Cynergy Bank to launch & Daughters Fund for female family entrepreneurs ahead of International Women’s Day

Most parents swear they treat their children equally, but that doesn’t seem to apply to succession planning in family businesses.

According to a new analysis[1] by specialist lender Cynergy Bank, for every family firm that refers to its daughters in the company name there are 37 which acknowledge their sons.

The huge imbalance between ‘& Sons’ and ‘& Daughters’ may be historic but research shows that traditional attitudes are still common.

Even in these more enlightened times twice as many family business owners plan to pass their firms on to sons rather than daughters according to Cynergy Bank’s survey of 543 family business owners[2].

More than a third of business owners believe it is ‘only natural’ that family firms are handed over to sons and other male relatives, with only 24 per cent disagreeing strongly.

Remarkably more than one in four female family business owners agreed that it was natural for businesses to be passed on to male relatives.

Older business owners and those in traditionally male-dominated sectors like construction are more likely to say they favour male relatives in succession planning while younger business owners are more egalitarian.

Nick Fahy, chief executive of Cynergy Bank, said: “Historically family businesses have overlooked female leadership talent and handed their businesses down to sons and nephews. Unfortunately this is still the case today.”

Cynergy Bank, a specialist lender with a focus on scaleup businesses and family firms, is launching a campaign called & Daughters. “We’re raising awareness of the issue, but we also want to be part of the solution,” said Fahy. “That’s why we are launching a £75m fund today specifically for female-led family firms.”

The Cynergy Bank & Daughters Fund is designed to help female-led family firms make the investment they need to grow.

Amalia Brightley-Gillott, Managing Director of Family Business Place, a consultancy which supports leaders of family firms, said: “For many women, the window for taking over the reins of the family firm often coincides with the time when they want to start a family.

“Unfortunately, this can lead to them being overlooked. Instead of accommodating this within the succession plan, a brother or a male cousin is often primed for the role instead.

“More recently there has been a shift in the way we work and run businesses. Flexible hours, working on the go, working from home have all led to women being able to achieve their goals in business whilst also managing a family.

“The best business leaders know that, in order for the business to continue and succeed, everyone should have an equal opportunity based on merit, not gender. I would urge all family business leaders who are thinking about succession planning to focus on the best person for the job.”

[1] Source: Companies House

[2] Research conducted by Opinium Research for Cynergy Bank among 1008 SMEs. June/July 2019. A family business is defined as an SME which is run by two or more members of the same family or was started by relatives of the current owner. Research conducted among 1008 SMEs, of which 412 are run by two or more members of the same family and a further 131 involve other family members in non-management roles.

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