Real life Succession

29 October 2021

As the latest series of the US TV programme Succession airs and viewers are yet again drawn into the complex lives of the Roy family members as they contemplate (and squabble over!) the future of the family’s global media business, the challenges for these families are thrown into focus. 

It is easy to get drawn into the “perils” for family businesses. Indeed, some of the storylines in Succession can be likened to real life issues faced by wealthy families in business. However, the 2021 EY and University of St Gallen Family Business Index - analysing the world’s 500 largest family enterprises - highlights the success, resilience and agility of family businesses in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Notably, family businesses in the Index currently collectively constitute the third largest economic contribution in the world by revenue, employing over 24 million people in 45 jurisdictions. During the pandemic, many took the opportunity to shift their focus, for example, by manufacturing essential items or providing financial support to other businesses.

75% of the enterprises in the Index have been in business for over 50 years, and 32% are over 100 years old, demonstrating that achieving success as a family business is down to the committed efforts of multiple generations. The Index notes that “as the family and wealth grows over generations, the business becomes more complicated” – it is therefore vital that families take the time to address governance arrangements and other key issues, putting in place goals and controls to ensure a smooth path to success and to minimise potential difficulties associated with generational transition.

We will be speaking about the challenges faced by UK and international family businesses, and suggesting tips and tools to overcome them, in our upcoming 17 November event “The business of family: overcoming challenges to ensure success”, where we are delighted to be joined by Rob Lachenauer, Harvard Business Review author and the CEO of family business advisers Banyan Global.

The event will be held virtually over Zoom at 3pm UK time. Register your interest if you would like to attend.

The success of family businesses is often down to the extraordinary efforts and vision of the first generation, with the next generation building on that legacy while following its own approach.