Back to How We Help Clients

Family business

We help family businesses build on their unique characteristics to thrive and transition smoothly through generations.

Our teams combine a nuanced understanding of the institutional and strategic issues faced by family businesses with McKinsey’s industry and functional expertise. Over the past 5 years alone, we have served more than 140 families globally. We draw on proprietary diagnostic tools and an extensive database of proven best practices, and we offer clients access to a unique network of families to share experiences.

  • Family governance. We help clients create governance systems to maintain unity and a sense of purpose, to transition between generations and to avoid conflicts over values, behaviors, financial issues, and personal relationships. Recent examples of our work include helping a European family transfer its organization to the next generation and designing a new family office and governance structure in the process; defining a family charter and governance structure for a family in the Middle East; and creating extensive next-generation-development programs in different parts of the world.
  • Ownership. We optimize shareholding structures to create the desired blend of influence, voting power, and liquidity. We also help evaluate the attractiveness of accessing capital markets. Examples of our work include helping a South American family transfer ownership to the next generation and prepare a succession plan for the future—including shareholder agreements—and developing a shareholder agreement and governance model for a Brazilian conglomerate.
  • Business portfolio and governance. We help design board structures and align owners, board relationships, and company management to protect and grow the business. We structure business and financial portfolios to achieve the aspirations of the controlling shareholders, that is, to grow and protect wealth over the long term. Examples include helping an Eastern European group, with total assets of more than $10 billion, develop a portfolio strategy and ownership model to encourage more active ownership; and assessing value-creation opportunities for a European family—including operational performance improvements and potential M&A—across a portfolio of businesses.
  • Wealth management. We help families manage net wealth outside their company’s core businesses (for example, private equity and legacy assets) to ensure asset preservation, risk diversification, and the fulfillment of liquidity needs. We conducted an assessment of a European family’s equity portfolio, worth $6 billion to $7 billion, analyzing the impact of introducing real assets and other diversification measures and developing formal investment policies and guidelines. We worked with a Saudi family, with assets of $4 billion to $5 billion, to assess investment management capabilities and performance, design new investment processes and procedures, and develop a joint venture with a bank for new investments.
  • Foundations. We work with clients to allocate resources into philanthropy, ensuring that their efforts are aligned with the family’s mission and values and assets are employed according to global best practices. Recent examples of our work include designing processes to focus portfolio decisions and increase transparency within a Swiss foundation, and helping create a foundation focused on ethics in globalization by creating a strategy and business model and by identifying and introducing potential partners.

Featured Insights


Gaining strength through philanthropy: How emerging-market families can make a difference

– In this article, we discuss trends in philanthropy in emerging markets and offer five strategic questions for families looking... to improve their chances of making a difference.

Perspectives on founder- and family-owned businesses

– This compendium presents research on the successes and challenges of succession of family firms.