Gen Y workers believe parents will find it hard to let go of the family business: report

A majority of Gen Y workers believe their parents will have a hard time letting go of the family business, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s global next generation family business survey.

The research published yesterday found 64% of next generational family business workers have concerns about the succession process, which is one of the key challenges facing all family businesses.

However, 87% of respondents said they believe their parents have confidence in them to take the reins and 91% would value continued input in the business from their parents.

An overwhelming 88% of next generation family business members surveyed said they believe they have to work harder than others to establish credibility and defend themselves against perceived nepotism, while just 46% of interviewees had worked outside of the family business.

The survey is based on 207 interviews with next generation members who are likely to take over their family business from 21 countries. The survey focused on family businesses from a range of sectors with annual turnover of more than $5 million.

This is the first time PwC has conducted a survey into next generation family business members, however a PwC spokesperson told SmartCompany the survey is likely to be undertaken every two years following its global family business survey.

David Wills, PwC private clients team national managing partner, said different expectations between generations can complicate succession planning in family businesses.

“This differing mindset between the young guns who are raring to go and the older generation who don’t feel they’re ready, can lead to ‘sticky baton’ syndrome where the current generation hands over the business in theory, but in reality retains control over everything that really matters,” he said in a statement.

“This may lead to ineffective decision making and poor communications that may ultimately impact the businesses’ success and disrupt family harmony.”

Wills said the trend for the baby boomer generation to work for longer also poses a challenge to family businesses.

“Many baby boomers are now choosing to work longer so the time between succession points in family businesses is increasing,” he said. “This means many next gens feel like they’re in permanent limbo and wondering if they will ever get their chance at the helm.”

Robin Buckham, chief executive of Family Business Australia, recently told SmartCompany: “It’s amazing how many people won’t have the conversation” about succession planning in a family business.

“It’s important to sort succession as early as possible,” said Buckham, who said it can take up to a decade for some businesses to sort through these issues. “Stop saying ‘if I die’ and start saying ‘when I die’.”

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