People like to complain about their families. But when it comes to making money, it’s the family-owned businesses that seem to be doing it best.
That’s the conclusion from a report issued this week by Credit Suisse. The report, surveying the principal members of 900 family-owned firms found that these firms made more money, generated more cash and generally performed better in the financial markets than their non-family-owned counterparts.
“Over time, family-owned companies very structurally outperform in every region, every sector, and for small and larger companies,” Eugene Klerk, head analyst of thematic investments at Credit Suisse, told CNBC.
Credit Suisse’s portfolio of family-owned companies have outperformed most other equity markets by an annual average of around 400 basis points per year, the report found.
What is considered a family-owned business? That’s any company where a founder or their descendants owns 20 percent of the company’s equity. But it’s not just stock ownership. Credit Suisse’s definition also includes those companies where families control more than 20 percent of the firm’s voting rights, regardless of ownership. Why? Because family control through “day-to-day” management or board membership tends to be more important to the company’s performance rather than the amount of stock held by family members, the report found.
Don’t be misled. Many of us automatically think that family owned firms are mostly small businesses — and they are. But there are many larger, more well-known companies that also fall under this definition such as Alphabet (the owner of Google), Facebook and Alibaba.
Regardless of size, why are family-owned firms so much more successful?
Most of them, according to Credit Suisse analysts, are in it for the long term and aren’t afraid to forego quarterly earnings targets to fund research and development for the future. More than 60 percent of firms separately surveyed by Credit Suisse tied executives’ compensation to the organizations’ multiyear revenue streams and earnings growth. In addition, firms in this category tend to self-fund rather than borrowing which strengthens their equity positions.
So sure, working with family can be trying at times. But you can’t argue with the results.