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Men twice as likely to inherit family business, study reveals

Men are twice as likely as women to inherit a family business, perpetuating the entrepreneurial gender gap, a major new study has revealed.

The finding forms part of Cynergy Bank’s new research into family business succession plans.

According to the report, women are still being regularly overlooked for leadership roles in both family and non-family firms.

Among those who intend to keep ownership of a company in the family, male relatives are prioritised and are almost twice as likely as females to take over the business.

In total, 42 per cent of those passing down a business say they will hand over ownership to a male relative compared to just 22 per cent who say ownership will go into the hands of a female.

This is particularly true of “stereotypically male” professions, such as construction and the trades.

However, attitudes are changing. Almost half (45 per cent) of family business owners claim that the introduction of gender gap reporting has made them “reconsider assumptions about gender and leadership”, while just a third believe “it’s only natural that family businesses pass onto male relatives”.

Commenting on the report, 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 in 2019.

“Family businesses make a significant contribution to the communities in which they operate. 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.”

The study comes after Cynergy Bank announced a £75 million fund for female-led family firms.

Are you passing down a family business? Get expert support from our family-focused business advisory team today.

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John Morgan

John Morgan

Senior Associate – Corporate / Commercial at Mander Hadley Solicitors
A law graduate of Warwick University, I trained and qualified as a solicitor in London in 1977 before spending several years in the Middle East where I acted on major corporate, commercial and banking transactions, many with an international aspect.

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