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Irish family businesses lag behind competitors in global poll

Irish family businesses need to adapt faster and become more professional, according to a new report from PwC.

PwC’s ‘Irish Family Business Survey’ for 2014 also shows that compared to other Irish business sectors, family businesses here see themselves as less entrepreneurial than their international counterparts.

PwC’s Irish Family Business Leader Paul Hennessy said that family businesses have changed their mindset since the survey was last carried out in 2012.

The need to professionalise barely registered two years ago, but now almost a third of respondents see it as important .

“Incumbents were not assuming that the succession of the business would be the next generation, largely because I think they’d been through a very difficult time and didn’t really know whether they wanted to impose that on another generation,” Mr Hennessy said.

“If we look at what’s coming out now, there is this general sense that the family business sector is saying we need to professionalise, and they’re saying that globally as well.

“Irish family businesses need to upgrade the processes, governance and skills within their businesses, and their own families, to stay ahead of competitors and remain relevant as the economy returns to growth.”

The survey also shows that family businesses continue to lag behind their international counterparts for embracing digital avenues for growth.

They are less likely on average to adapt the way they operate to exploit digital opportunities, and less than a third said that attracting talent that can undertake the conversion to digital is top of their agenda (compared to 43pc worldwide).

“Seizing the digital opportunities will be critical to stay ahead of the competition,” said PwC private businesss services partner John Dunne.

“The survey suggests that Irish family businesses have some way to go compared to their global counterparts in understanding the full benefits of digital and adapting their organisations to the world of digital,” Mr Dunne added.

He said Irish family businesses are now much more focused on profitability and success, and are recognising that a key challenge is their ability to continually innovate.

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