GCC Family Business are Confident about Prospects for 2018

GCC Family Business are Confident about Prospects for 2018

Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 - 08:00
The Gulf Cooperation Council's family businesses have shown confidence in their prospects for 2018, found KPMG. (Reuters)
London - Mutlaq Muneer
The Gulf Cooperation Council's family businesses have shown confidence in their prospects for 2018, as they begin to adapt to the “new norm” of lower oil prices and the impact of geopolitical developments, according to KPMG’s recently published “GCC Family Business Survey 2017”.

The report analyses the thoughts of over 40 senior members of family businesses from GCC countries, on trends and issues affecting the family business sector.

Head of Family Business for KPMG in the Middle East and South Asia Harish Gopinath, commented on the report, saying that in the GCC, perhaps more than anywhere else world-wide, family businesses form the backbone of the economy.

"Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed suggesting that they are confident about their business’ prospects in the coming 12 months and we can take this sentiment as a positive indicator for the region’s economic conditions," added Gopinath.

The survey identified that for many family business, growth is still high on the agenda, with 81 percent focusing on improving profitability, while 55 percent focus on increasing revenue. As family businesses expand through the generations, it is essential that enough profit is generated to distribute to an increasing number of members.

Nearly half of participants in the report noted that increased competition (a potential blocker to growth) was a major concern. It is only natural that 38 percent are planning to diversify their products and services and 23 percent were looking to move into new markets.

Finding the right balance between the interests of the family and that of the business, is clearly a key concern for family businesses, 77 percent of respondents considering it a very important aspect.

Gopinath continued: “Good governance is a success factor for growing family businesses, and each organization requires a unique, fit-for-purpose governance structure that will carry the business into future generations, whilst managing the risks associated with succession and sustainable growth effectively."

He added that family businesses appear to be acknowledging this by ensuring that they have the right mechanisms in place, including a formal board of directors (85 percent) and formal advisory boards (22 percent). However, only 20 percent of respondents indicated that they have adopted a family council.

The role of board of directors is to manage the business, the family council resolves and regulates family issues by creating a common set of rules that define the conditions for entering into family ownership, governing bodies or operational positions in the company.

In addition, family councils are responsible for outlining the training and development conditions, and ensuring that there are the required skills, motivations and experiences necessary for business success. They therefor play a pivotal role in ensuring the sustainability of the organization.

Succession is also at the top-of-mind for most family businesses with 88 percent of respondents noting that training and preparing a successor is crucial for the business’ survival and success.

About 38 percent of respondents expecting to pass management over in the coming 12 months and 21 percent expecting to transfer ownership. Gopinath explained that “when there are family members willing to take over the reins, the challenge lies in ensuring a smooth transition for all involved.

It is crucial that planning and preparing for a change in management or ownership is done at an early stage and in a transparent way to ensure that all affected parties not only understand the implications, but support the change, explained Gopinath.

KPMG’s GCC family business survey 2017 analyzed the responses of 42 senior members of family businesses in the six GCC countries about how confident they are in the future of their organizations, the challenges they face and the mechanisms they have in place to support sustainable growth.

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