Family Business Survey 2021

From trust to impact

Why family businesses need to act now to ensure their legacy tomorrow

The unprecedented, tumultuous events of the past year have presented family businesses with enormous challenges. And although many have demonstrated significant resilience amid the crisis—the rapidly changing state of the world has served as a wake-up call for family business leaders looking towards the future.

In our 10th PwC Global Family Business Survey, we reveal the current thinking—and future outlook—of 2801 family business leaders across 87 territories. Our findings show that it’s no longer enough to rely on values and legacy to propel the business forward. Tomorrow’s family business requires a new approach for lasting success—one based on accelerated digital transformation, prioritisation of sustainability goals and professional family governance.

Download the report

"If family businesses want to get to the sweet spot where competence and ethics converge, it requires a change of mindset, a rethinking of their priorities and behaviours and a new definition of legacy."

Peter

Peter Englisch 
Global Family Business Leader, Partner, PwC Germany

Key takeaways

The time to act is now if family businesses want to keep their legacy for future generations. Watch an overview of the key findings from the Family Business Survey 2021. 

Transcript

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1:22

Explore the survey themes

The survey and three panel discussions with family business owners and executives, representing a mix of businesses and industries from around the world resulted in the following key themes of the report.

Family businesses demonstrated resilience amid COVID-19 and are prepared to lead the post-pandemic recovery.

Though COVID-19 ravaged many organisations, family businesses proved robust and adaptable amid the pandemic. Through a people-first approach that prioritised the well-being of their employees and communities, 80% enabled staff to work from home and 25% repurposed production to meet pandemic-related demand. Only one-third of family businesses had to cut dividends, and only 20% needed access to extra capital. Such resilience also extends into the outlook for the future, as 80% of family businesses plan to diversify or expand into new products or markets, and 86% believe they will be back to pre-pandemic growth rates by 2022.

For more insights, as well as peer recommendations and tips on how to get started on them, download the full report.

Explore the theme in more detail

It’s time for family businesses to turn trust into impact and implement an ESG agenda.

The high level of trust commanded by family businesses positions them well to lead on sustainability. But intentions are not enough. Actionand a mindset shiftare needed. Though 55% of family businesses are willing to lead on sustainability, only 37% have a strategy. And although 80% give back through social responsibility activity, only 49% say sustainability is at the heart of everything they do. As pressure increases for businesses to contribute to a better environment and society, tomorrow’s family businesses must step forward, look beyond philanthropy and embed ESG into operating modelsand take concrete steps towards goals like achieving net zero in order to avoid punishment by consumers and regulators, and secure long-term stability.

For more insights, as well as peer recommendations and tips on how to get started on them, download the full report.

Explore the theme in more detail

Most family businesses do not have the digital tools and capabilities needed for a rapidly changing world.

The massive shift to digital services and work-from-home models as a result of COVID-19 has firmly spotlighted the importance of strong digital capabilities. Though digital has been on the agenda for family businesses for years (80% told us they were concerned about technology in our 2018 survey), progress has been slow. Only 39% say their digital capabilities are strong, and only 19% say that their digital journey is complete. How can family business leaders boost their digital capabilities for the future? One resource to leverage is the next generation. Our 2019 NextGen Survey found that younger family members see technology as one of the three most important drivers of change, and 64% felt this was the area where they could add value.

For more insights, as well as peer recommendations and tips on how to get started on them, download the full report.

Explore the theme in more detail

Family businesses can greatly benefit from a professional, clear structure for conflict resolution.

Relationships are what make a family business strong—but when emotionally charged conflicts arise, they can also be a hindrance to success. Disagreements are to be expected. Only 58% say that all family members share similar views about the company’s direction. So what can family business leaders do when tensions rise? When sensitive topics like succession are on the table, a family business can benefit from approaching internal governance with the same professionalism that’s applied to business strategy and operations. But for many family businesses, there is still progress to be made. Only 28% have family protocols, and just 23% have rules for family employment in place, and even if 77% indicated that they have to deal with conflicts, just 13% have a conflict resolution established. 

For more insights, as well as peer recommendations and tips on how to get started on them, download the full report.

Explore the theme in more detail

Explore the data

Filter the data by territory or region and compare it to the global average.
 

Grey bars denote global average for comparison

What was the impact of COVID-19 on sales?

Pre-COVID

55% Sales growth

55% Sales reduction

COVID Impact

55% Sales growth

55% Sales reduction

Grey bars denote global average

What are your key priorities over the next two years?

55% Expansion and/or diversification

55% Digital, innovation, technology

55% Evolving/new thinking

55% Sustainability and/or local community

Grey bars denote global average

What are your digital capabilities and priorities?

55% Strong, no longer a priority

55% Strong and still a priority

55% Not strong but is a priority

55% Not strong and not a priority

Grey blocks denote global average

Which of the statements below best describes the way you feel about the role of your family business today?

