Sons twice as likely to inherit family firms as daughters, study suggests

Family firms are still mainly being handed down to sons rather than daughters, new research suggests.

Those who inherit a business usually did so from their father or grandfather rather than a female member of the family, a study indicated.

Cynergy Bank said sons were twice as likely as daughters to take over a family firm, especially in sectors such as construction.

The bank said its research among more than 1,000 smaller businesses showed many believed it was “only natural” for sons to inherit a company.

Nick Fahy, chief executive of Cynergy Bank, said: “Historically family businesses have overlooked female leadership talent and handed their businesses down to sons and nephews.

“It’s disappointing to see that this is still the case. Family businesses make a significant contribution to the communities in which they operate, so it’s important they reflect these communities in their leadership.

“We frequently see ‘& Sons’ incorporated into the name of family firms. There are some ‘& Daughters’ out there, but they are few and far between.”

Amalia Brightley-Gillott, managing director of Family Business Place, a consultancy which supports leaders of family firms, said: “For many women, the window for taking over the reins of the family firm often coincides with the time when they want to start a family.

“Unfortunately, this can lead to them being overlooked. Instead of accommodating this within the succession plan, a brother or a male cousin is often primed for the role instead.

“More recently there has been a shift in the way we work and run businesses. Flexible hours, working on the go, working from home have all led to women being able to achieve their goals in business whilst also managing a family.

“The best business leaders know that, in order for the business to continue and succeed, everyone should have an equal opportunity based on merit, not gender.”

Cynergy Bank will launch a £75 million fund in 2020 aimed at female-led family firms.