Nearly two thirds of family businesses feel customers value the way in which they are run, according to Moore Thompson

One of the East of England’s leading firms of accountants, Moore Thompson, has found that the region’s family-run companies value their business model.

The firm’s research, conducted at the end of last year, looked into the health and plans of a number of family businesses and has found some interesting results.

Of those asked, 36 per cent intended to pass or sell on the business to their children, while 31 per cent were more inclined to sell it to a third party.

When asked what was more likely to cause an issue within their company family or typical business issues, more than half (58 per cent) said it would be family.

However, when asked what family issues they were currently experiencing 73 per cent said they either didn’t have any issues or weren’t sure if current issues were family related.

Of those who did identify family issues, nine per cent said sibling rivalry was a problem, while nine per cent said that differing opinions on business direction were of concern. A further nine per cent said that family members either didn’t want to or were unable to take over the business.

Moore Thompson’s Managing Partner, Mark Hildred said: “It seems clear to us, having spoken and worked with family businesses, that in some areas they do have some distinct advantages, but unlike other firms there are some additional issues to take into consideration and many could benefit from additional advice based upon our experience.”

All of the business owners surveyed had an idea of what they wanted to happen to the business in future, whether it was selling it on or passing it on to a family member, yet only 42 per cent had a formal succession plan in place.

“Our research clearly highlights that many family-run firms aren’t properly prepared for succession or have a suitable exit strategy in place,” said Mark.

“All companies, whether family-run or not, should factor this into their long-term business plan, as the model and method selected could significantly affect a number of factors such as continuity of trading and tax liabilities from a sale or sudden departure.”

When looking at the strengths of their business, 58 per cent agreed that being in a family business made them stronger than those not in a family business.

Despite this, 54 per cent did feel that running a family business is more difficult than running a ‘normal’ business.

The main benefit though was that 64 per cent felt that their company benefited from the reputation of being family-run amongst its customers and suppliers.

“Our latest family survey was very enlightening and it has indicated that while running a family business was not without its occasional issues, there is a lot of benefits from having such a close-knit company,” added Mark.