Family businesses: women are taking the helm

Insights, Trends, Geopolitics
23/04/2019 Temps de lecture: 2 minute(s)

For business founders and entrepreneurs, the time for retirement is not set in stone. Nonetheless, the baby boomers among them are now reaching an age where the question of succession is becoming unavoidable. For many, it is essential to pass on the reins within the family. With more daughters than ever moving up to top positions, this can make itself felt outside the company: in the particular sector, in business and in society.

Family firms make up a large proportion of companies, provide the majority of private-sector jobs and are prominently represented on the stock markets. If a trend in this segment becomes apparent, such as an increasing proportion of women in company management, it has far-reaching consequences for the economy as a whole and for investors.

Baby boomers and their daughters

It is a widespread wish that succession remains within the family, a preference held not only by business owners of the old school. In the past, this would have meant handing the company over to the son. In the current wave of retirements among baby boomers, daughters (or nieces, daughters-in-law etc.) are also increasingly getting a chance, and right across the board too, i.e. even in traditionally male-dominated sectors. This has the potential to transform the character of these sectors.

Many SME business owners belong to the baby boomer generation, which will reach normal retirement age in the next ten years. The number of owners wishing to pass on their business is therefore likely to increase*.

Potential signal for investors

Studies have shown that women do good at the management level of an enterprise. It also follows that firms taking on a pioneering role in this regard would also think ahead in other respects. At least, this is how it is at present. In the not too distant future, women-dominated management teams may no longer signal anything to investors, as they will appear too frequently and will be too evenly distributed. 

Risks of investing in financial markets

Investing in financial markets involves risks. The price, value and return of an investment depend, among other factors, on economic trends and the prices of the underlying securities.


*University of St. Gallen, Herausforderung Generationenwechsel [The Challenge of Generational Shift], 2016

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