Taking Care of Family Business

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 80 percent – possibly as high as 90 percent – of American businesses are family-owned. This is defined as at least two or more family members working with the family-owned or controlled business.

When Christopher C. Vescio sees that number, he sees plenty of people in need of the services his firm provides.

He is the principal member of Vescio Family Advisors, LLC. a firm he founded in 2010, just as the American economy began a recovery from the collapsed housing bubble in what is now termed the Great Recession.

“Admittedly,” Vescio said, “it may not have been the ideal time to start a new business.” But he already had one of the key ingredients for new business success: clients.

“Opening a business in 2010 was a bold move,” he said. “I cannot tell you I would have been as brave if I was just going to hang out a shingle and had no one lined up to work with me. The benefit I had is that I did have clients waiting who wanted me to do this.”

Today, Vescio’s firm offering family financial services is truly a family firm itself. Christopher’s brother, John Vescio, recently joined the firm as the chief operating officer after retiring from a career in law enforcement. In July 2014, John was fueling his vehicle when another vehicle struck the gas pump, causing an explosion. John jumped in and rescued the 69-year-old driver from the burning car. This illustrates well the kind of person John is. In his new position, working with his brother Christopher, John seeks to rescue people from an entirely different type of disaster – financial difficulties.

Before opening VFA, Christopher had spent more than a decade specializing in tax services with three different firms catering to high net worth individuals and families. He began working as a personal CFO for a couple of prominent New York City families, when word got around – and soon other families approached him about conducting similar services on their behalf. After asking permission from his original families, Christopher opened his firm to accommodate the growing number of area high net worth families interested in his tax planning and other financial expertise.

His hunch that these families with family-owned businesses were in need was correct. And their needs went well beyond a singular focus on taxation issues, although taxation is a significant aspect of the financial services VFA provides. 

For each client’s personal financial needs, VFA handles it all: bill paying, bookkeeping, reporting expense and spending pattern tracking, as well as any other personal needs with a financial twist. A client recently gave up the lease on a New York City apartment, and Christopher represented the client in making arrangements with the building management – even arranging for furniture and household goods to be moved.

“We want to be the go-to people who solve any issues our clients may have, even if it isn’t about their checkbooks or their accounting needs,” Christopher said.

The brothers appreciate clients who entrust their bill paying to them. It gives insights into a client’s financial needs that they would not otherwise have, as well as the opportunity to make targeted recommendations that can benefit the client’s ultimate bottom line.

“Our bill pay services not only focus on accuracy and reliability, but also on opportunities for savings and eliminating waste,” VFA communicates to readers of the firm’s website. “No matter the net worth of our clients, there is always a desire to eliminate wasteful expenditures.”

The same care and observation applies to the support and services provided for businesses owned by his clients. These enterprises also require bill paying services. They need bookkeeping and the ability to not only cut out unnecessary expenses, but also to track spending in an accountable manner.

VFA services also include representation before the IRS when tax disputes arise. Fully aware that most clients do not have enough knowledge to navigate the highly complex tax code, Christopher also knows that few have the fortitude to argue taxation issues with representatives of an agency most American taxpayers either fear – or at the very least, harbor great angst about.

This fear is due to a culture the agency itself has identified as abusive, which it has been working to eradicate. Christopher noted that in the past couple of years, he has seen improvement in the manner in which field agents and other IRS representatives conduct business with taxpayers. “The IRS took a beating over some of their methodologies,” he said. “The over-arching theme of what I see with agents today is they seem overworked and are exhausted.”“That can either work for or against a taxpayer facing a dispute, since agency budget cuts compel agents to make quick decisions,” Christopher said. The bulk of IRS disputes VFA represents are fairly easy issues to solve, being largely a matter of working with the agency’s representatives to answer their questions and clear up any discrepancies.

Not that VFA clients regularly have discrepancies.

Their clients are corporate CEOs, real estate investors and owners of family-based enterprises. They are risk takers –  but they are more than that. They are calculated risk takers and they employ the firm’s advice in determining which risks to take and which ones to forgo.

“People who are entrepreneurial and ambitious – as our clients are – have a certain risk-taking appetite. They know that when there is a crisis, there is an opportunity,” Christopher said. “We work together to minimize the damage and then look for the opportunities that are there in every economy.”

For more information visit: www.vesciocpa.com

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