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Barclays Research Shows Dynamics Set to Change as HNW Women Get More Involved in the Family Business

A new research series from Barclays Private Bank shows that the next generation of high net worth (HNW) women are set to change family and banking dynamics as their share of global wealth steadily increases, they attain higher levels of education and they become more involved in family businesses.

Barclays Private Bank’s Smarter Succession: The Challenges and Opportunities of Intergenerational Wealth Transfer research, undertaken by global intelligence business Savanta, identified that four in five (82%) women from wealthy families expect to inherit substantial wealth over the next 20 years, making them significant beneficiaries of the $5 trillion estimated to transfer to the next generation by 2030.

Despite this growing share of wealth among women, two in five (41%) HNW women are currently not involved in family financial decision making. Social and cultural change is prompting a shift in these family and banking dynamics, with women now holding similar levels of direct ownership in the family businesses to men (54% compared to 57%), and more HNW women achieving postgraduate qualifications (43%) compared to their parents (14%).

The research is based upon a survey of over 400 global HNW family members with at least £5 million in assets, in-depth interviews with 20 HNW families and their bankers and intermediaries and supported by independent expert behavioural analysis.

Rasha Badawi, Director at Barclays Wealth and Investment Management, Middle East said: “As traditional family roles change and more women hold prominent positions in international business, their growing global influence is going to be a major economic force over the next decade, redefining areas that have historically been focused on, and dominated by, men.

“We focus on engaging both women and men of the next generation in succession planning and wider wealth management, as part of setting up the long-term security of their family legacy. For us, it’s a priority to make sure that they have the knowledge, confidence and support to feel comfortable leading the next generation of family wealth and shaping it towards their individual ambitions.”

Involvement in family businesses but limited decision-making power

Barclays Private Bank’s Smarter Succession research series found that four in five (83%) main decision-makers around family wealth are men. These main decision-makers, whether they are men or women, are then twice as likely to turn to their sons (29%) rather than their daughters (14%) on matters of wealth, finance and investment.

Nine in ten (88%) wealthy women, however, are now involved in family businesses to some extent, with almost half (46%) on a day-to-day basis, compared to 96% and 60% of men respectively. That means that women are still three times more likely than men to not be involved (13% compared to 4%), with a transition to having more decision-making power remaining an area of expected growth in the coming years.

This shift is further encouraged by higher levels of education and qualifications achieved, often at international institutions. Women who are involved in the family business are more likely to have achieved postgraduate qualifications (59%) than those who are not involved (33%).

Understanding and support will grow confidence

As the share of wealth among women increases and family dynamics change, banking relationships are set to shift too. The research indicates that HNW women feel that the financial services sector has not yet adapted to their growing prominence, with almost three in five (56%) believing that their financial adviser treats them differently to men.

Specifically, HNW women are less likely than men to feel that their adviser understands their knowledge about investing (75% compared to 86%) and risk tolerance (72% compared to 82%). Against this backdrop, wealthy women are more than twice as likely to not have a financial adviser, with 22% saying that they currently do not, compared to just nine% of men.

In absence of this support, HNW women are often less confident about making family financial decisions, prompting the need for banking relationship dynamics to change. Three in five (61%) wealthy women are confident in making financial decisions for themselves, but among those not yet involved in family wealth management, confidence drops to 43%. In contrast, 78% of all men say that they feel confident in making financial decisions for their family.

Dr Ylva Baeckstrom, a behavioural finance and gender expert, said: “The financial world has historically been male-gendered. It was created by men, for men, to suit their purposes, in both subtle and fundamental ways. These established systems mean that women have been excluded from finance until relatively recently and are still treated differently. Many women haven’t gained the financial confidence and independence that is going to be crucial as many more come into wealth.

“The industry needs to overcome existing biases, work to deliver services and advice that are the equal of those presented to their male relatives and provide women with the base to support their role as global business leaders of the future.”


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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