Thought leadership

The Family Business Center of Excellence is committed to bringing you the latest thinking on family business, with regular publication of proprietary reports and thought leadership. We also support other organizations globally, to bring to life important family business publications.


Does having deep roots guarantee a strong family tree? Recognizing generations of family enterprise excellence around the world.

The recipients of the EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2017–18 are from many different sectors and, as you will read in their profiles, they are all innovators and, more often than not, market leaders.

With just 15% of all family-owned businesses surviving beyond the second generation, according to the Family Business Institute, our winners stand as a testament to the unique resilience, values, long-term vision and entrepreneurial spirit that characterize the world’s most successful family businesses.

View EY Family Business 2018 here.


How is external talent accelerating growth for family businesses? Find out why family businesses are growing faster than their non-family-owned peers.

These findings come from a new EY longitudinal global survey of middle-market companies that as a whole represent 99% of all enterprises and contribute almost half of global GDP. The EY Growth Barometer explores middle-market leaders' growth ambitions, strategies and challenges, as well as their attitudes toward global risks and uncertainties. What is it about family-owned companies that enables them to grow faster than their middle-market peers? Are there lessons for all corporate leaders whatever the size and ownership structure of their enterprise? "A focus on long-term strategy, the agility to invest in innovation and a solid and stable capital base have always been hallmarks of family businesses, wherever they operate," says Marnix van Rij, EY's Global Leader for Family Business. "Family businesses show they can still financially outperform middle-market businesses that don't have a family ownership structure."

View all findings here or download the PDF report.


2017 Global Family Business Tax Monitor
Preserve your legacy: a global study on inheritance tax for family business

Do you know what taxes will apply when you pass your family business on to the next generation? It may seem obvious, but if a family business doesn't transition successfully to the next generation, it ceases to be a family business. A vital component of succession planning is inheritance tax planning, because the differences in inheritance tax rates between jurisdictions can have a very negative impact on the proportion of assets that a family business can pass on to the next generation. We teamed up with the University of St.Gallen to compare 69 different countries’ inheritance rules with regard to family business succession to identify the economies that offer the best conditions for family business transfer. Read more here or contact us for more information:



Global Family Business Index

This is a list of the largest 500 family firms around the globe. It provides impressive evidence of the economic power and relevance of family firms in the world.

Read more here or contact us for more information:


Family business philanthropy: creating lasting impact through values and legacy

Family business philanthropy is a vital contributor to education, health and humanitarian aid globally. In the US, corporations and foundations, many of which are family-owned, donate over US$67b per year. In the UK, the top 100 family businesses and foundations contribute £908m per year to societal causes and, in Germany, family foundations donate around €490m every year to philanthropic projects1. But what drives families to engage in philanthropy? What form of philanthropy do they pursue? How is family business philanthropy managed and evaluated? And do government incentives have a part to play?

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Worldwide Estate and Inheritance Tax Guide 2017

The 2017 edition summarizes the gift, estate and inheritance tax systems and describes wealth transfer planning considerations in 38 jurisdictions and territories. It is relevant to the owners of family businesses and private companies, managers of private capital enterprises, executives of multinational companies (MNCs) and other entrepreneurial and internationally mobile high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

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EY Family Office Guide: Pathway to successful family and wealth management

This revised edition of the guide, which was first published in 2013, is certainly one of the most comprehensive and in-depth ever published. It is designed as a learning tool to provide guidance to families considering setting up a family office. They include business families who wish to separate their family wealth and assets from the operating business, and successful entrepreneurs looking to structure the liquidity gained from a highly profitable sale in order to further grow and preserve their wealth. It is also a useful guide of the current leading practices for those who already have a family office.

When compiling this report, EY worked extensively with Credit Suisse, the University of St. Gallen and family offices themselves, a few of which have provided illuminating case studies throughout the report.

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Coming home or breaking free? A closer look at the succession intentions of next-generation family business members

Family business owners have a strong desire to keep their company under family control across generations. But who is best suited to take over, and which factors encourage succession within the next generation?

In our previous study, Coming home or breaking free? Career choice intentions of the next generation in family businesses (2011), we explored what motivates students to pursue a career in the family business. In this study, we continue that exploration of succession intentions but with an even broader international scope.

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Staying power: how do family businesses create lasting success?

The importance of family businesses to the global economy is undeniable. They account for more than two-thirds of all companies around the world and 50%–80% of employment in most countries.

With that kind of global impact, it’s vitally important to understand what makes successful family businesses tick. We partnered with the Kennesaw State University Cox Family Enterprise Center and surveyed the largest family businesses in each of the top 21 global markets to find out how they manage the important issues.

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Women in leadership: The family business advantage

The largest, longest-lasting family businesses in the world are moving women further and doing so faster than their non-family counterparts. Why is this important? Because these businesses are the anchors of the world economy.

Family businesses as a whole create an estimated 70%–90% of the global GDP and 50%–80% of jobs in the majority of countries worldwide. They employ vast numbers of people, dominate key markets and are intrinsically important to their local communities and global economies — and have been for generations.

We teamed up with Kennesaw State University teamed to survey 525 of the largest and oldest family companies in the world. These businesses average US$3.48b in sales and 12,000 employees, in an average of 15 countries and five industries. Family businesses are designed to outpace the competition over the long haul. And all businesses would be well-served to follow their example, especially when it comes to how they value women leaders. Read this report to find out how.

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Preparing or procrastinating? How the world’s largest family businesses undertake successful successions.

Succession is a hot topic for family business leaders. Around the time of leadership succession, emotions often flare, relationships in family and work undergo stressful changes, and the success – or failure – of an effective transition can impact the family and the business for years.

With this report, we consider what some of the largest, longest-lasting family businesses in the world do to produce successful successions generation after generation.

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How do investors find value amid the crowd of private companies?

We live in an era of disruptive innovation and this disruption is both a threat to existing business models, products and services and an opportunity for economic growth. Funding the front edge of innovation and helping the next wave of leading companies grow and scale is a vital component to that growth, but what are today’s investors looking for? How do they evaluate opportunities? How can private companies maximize their attractiveness to the investment community?

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