options.

Handing over the company to a family member is an attractive option. This will allow you to keep your life’s work in your family.

The basic prerequisite for family succession is having a family member who is qualified and motivated to succeed you. In addition, the entire family should stand behind this decision. It is also important to have a strict separation between the family’s assets and the company’s.


  • No need to look for a buyer.
  • Continuity of the business.
  • Employee loyalty is transferred more quickly to a family successor, provided this person has been integrated in good time.


  • Potential for conflict if the younger generation has different interests.
  • The competence of the successor may be overestimated.
  • Potential for inheritance disputes if there are several heirs.

The family solution should be commenced early on. Only in this way can a seamless transition be ensured.

Another option is a sale to employees. An MBO can be a strategic advantage in those industries where personal relationships play a decisive role.


  • The books do not have to be disclosed.
  • The successor knows the company and its customers.
  • Continuity of business processes.


  • The sale price is often below expectations.
  • The successor runs the risk of becoming over-indebted in order to finance the acquisition.

If another firm is to buy the company, it must have sufficient financial resources. A merger is a challenge that should not be underestimated.


  • A successful merger can open up new opportunities for developing the company.
  • The division of the estate is easier following a sale.


  • It is often difficult for the two parties to find a mutually agreeable valuation for the company.
  • There is a risk that some employees will lose their jobs.

It is important to establish a basis of trust with the successor. This will enable you to better assess the new owner and potential risks.

A current situation analysis provides clarity

After you have thought about the future of your company, conduct an analysis of the current situation: How do things stand with your company? Where is it in the market? How much value does it have? What is the untapped potential? And other questions.

Compare the results of this analysis with your wishes. This will allow you to see gaps between what you want and reality. You will also be able to more realistically determine the lower and upper limits of your company’s value.

In doing this, you should seek the help of experts. They are neutral and can make the valuations more objectively.

Implement the next steps

The analysis has been completed. The decision regarding one of the three succession solutions has been taken. Now begin the search for and establishment of your desired successor.

The more time you spend integrating a successor, the higher the acceptance rate among your employees.

Speak with us about your wishes and let us advise you regarding succession and your personal financial planning.

Letting go of your life’s work is a very emotional process. It is the end of one chapter in your life. But we can help you make sure that it’s not the end of the book, but rather a new beginning.

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