• The Future of Family Business in NI Report

The Future of Family Business in NI Report

06 November 2017

Only a quarter of Northern Ireland’s family-owned businesses have a clear succession plan in place, despite two-thirds recognising it as a critical factor for their organisation’s future success.

That is one of a number of findings from our Future of Family Business in NI Report which identifies the main challenges and issues most likely to cause disruption to family firms. Almost three-quarters of companies in the region are classed as ‘family run’ and more than half (53 per cent) are in either their second or third generation.

The Future of Family Businesses in Northern Ireland is one of the largest surveys of its kind to engage family-owned businesses of all sizes and sectors on a range of critical issues including succession planning, market changes and the potential impact of Brexit.

Other key findings indicate that:

  • The vast majority of family businesses in Northern Ireland (93 per cent) export to the Republic of Ireland
  • 78 per cent of companies expect Brexit will not be significantly detrimental to business
  • 89 per cent recognised the need for innovation in their own business and 64 per cent believed they possess the required skills and capabilities for this innovation. 
  • However, 60 per cent of firms identified employee recruitment as one of their biggest growth challenges. 

Maybeth Shaw, Partner and Family Business expert at BDO Northern Ireland commented on the report saying:

“This survey is about capturing the experiences and concerns of family owned businesses in Northern Ireland and give them a stronger voice on the issues important to them. Overall, the findings from the survey are positive, in that the businesses are confident, despite the changing economic environment, and ready to innovate."

“Many of the businesses who took part in our survey recognised the real threat they faced in transitioning to the next generation and this is where proactive structured planning is key. While most understand the importance of succession planning, the majority of businesses have yet to implement policies that they know are vital to the smooth operation and continued success of their business.”

She added:

“While we do not know what business will look like post-Brexit we know family businesses will need to plan for all eventualities to give them the best chance of sustaining and growing for years to come. Family businesses are unique in that they have to find a balance which meets the needs of the family while also sustaining the business. Early planning and good guidance are critical to ensure they can thrive now and transition efficiently when the time comes.”

The Future of Family Businesses in Northern Ireland survey defines a family-owned business as one in which two or more family members are involved and where the majority of ownership or control lies within the family.

To view the full report click the download button below.

If you would like to discuss anything within the report in more detail with our Family Business team, please don't hesitate to contact us.