THANOS magazine

January 20, 2023

Ownership, governance
and management
in the funeral services industry

By Juan J. Rodríguez, Director General Adjunto, Grupo Gayosso, Mexico

I’m going to start by pointing out that I am currently, and have for some time, been carrying out three important funeral sector roles: owner (i.e., principal partner or shareholder); president (i.e., board secretary, chief advisor, executive director, administrator); and CEO (i.e. general manager). These have been executed over several decades, in various projects throughout different countries. This of course is no guarantee that I perform and have performed well in any one of these capacities, but, with some humility, I at least like to think that I do. Be that as it may, my abundant experience does nevertheless confer some authority to expound on my professional vision and ways of exercising my varied responsibilities in the industry.

I must also add that I have never run or departed from any company leaving it in the end in the red. Some I even assumed control of when they were hemorrhaging money, only to steer them through their recovery and eventual profitability.

So, I think it is important to share my experience, if only for the sole purpose of learning from the feedback this article will get. But more to the point, as I try to read as much as I can get a hold of about our industry, I have noticed that literature on such topics as property, corporate governance and management are few and far between, and what little there is, is slim and basic, offering no overall vision and understanding from the perspective from someone with real-world funeral industry finance and accounting experience, including generating income statements and balance statements, and leading M&As of large funeral sector holdings or funeral start-up IPOs.

As with any state grounded in the rule of law, a new business’ governance should incorporate to a certain degree a separation of powers. Obviously, in this as in all such matters in general, the degree to which we hew to such a principle depends on scale. Such institutional norms may not be as practicable in a small family-run concern as in a larger mid-sized or large-cap multi-national.

There are three distinct areas of power and authority, each with its own unique functions, some of which may not be delegated by law or transferred as a matter of good management:

  1. Ownership: A general board of partners or shareholders represents the ownership and wields supreme power within the corporation. It is normal in our sector that within the board there be representatives from one or a few 2nd or 3rd generation families, and to this end, a special kind of organization is recommended: a system comprised of a family business, with specially developed protocols designed to avoid deadlocks, mismanagement and scattershot strategizing.
  2. Corporate Administration: This can comprise an individual administrator, an advisory council or related/associated administrators who decide on strategy, manage and control corporate activities and supervise the CEO. Essentially these function as a brake in the face of many potential risks.
  3. Executive Management: This body implements the strategy agreed upon by the administration, handles ordinary business dealings and should act as project accelerator.

Would you like to learn more?

You can read the whole article in the winter issue of THANOS magazine - online at pages 28-29

Read online THANOS magazine

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