Chris Donahugh, president and founder of Orange County-based financial firm Donahugh Associates, performs wealth management services and specializes in family operated businesses.
Chris followed in the footsteps of his father, Dick Donahugh, a financial advisor influential in family owned businesses. Helping in his father’s firm from an early age, Chris learned firsthand financial planning principles, client service and how to operate a business. Today Chris and Dick work regularly together to help family business owners like themselves. “Our personal histories with family businesses uniquely qualify us to help our clients,” Chris says.
The Donahughs have lead clients through the tense decision-making of planning for business succession and creating a sustainable lifestyle after all is said and done. The Donahughs pay particular attention to their clients’ income streams before and after the sale or transfer of their businesses.
“We have many third generation business owner clients,” says Chris. “It is most rewarding to see how proper income planning has worked for seniors who successfully passed their businesses on to those next generations.”
Knowing each client and their family dynamic is key to developing a successful succession strategy. “Spending time learning the attitudes, personal life goals and objectives of the business owner and the family members involved is equally as important as a close examination of the financials of a business and estate,” Chris says.
Asked to give an example of how their approach is different than others in their field, Chris and Dick provide the same. “We certainly pay particular attention to facilitating ideas that enhance estate planning principles and insurance needs.” Careful thought needs to go into the question of equalization. In some cases equal distribution of a business asset isn’t the best business model moving forward. Even with the best of intentions, by default, participating and non-participating shareholders develop conflicting agendas. “Our process is to help the business owner identify conflicts that might disrupt the asset that provides the lifestyle for all involved,” Dick says. Chris adds, “In other words, we advise clients not to poison the tree that bears the fruit for all involved”.
Chris is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, a member of the Family Business Institute, National Beer Wholesalers, California Craft Brewers Association and Engineering Contractors Association. Chris is a business owner and often asks, “Are you in business to make your life better or in life to make your business better?” His answer shows in enjoying spending time with his wife, Sue, cycling, skiing and traveling. Married for more than 20 years, they have two beautiful daughters, Brigitte and Linnea.