According to PwC, Singapore family businesses are “confident about turning the corner" in the next two years, with 64% expecting growth this year and 90% expecting growth for 2022.

The findings are a result of PwC’s Global Family Business Survey 2021. The Singapore report is based on 80 interviews with family business leaders and decision-makers between Oct 5 and Dec 11, 2020. 

Overall, Ng Siew Quan, Asia Pacific leader, entrepreneurial and private business at PwC Singapore, says that the survey results this year are not significantly different from past years, which may indicate that family businesses have not shifted their thinking drastically despite the circumstances caused by the pandemic.

According to the report, the top priorities for Singapore family businesses over the next two years include diversification into new markets or segments (73%), rethinking or adapting the business model (56%), and improving digital capabilities (54%).

However, only 29% say their digital capabilities are strong, which is slightly lower compared to Asia Pacific (33%) and globally (38%).

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Ng says that the lag in digital transformation for family businesses in Singapore may include high costs of implementation, inadequate internal digital infrastructure and the skills shortage. He proposes tapping on the next generation’s fresh perspectives to develop a sustainable digital transformation strategy.

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Supporting this is the survey’s findings that showed 41% of businesses that describe themselves as digitally strong are third or fourth generation, and while Next Gens have taken an increased role in 46% of digitally strong businesses.

On the other end of the spectrum, sustainability ranked lowest on the list of priorities for Singapore family businesses, with only a third of surveyed businesses indicating they have developed or communicated a sustainability strategy.

PwC noted that this is indicative of family businesses still catching up with establishing their sustainability agenda in the midst of protecting their core business during this disruption.

The survey also found that Singapore family businesses feel that levels of trust, transparency, and communication are quite high.

60% of businesses surveyed agreed that family members regularly communicate about business, while 59% have a clear sense of agreed values and purpose as a company and 57% a governance policy in place.

However, the figures fall when it comes to other key areas; less than half (at 40%) have their values and company mission articulated in written form, and only around a quarter (26%) have documented a succession plan.