Almost six in 10 senior members of global high-net-worth families believe that younger generations are not fully prepared to take over family businesses and investments, according to a new survey.
Nearly 40 per cent of HNW families in the Middle East believe that millennials, aged between 24 and 39, are not committed to maintaining established wealth, the survey by Barclays Private Bank, which polled more than 400 global HNW individuals and families with at least £5 million (Dh23.7m) in assets, showed.
“The transfer of wealth between generations is an emotive subject for families and one that has risen to the top of the agenda recently, accelerated by the pressures of Covid-19,” said Effie Datson, global head of family offices at Barclays Private Bank.
The pressure on HNW families to transfer wealth has been exacerbated by the business challenges created by Covid-19, with 38 per cent of respondents saying they are reassessing their financial strategy as a result of the pandemic and 70 per cent admitting their wealth management aims had changed, the Barclays survey found.
“Family businesses across the GCC which have prospered in the past, are facing new challenges as a result of the pandemic and falling oil prices,” said Rahim Daya, head of private banking, Barclays Middle East.
“The pandemic is leading many family businesses to review and reevaluate how they will fund their liquidity, longevity and legacy needs.”
According to A Generational Shift: Family Wealth Transfer Report 2019 by Wealth-X, about 25,000 HNW individuals in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East are expected to transfer $15 trillion to the next generation by 2030.
The Barclays survey found that just 45 per cent of millennials globally feel they are prepared to take over their family businesses, and an additional 23 per cent feel nervous about the prospect of their inheritance.
However, respondents in the GCC are better prepared to take forward the family legacy, with 49 per cent of respondents saying they have been raised in a business-owning background.
The Barclays research added that many HNW families have already shared some business ownership between generations, with 41 per cent of millennials acting as minority co-owners in a family structure. This does not, however, always translate to a share of control, with 57 per cent of senior family members saying they remain the only decision makers for business strategies.
The older generation feels their personal identity is tied to business success, having often held a singular authority over the business and investments, the survey said. Of older respondents, 67 per cent said they are cautious about relinquishing control, while 35 per cent are uneasy about the next generation’s potential appetite for taking on extra risk.
“One way we see families successfully transition wealth between the generations is by establishing strong governance within their family office,” Ms Datson said.
“It is important for families to have open, honest dialogue about their priorities and concerns, and build trust between the generations.”