Delivering sustainable business practices

55% We want to lead the way

55% We are unlikely to lead, but we will play our part when required

Delivering benefits for the planet and human society

55% We need to lead the way

55% It is the role of the government to lead the way

Grey segments denote global average

What governance policies do you have in place?

55% Shareholders’ agreement

55% Dividend policy

55% Testament/last will

55% Family constitution or protocol

55% Family employment policy

Grey bars denote global average
Explore the data behind our survey and customise your view by country and region
Questions and Answers Global Australia Austria Brazil Canada Mainland China Colombia Bangladesh Denmark Ecuador Finland France Germany Greece Hong Kong India Indonesia Ireland Japan Kenya Malaysia Mexico Middle East Netherlands Nigeria Papua New Guinea Poland Portugal Romania Singapore South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Uganda UK US Vietnam Europe North America Central/South America Africa Asia Pacific
Q10. Looking back over the last financial year BEFORE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC would you say your sales have been
Sales growth 55% 63% 61% 63% 61% 65% 46% 52% 66% 36% 60% 56% 52% 60% 50% 60% 51% 67% 38% 52% 47% 42% 59% 49% 53% 38% 70% 69% 55% 49% 63% 46% 77% 36% 43% 39% 43% 53% 63% 33% 55% 62% 56% 53% 51%
Sales reduction 19% 16% 22% 13% 19% 19% 33% 17% 13% 31% 10% 13% 24% 17% 15% 18% 25% 9% 23% 28% 29% 35% 21% 12% 22% 35% 10% 19% 24% 21% 19% 20% 7% 30% 22% 31% 46% 16% 11% 24% 17% 14% 20% 27% 21%
Q11. And what do you think the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on your sales?
Sales growth 28% 42% 17% 51% 31% 32% 25% 43% 38% 14% 20% 14% 22% 31% 14% 32% 15% 30% 18% 22% 24% 29% 22% 24% 31% 12% 37% 19% 36% 23% 35% 18% 44% 17% 38% 11% 17% 32% 34% 24% 25% 33% 41% 25% 26%
Sales reduction 46% 32% 57% 28% 47% 38% 51% 31% 36% 58% 47% 61% 51% 48% 56% 40% 60% 48% 62% 48% 53% 52% 56% 32% 41% 65% 47% 48% 33% 56% 31% 64% 35% 55% 41% 61% 69% 46% 47% 42% 47% 47% 36% 47% 48%
Q21. Which, if any, of the following are the company's TOP FIVE priorities for the next two years?
NET: Expansion/Diversification 82% 83% 83% 87% 70% 84% 86% 78% 79% 92% 88% 90% 79% 79% 73% 85% 80% 77% 87% 92% 86% 87% 84% 77% 88% 68% 90% 81% 82% 91% 80% 80% 74% 79% 86% 86% 71% 77% 87% 79% 81% 81% 87% 83% 82%
NET: Digital, innovation, technology 80% 76% 91% 85% 77% 73% 81% 67% 83% 83% 90% 77% 88% 74% 74% 87% 71% 78% 78% 80% 90% 74% 75% 76% 69% 59% 80% 90% 85% 84% 80% 79% 74% 88% 70% 83% 86% 81% 77% 82% 82% 77% 84% 79% 77%
NET: Evolving/new thinking 65% 58% 57% 60% 75% 54% 70% 59% 62% 64% 75% 73% 57% 60% 58% 76% 71% 70% 57% 66% 69% 65% 67% 60% 72% 76% 77% 67% 70% 84% 73% 51% 67% 56% 70% 72% 71% 68% 74% 67% 63% 74% 62% 71% 66%
NET: Sustainability/local community 39% 34% 61% 35% 42% 37% 35% 35% 45% 36% 37% 64% 39% 48% 26% 33% 19% 53% 20% 52% 27% 42% 36% 55% 41% 41% 37% 65% 33% 25% 36% 48% 44% 37% 35% 33% 29% 54% 35% 21% 47% 37% 36% 41% 30%
Q28.SUM. We have strong digital capabilities
Digital strong and no longer a priority 19% 24% 13% 15% 25% 21% 18% 7% 26% 31% 32% 26% 10% 24% 20% 15% 17% 19% 28% 24% 8% 16% 26% 23% 25% 32% 20% 17% 33% 13% 31% 14% 12% 21% 11% 17% 17% 14% 26% 9% 19% 26% 17% 26% 18%
Digital strong and still a priority 19% 21% 26% 13% 16% 14% 16% 31% 21% 17% 27% 11% 24% 17% 14% 11% 8% 23% 13% 24% 16% 26% 18% 28% 16% 6% 13% 15% 21% 16% 15% 33% 37% 23% 16% 11% 20% 35% 16% 21% 24% 16% 15% 17% 16%
