WED 13TH NOV 2019

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Bringing the family business community together

The UK Family Business Agenda

23rd October 2019 Paul Andrews

So what is keeping the UK family business sector awake at night?  Results of our 2019 Family Business Survey tell all.

Family Business UNited are delighted to publish the findings from our 2019 Family Business Survey, sponsored by Mazars.  As well as looking at the challenges that are causing angst in the board room, we have also looked into specific challenges around Legacy, Purpose, Succession, Productivity and Social Media.

So what are the key challenges facing family firms across the UK today?

Unsurprisingly, the 2019 FBU Family Business Survey has identified uncertainty around the economic environment as the key challenge facing family businesses. It ranks as the number one concern for 55% of family firms and is undoubtedly giving people sleepless nights as they continue to try and run profitable and sustainable businesses.  

Further significant concerns for UK family businesses revolve around recruitment, retaining and motivating staff, marketing, PR and social media along with regulation, red tape and legislation.

The Top 10 Concerns On The Family Business Agenda

  1. The Economic Climate (55%)

  2. Profitability & Sustainability of The Business(54%)

  3. Recruiting, Retaining & Motivating Staff (48%)

  4. Marketing, PR & Social Media (40%)

  5. Regulation, Red Tape & Legislation (38%)

  6. Brand Reputation & Risk (32%)

  7. Innovation, Technology & The Internet (31%)

  8. Improving Customer Engagement (30%)

  9. Cyber Security (29%)

  10. Succession/Identifying & Developing Future Leaders (28%)

All businesses have a lot on their plate at present and the agenda is very much dominated by ‘business issues’ rather than issues that are more specific to the family business sector.

As Paul Andrews, Founder and Managing Director of FBU, explains: “For many years the topic of succession planning and generational transition has often been cited as the biggest concern facing family firms. Clearly, the results of the 2019 survey indicate that business matters are more pressing and the prevailing economic and political uncertainty is being borne in board rooms the length and breadth of the UK.”

As Paul adds: “Whilst it is totally understandable that the agenda is dominated by practical business matters, families in business need to make sure that some of the trickier and more emotional conversations around the likes of  transition, roles, responsibilities, family and business interaction and governance are not forgotten and put aside. Family matters still need to be addressed, so that the family and business is able to work together as one with shared purpose, values and drive that can deal with all other challenges they face.”

Furthermore, recruitment, retention and motivation of staff is also highlighted as a key concern. 

As Margaret Laidlaw, Head of Entrepreneurial Business at Mazars confirms: “Family firms are genuinely recognised as good employers. In many situations, they have employed generations of the same family and have treated employees well, often recognising members of staff as ‘extensions’ to their own family."

“That said, there is often difficulty in recruiting at a senior level, possibly as a result of perceptions around the lack of long-term opportunities to non-family members. However, creating the strategic board of the future is something that many family firms know needs to be done t and in many cases are already planning to look outside of the family, to do so,” explains Margaret.

As Paul concludes: “Despite the uncertainties, family business owners will continue to take the approach they have for generations which is to create businesses for the long-term, invest sensibly to create sustainable firms and continue to focus on preserving the business for generations to come.”

Find out more and download the survey here

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