2019 US Family Business Survey

Creating stronger foundations for the future

Welcome to our 2019 edition of PwC’s US Family Business Survey

This year’s findings speak to the importance of being prepared to compete in a far more digital economy, a challenge for business leaders everywhere. CEOs globally are working to bridge gaps in their data capabilities. Yet family businesses are coming into this arena with an advantage. They have built valuable trust among loyal employees and their ownership group. So how to turn values like loyalty and hard work into a multi-generational success story? We see four moves ahead to consider to build a lasting and profitable legacy:

  1. Codify your values and purpose into your strategy. If this is where your family business has a competitive edge, take it to the next step.
  2. Ensure the next generation is deeply involved - they have a lot to offer families grappling with digitalization.
  3. Determine the skill sets needed for a more digital future. Raising the ‘Digital IQ’ of the business is closely entwined with raising digital capabilities of existing workforce and determining future skill sets. With 80% of US CEOs expecting AI to significantly change the way they do business in the next five years, the race for talent will only intensify. US family business leaders are aware of the challenges, keeping and rewarding employees are seen as top priorities.
  4. Professionalize the board by bringing in independent directors with external expertise in future growth areas for your business.

Thinking through the implications of a more digitally-integrated economy should not be decoupled from thinking through who should run the business in the future and who can best help guide it.

I hope these findings serves as a useful starting point for conversations you will have with the current and next generation of leaders as you set a course for continued success.

You’re invited to register with us to receive the full report. Let us know if you have any questions or would like to discuss.

Jon Flack

US Family Business Leader

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Explore the survey themes

US leaders are confident in prospects for their family businesses

Family businesses are straddling running a successful business today with planning for a future which may require different skills.

This is where strategic planning is essential. Digital disruption goes to the heart of some of the values family businesses hold dear.

About a third of family businesses are expected to last beyond the founders’ generation while even less—an estimated 12%—will make it to a third generation.

In making the transition from first generation to second, family businesses face the transformation from start-up entrepreneur to a more structured, complex organization. This is the most difficult transition for family businesses; not all will succeed. About a third of family businesses are expected to last beyond the founders’ generation while even less – an estimated 12% - will make it through the second generation to a third.

Determine the skill sets needed for a more digital future

Raising the ‘Digital IQ’ of the business is closely entwined with raising digital capabilities of existing workforce and determining skill sets needed for a more digital future. US family business leaders are aware of the challenges. Innovation and skills gaps were the two biggest challenges mentioned, while business leaders cited hiring, keeping and rewarding employees as top priorities.

Expecting the natural evolution of family boards to accelerate

As a family firm grows and becomes more complex, the board typically evolves along with it, adapting more formal processes and policies to support the long-term health of the business. We continue to see family companies more interested in corporate governance than we did a decade ago.

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Jonathan Flack

Partner, US Family Enterprises Leader, PwC US

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