Almost half of UHNW families do not have a structured process for identifying risk, says Stonehage Fleming survey

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Forty per cent ultra high net worth (UHNW) families do not have a process for identifying, quantifying and mitigating the many and varied risks a family may face, according to a new survey by famly office Stonehage Fleming.

In addition, the survey showed that family disputes are still considered to be the greatest risk to long term family wealth (34 per cent), followed by lack of future family leadership and direction (32 per cent).

Research for the survey, ‘Four Pillars of Capital: a time for reflection”, which was conducted over the course of the UK lockdown, assessed the impact of Covid-19 across several areas that determine the long-term sustainability of family wealth. Stonehage Fleming surveyed respondents on themes including the purpose of wealth, the identification and management of risk, succession planning and the next generation, investment attitudes and philanthropy. A total of 183 multigenerational members of different families and advisers took part.
 
Chris Merry, Chief Executive Officer at Stonehage Fleming, says: “We have seen some subtle shifts in the philosophies and practices of the families we support as they reflect on the impact of Covid-19 on their communities and the wider society. This global health crisis has reinforced the need to formalise risk management processes, pay careful attention to leadership matters, and educate and engage the next generation. These actions will all help guide families through future challenges.”
 
Matthew Fleming, Partner, Head of Family Governance & Succession, at Stonehage Fleming, says: “Our survey found that over a third of our participants think that there will be a permanent shift in the key priorities of their families as a direct consequence of the pandemic. Such shifts can also lead to beneficial discussions on the overall purpose of the family wealth, and we are pleased to see more families considering putting this into place.”
 
Almost a quarter of respondents identified failure to engage the next generation as a key risk. Twenty five per cent stated that there had been changes to roles and responsibilities within the family, with the majority (71 per cent) of this group stating the members of the next generation were playing a more prominent role.
 
Fleming adds: “The survey has again emphasised the importance of family leadership and provided overwhelming evidence of how important a role the next generation have played in this during the crisis.”

As a result of Covid-19, just under a third of respondents are actively contributing more to the community and wider society, with 57 per cent having supported projects or causes related to helping combat the pandemic or supporting those most affected by it.
 
Despite the increased focus on how families and businesses are contributing to their communities and society, 79 per cent of respondents still prefer to remain discreet.
 
Guy Hudson, Partner and Head of Marketing at Stonehage Fleming, says: “Families have increased their philanthropic commitments as a result of the crisis, with many supporting causes directly addressing the effects of the pandemic. Their preference for discretion does mean that the extent of their societal contribution is however not always recognised.”