Ultra-wealthy women to transform family financial dynamics over the next decade

Younger women are taking on leadership positions and becoming more involved in family businesses, new survey finds

Defocused shot of two businesspeople shaking hands in an office

The next generation of high-net-worth women will transform family and banking dynamics as they achieve higher levels of education and become more involved in family businesses, according to a new research report.

Up to 82 per cent of women from wealthy families are expected to inherit huge sums of wealth over the next two decades, making them significant beneficiaries of an estimated $5 trillion that will be transferred to the next generation by 2030, the Smarter Succession survey by Barclays Private Bank said on Monday.

Despite the increased wealth among women, 41 per cent of respondents said they were not involved in the financial decision making of their family businesses, according to the survey, which polled more than 400 global HNW family members in countries including France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK.

Forty-six per cent of women surveyed said they are involved in the day-to-day running of family businesses compared with 60 per cent of men, the study added.

However, social and cultural changes have started to change the dynamics of HNW families, with 54 per cent of women holding stakes in family businesses compared with 57 per cent of men, while 43 per cent of HNW women have postgraduate qualifications compared with just 14 per cent of their parents.

“The fact that female ownership of family businesses does not equate to high levels of day-to-day involvement potentially leaves female voices less heard in family business board rooms,” the report said.

However, the tide across the Gulf is changing for women in HNW families and also within family businesses, according to Rahim Daya, head of Barclays Private Bank for the UAE and Middle East.

“Increased access to higher levels of education is having powerful implications for women in the Middle East and family offices in the region are increasingly professionalising their boards," Mr Daya added.

Family wealth

“We are seeing women take more leadership positions and become increasingly involved in all financial decisions.”

While 83 per cent of male respondents said they are the decision makers for family wealth, the survey found that 29 per cent of both men and women turned to their sons on matters of wealth, finance and investment compared with just 14 per cent who sought advice from their daughters.

However, a cultural shift is occurring and younger generations have a less traditional outlook on life, it added.

“As traditional family roles change and more women hold prominent positions in international business, their growing global influence is going to be a major economic force over the next decade, redefining areas that have historically been focused on, and dominated by, men,” Rasha Badawi, director at Barclays Wealth and Investment Management Middle East, said.