Digital not strong but a priority 33% 28% 48% 40% 36% 32% 39% 19% 40% 25% 28% 26% 51% 29% 24% 46% 32% 25% 28% 22% 43% 26% 29% 27% 34% 26% 43% 48% 30% 38% 24% 26% 21% 42% 24% 31% 46% 25% 23% 21% 34% 27% 37% 29% 31%
Digital not strong and not a priority 29% 28% 13% 32% 23% 33% 28% 43% 13% 28% 13% 37% 16% 31% 42% 27% 43% 33% 30% 30% 33% 32% 27% 23% 25% 35% 23% 21% 15% 34% 31% 28% 30% 15% 49% 42% 17% 26% 35% 48% 23% 31% 32% 28% 35%
Q33a. Which of the statements below best describes the way you feel about the role of your family business today?
There is an opportunity for family businesses like ours to lead the way in sustainable business practices 55% 36% 61% 56% 50% 65% 82% 67% 43% 81% 55% 57% 51% 64% 35% 68% 59% 55% 60% 64% 49% 61% 59% 51% 53% 53% 50% 63% 55% 46% 68% 64% 56% 53% 46% 56% 77% 61% 40% 45% 56% 43% 62% 63% 52%
Family businesses like ours are unlikely to lead, but we will play our part when required 36% 54% 26% 38% 42% 29% 14% 26% 45% 14% 33% 33% 37% 31% 52% 29% 33% 40% 13% 36% 43% 32% 30% 40% 38% 38% 30% 35% 33% 48% 29% 29% 42% 36% 41% 39% 23% 39% 41% 45% 36% 41% 32% 33% 38%
Q33c. Which of the statements below best describes the way you feel about the role of your family business today?
In order to succeed going forward, our business is going to need to deliver greater benefits for the planet and human society 53% 33% 35% 69% 42% 71% 77% 54% 47% 61% 38% 59% 40% 52% 41% 68% 60% 50% 62% 58% 57% 61% 52% 59% 69% 44% 33% 75% 52% 55% 63% 58% 58% 43% 49% 53% 49% 53% 35% 30% 49% 37% 69% 58% 52%
We will play our part, but it is the role of government not businesses like ours to deliver greater benefits for the planet and human society 30% 42% 48% 18% 33% 13% 9% 31% 36% 22% 47% 21% 36% 38% 30% 24% 31% 38% 12% 26% 33% 13% 30% 23% 19% 44% 50% 17% 30% 33% 27% 20% 35% 38% 43% 31% 43% 42% 27% 55% 34% 29% 16% 29% 31%
Q15. Which of the following policies and procedures, if any, do you have in place?
Shareholders’ agreement 47% 41% 39% 58% 61% 56% 33% 31% 68% 36% 75% 53% 9% 40% 50% 32% 48% 66% 27% 40% 37% 48% 58% 71% 28% 41% 33% 25% 42% 35% 57% 44% 63% 62% 43% 25% 57% 53% 70% 39% 47% 67% 51% 45% 39%
Dividend policy 37% 28% 39% 42% 36% 57% 37% 17% 30% 25% 55% 30% 36% 29% 36% 30% 29% 32% 15% 18% 27% 48% 40% 64% 22% 21% 27% 33% 36% 28% 45% 44% 58% 46% 57% 33% 17% 61% 45% 18% 42% 42% 40% 29% 30%
Testament/last will 34% 58% 48% 17% 77% 6% 23% 7% 57% 8% 67% 17% 62% 10% 24% 17% 12% 38% 20% 38% 18% 35% 8% 61% 13% 53% 23% 4% 3% 13% 72% 43% 58% 42% 5% 8% 17% 54% 74% 6% 43% 75% 18% 41% 22%
Family constitution or protocol 28% 18% 39% 37% 22% 3% 40% 17% 40% 31% 35% 34% 32% 12% 8% 27% 17% 16% 7% 28% 20% 35% 48% 57% 9% 26% 20% 42% 9% 13% 23% 54% 28% 40% 11% 17% 9% 35% 33% 21% 34% 30% 37% 19% 16%
Family employment policy 23% 9% 35% 32% 33% 5% 37% 13% 17% 25% 37% 17% 31% 24% 6% 13% 16% 19% 5% 22% 12% 32% 33% 36% - 32% 10% 25% 6% 8% 24% 44% 12% 31% 8% 17% 14% 23% 45% 12% 26% 41% 31% 17% 11%

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Contact us

Peter Englisch

Peter Englisch

Global Family Business and EMEA Entrepreneurial and Private Business Leader, Partner, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 201 438 1812

Francesca  Ambrosini

Francesca Ambrosini

Family Business Client Programs, PwC United Kingdom

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