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US NextGen Survey 2022

Future focus: The next generation weighs in on how they will lead US family businesses

For the first time in the history of PwC’s Global NextGen Survey, we’ve singled out specific findings about the next generation of family business leaders in the United States. The report highlights their laser focus on key priorities that can move family businesses forward, even as they grapple with important issues like the global pandemic, a shifting economy and sustainability. While the US results show similarities to the global report findings, we’ve found unique challenges and opportunities experienced by NextGens in the United States.

The three key areas of focus for US NextGens include: growth through new products, new markets and M&A opportunities, attracting and retaining talent and leading the way in sustainable business practices. These strategic priorities can help them navigate their family business through a maze of challenges that have not been in play for decades.

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What are the family business priorities for US NextGens?

In our survey, NextGens had to consider some difficult tradeoffs to identify and prioritize the elements that will produce the greatest impact on their family business. Both now and in the future. 

Business growth and talent management are their most important priorities, according to our survey. While their global peers ranked these priorities similarly, a much larger percentage of US NextGens deem these areas vital to moving forward.

Although US NextGens recognize the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, ESG-related priorities rank at the bottom of the list when NextGens face the hard choice of what to focus on for the business. This is not the case for global peers who ranked environmental concerns, sustainability and impact much higher.

Key US NextGen priorities over the next two years


All priorities
Top two priorities
Global All priorities

Achieving business growth
%
%
%
Talent management - attracting/retaining the best young talent
%
%
%
Ensuring we offer the right products and services for today’s customers
%
%
%
Adopting new technologies
%
%
%
Expanding into new sectors or markets
%
%
%
Improving the working conditions/practices of our employees
%
%
%
Reconsidering our asset allocation and investments
%
%
%
All priorities
Top two priorities
Global All priorities

Supporting local community via increased investment or business activity
%
%
%
Investing in innovation and R&D
%
%
%
Upskilling the digital capabilities of our workforce
%
%
%
Increasing our focus on privacy and cybersecurity
%
%
%
Reducing the organization’s environmental impact
%
%
%
Increasing our focus on investments for sustainability and impact
%
%
%

Q9a. From your own personal point of view, what would be your priorities for the company over the next two years?
Q9b. And which of those would be your TOP TWO options?
Source: PwC US NextGen Survey 2022.
Base: all US respondents (n=53, all Global respondents (n=1036)

Family business growth according to US NextGens

Three quarters of US NextGens see business growth as a key priority over the next two years (compared to 65% globally). The high percentage could be due to cultural differences in the United States or because the US economy typically outperforms the rest of the world, but growth is often top of mind for family business leaders. Family businesses have a special reason to feel the pressure to grow because as the size of the family increases, more revenue is required to support its members. A shared family capital strategy is one way families can think holistically about sustaining multi-generational wealth.

As companies grow, the level of complexity tends to increase. Many families consider a family office as a way to manage this complexity, meet their financial needs, provide greater control over their wealth and handle their personal affairs. Typically, a family office is needed when the family grows to include more generations, or when more formal governance becomes necessary. According to our findings, 55% of US NextGens report having a family office. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach: A family can be organized as a separate entity or it may be embedded in one of the family’s operating companies. Take a look at these examples:

  • Multi-family office: Great for families that aren’t too complex. This can be a cost-effective model.
  • Single-family office: Fully separates the family’s personal dealings from the business. Makes it easier to eventually sell or go public with the legacy operating entity.
  • Virtual family office: A viable option for globally diverse teams and families, this can be an extremely cost-effective model.
  • Hybrid family office: The best of both worlds—certain aspects of the family office are outsourced but an embedded family office remains for select functions.

How can family businesses grow?

Our survey, along with additional data, shows that NextGens are focused on three key paths to growth:


%

of US NextGens see confirming that they have the right products and services for today’s customers as a key priority.


%

of US NextGens see expansion into new sectors/markets as a key priority.


%

of US family businesses cite pursuing strategic acquisitions or mergers as their top priority.

Learn more in our 2021 US Family Business Survey

“This is a fun and exciting time in our company’s history. We’re currently discussing how to continue our growth trend. We’re considering new products, expanding to global locations, acquisitions—we’re looking at all opportunities for growth, not just organic growth.”

Sarah Lodge TallyDirector at Lodge Manufacturing Company

NextGens prioritize attracting and retaining talent for family businesses

Talent is tied with growth as the top concern for US NextGens. Three quarters of respondents see talent acquisition, management and retention as a key priority over the next two years (compared to 48% globally). Talent is often considered a growth driver and could be essential for family businesses focused on delivering their growth goals through their people. In fact, in PwC’s February 2022 Pulse Survey, 92% of private companies indicated that hiring and retaining talent is very important to their growth. 

Having grown up in the family business, NextGen generally have a deep understanding of its values and missions and can be stewards of leveraging the cultural identity of the business to cultivate trust with both current and potential employees.


%

of US NextGens are now or will be personally actively engaged in talent acquisition and management.

Now is the time to act on ESG

ESG is a hot topic and the trends driving the need for sustainable business practices are here for the long-term. Though ESG reporting isn’t required for private companies, savvy consumers and the younger generation that put more emphasis on sustainability factors tend to prioritize products and services from companies they perceive as acting responsibly, whether it's the products and services they want to buy or the companies they want to work for. 

Though 60% of US Next Gens see the opportunity to lead the way in sustainable business practices, only 23% are currently engaged in reducing their company’s environmental impact. It’s possible that this discrepancy is caused by competing priorities that feel more urgent—like growing the business and managing talent.

Mismatch on ESG priority versus action


%

of US Next Gens see the opportunity to lead the way in sustainable business practices, but…


%

are currently engaged in reducing their company’s environmental impact.

“My father believed that we have an obligation to leave the world better than the way we found it. These days, most of our investments are tied to the betterment of the world and we actively seek opportunities to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Jonathan ZuckerPresident and CEO at The InterTech Group, Inc.

Contact us

Renee Klein

Renee Klein

US NextGen Program Leader, PwC US

Jonathan  Flack

Jonathan Flack

US Family Enterprises Leader, PwC US

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