Survey reveals new insights into Ireland’s family business sector

  • Written By: Marc Lowry
  • Published: Fri, 13 Nov 2020 16:00 GMT

Close to six in ten family businesses likely to create jobs with support from political & economic environment. 
Regressive taxation the greatest obstacle to family firms fuelling a jobs-led recovery.

FBN Sentiment Survey WEB 1920X1080

Almost six in ten family businesses are likely to create new jobs in the next year if there is a supportive political and economic environment, according to the first ever National Family Business Sentiment Survey released today.

The Family Business Network and Smith & Williamson have today published the findings of the first ever National Family Business Sentiment Survey, which reveals the unique challenges facing family-owned enterprises and how they can fuel a jobs-led recovery.

The research, which involved online surveys and telephone interviews with family-owned businesses all over Ireland, provides new insights into the resilience and adaptability of the family business sector, which employs almost one million people across the country.

Despite 49% of family businesses feeling less confident about the current economic climate, the National Family Business Sentiment Survey shows that 58% of family businesses are likely to create new jobs within the next twelve months. But this growth is contingent on a supportive political and economic environment which backs family businesses to overcome the current challenges they face.

Ireland’s taxation system was ranked as the number one concern of family businesses, with respondents calling for a more progressive tax regime that considers the longstanding economic contribution of the family business sector. Nearly two-thirds of family businesses (63%) remain very concerned about Brexit on logistics and supply chains, while the cost of business insurance ranked the third greatest concern.

The survey also found that family-owned firms are concerned about safeguarding their family values and their employment legacy within their local community. 82% of respondents have stated that support for next generation family members is important to them. Nearly half (48%) of the businesses surveyed are seeking to prioritise professional training and mentorship, with many worried that the tax system for transferring family businesses from one generation to the next is a significant obstacle.

John McGrane, Executive Director, Family Business Network said: “The inaugural Family Business Sentiment Survey shines an important light on the current issues facing Ireland’s family businesses. Contributing 80% of Ireland’s economic value, indigenous Irish businesses are not only at the heart of today’s economy, but they will also drive Ireland’s economic recovery if the appropriate support is provided by Government.

“The formulation of the National Economic Plan over the coming weeks offers a unique opportunity to centre Ireland’s recovery around the growth and development of indigenous Irish businesses. That vision can be achieved through a supportive taxation system and the establishment of a National Recovery Forum which would provide a space for family businesses, other employers, employees and Government to collectively agree how we shape Ireland’s future economy.”

Con Casey, Director and Family Business Lead, Smith & Williamson said: “We’re delighted to partner with the Family Business Network to launch the first annual survey into the challenges and opportunities facing business-owning families, which make up 64% of all firms in Ireland. The survey showcases the resilience and adaptability of Irish family businesses thriving through the generations.

“Many family businesses, however, feel their contribution is overlooked by the Government. Changes to Capital Acquisitions Tax and Capital Gains Tax as well as the reform of the insurance sector can help to ensure the survival and success of family firms as they navigate Brexit and COVID-19. As a trusted advisor and provider of professional services to families and their business interests for six decades, Smith & Williamson believes the National Family Business Sentiment Survey will highlight the economic contribution made by family-run companies and help policy makers understand the challenges they face.”

To read the National Family Business Sentiment Survey, click here.

For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Emma Jane Hade
M: +353 85 160 2832


We have taken great care to ensure the accuracy of this publication. However, the publication is written in general terms and you are strongly recommended to seek specific advice before taking any action on the information it contains.
Smith & Williamson Freaney Limited Authorised to carry on investment business by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. A member of Nexia International.

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