Tom Deans

Succession Planning and Wealth Management Expert

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Combining humor with his experience as president of a family-owned multinational corporation, Tom Deans' best-selling book, Every Family's Business, provides the framework for his keynote speeches and seminars.

Every Family's Business captures Tom's personal story of how three generations of his family founded and sold their private and publicly traded companies for more than $100 million. This start and sell approach, and the annual review of 12 basic questions about the operation of the business, profoundly shaped his unique and contrarian view of business succession planning.

Sold in 14 countries, Every Family's Business is the best-selling family business book of all time and has changed the lives of thousands of business owners and their families.

Tom has delivered his revolutionary approach to family business succession planning to all manner of families, from billionaires in South Dakota to impoverished coffee growers in El Salvador.

Deans' message is especially relevant to franchisors and their franchisees as well as associations who aim to help their member firms with succession planning. His message on the importance of estate planning makes him a particularly engaging speaker for spousal events at conventions.

Tom has worked in banking and government relations, was the president of a railway, and chaired a federal government committee on tax credits. He earned a BA from Mount Allison University, an MA from McMaster University and a PhD from the University of Warwick (UK).

Tom has been featured in numerous magazines and journals including Profit, Money Sense and Investment Executive. A frequent guest on CBC, Money Line and BNN, Tom is a highly sought-after international public speaker.

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Speakers Like Tom Deans

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Speaking Topics

Virtual Keynote - How Extraordinary Companies Are Helping Employees Start the most Important Conversation of a Lifetime.

One major lesson to be learned from a global pandemic, is that estate planning is not just for old wealthy people.  In fact, the indiscriminate attack of COVID-19 on all segments of the population shows the importance of Power of Attorneys and Health Care Directives for everyone over the age of 18. Prepare to unlearn everything you thought you know about estate planning as Dr. Tom Deans, The NewYork Times Top-ten Author of Every Family’s Business and Willing Wisdom: 7 Questions Successful Families Ask, shares practical easy to understand tips and tools to help families talk and take care of one another.

With 12.5 million Canadians without wills, Power of Attorneys and Health Care Directives, there is no more inspiring, thoughtful and timely gift an employer can offer employees than the message offered by this award winning speaker and thought-leader. All participants over aged 50 are invited to complete a proprietary, confidential estate planning checklist to reveal the opportunities to improve their own estate plans.  Employees under age 50 are invited to share this educational resource with their family over age 50 to begin these urgent conversations.


Associations - Associations are being confronted with declining membership as aging business owners struggle to plan their retirement.

Deans makes a compelling case that associations have never been more important and indispensable when it comes to helping owners with their business succession planning.


Wealth Management/Financial Advisors - Why succession planning is key to tapping $10 trillion of new client capital.

Deans assists financial professionals in understanding the unique role they can play in helping family business clients safeguard their business assets.


Accountants -When do business owners turn to their accountants for therapy?

Deans provides business owners with the tools to protect generational wealth. Too many business owners have no succession plan - Deans assists accounting professionals to craft a sustainable tax efficient succession plan.


Business Owners - Your business: the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Deans outlines the most difficult yet crucial questions every family business owner MUST ask in order to preserve relationships and generational wealth.


Lawyers - Welcome to the family: when lawyers make family business planning succession work.

Deans shows how lawyers can act as a guide during turbulent times and ease the process for themselves and their clients. Lawyers learn how to grow their practice by becoming a resource to a business owner's entire family.


Insurance - A family's true legacy: talking to aging business owners about succession planning.

Deans' seminar demonstrates how knowledge and communication are fundamental to continuing a family's legacy - and provides the tools to get the conversation started.


Mergers and Acquisition Firms/Business Brokers/Private Equity Firms - Gifting family businesses destroys wealth and families with dizzying speed.

Deans offers a compelling argument that gifting a business is the greatest mistake a family can make. Instead, he lays out a straightforward process for a business to probe its sale, if not to family, then to market.

Recent Publications by Tom Deans

Every Family's Business


"Instead of the usual theme about how to hand off the family business to the next generation, Tom's book and speech offers a refreshing perspective encouraging family business owners to review all of their succession planning options, to challenge themselves by asking tough questions, and to focus on preserving their family wealth." The Succession Fund, Argosy Partners, Ltd.

"Tom's presentation is enlightening, engaging and entertaining...exactly what we expected following the book. He was prepared and open to discussing his perspective and experience as they relate to the complex topic of family business." Canadian Association of Family Enterprise

"Deans convinces his audience that businesses are temporary economic organizations always moving towards obsolescence - that the key to preserving generational wealth means abandoning the longevity of a business as a fundamental goal. With his entertaining style, he leaves you questioning everything you thought you knew about succession planning." MacKenzie Financial