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    Asian Family Businesses are Yet to Embrace Deep Transformation to Turn Disruption into Opportunity: Lombard Odier

    Asian Family Businesses are Yet to Embrace Deep Transformation to Turn Disruption into Opportunity: Lombard Odier
    • Study finds that most Asian family businesses from China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand are aware of technological forces disrupting their businesses, but only less than half have devised and executed a response strategy
    • Family businesses should better harness generational diversity, overcome entrenchment and engage external sources of talent and capital to sustain growth between generations

    94.1% of family businesses in Asia have experienced or foresee impact from at least one technological disruption, but less than half are prepared to go beyond the awareness stage to actively integrating disruptive technologies into their business models, according to a study commissioned by Lombard Odier, a global wealth and asset manager.

    The report, titled “Where Technological Disruptors Meet Asian Family Businesses: Rethinking Next-Generation Leadership and Career”, is authored by Professor Roger King and Jeremy Cheng of the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and based on the results of an extensive survey conducted by Lombard Odier and HKUST of 119 next generation members of family businesses in South East Asia and North Asia.

    The top five disruptors to Asian family businesses include big data (60.5%), artificial intelligence or AI (52.1%), Internet of Things or IoT (48.7%), renewable energy (42.0%), and robotics (40.3%).

    Awareness but limited action

    While over 60% of respondents have taken steps to identify and understand the nature of disruptive technologies, only one-third have developed a clear perspective on the future direction for their own industry, market, and business amid technological disruptions. 12% did not take any action at all when facing technological disruptions, while only less than 30% managed to embrace deep transformation by integrating disruptive technologies into their existing business models.

    On average, it took approximately 28 months for Asian family businesses to identify and execute a response to a disruptive technology.

    Barriers to countering disruption

    Major barriers to Asian family businesses overcoming disruption include rigid mental models, emotional ties to loyal staff and existing assets, formalization, and political resistance. Asian family businesses also show low dependence on resources from external capital providers, indicating their concern about control dilution.

    Families should rethink their control mentality.  Those choosing to delicately balance control and resources may stand a better chance of exploiting opportunities presented by technological disruption.

    Professor Roger King, from the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies at HKUST, said “Today’s owners of Asian family businesses need to open up, embrace technological disruptions and rethink their businesses.

    Many Asian family businesses are still in the awareness stage and remain far from formulating competitive strategies to exploit opportunities fuelled by technological disruption. External advisors and investment can be valuable in this process, yet our findings showed that only one quarter of family businesses in Asia had engaged outside expertise to manage technological disruptions. Such entrenchment could be an expensive lesson to a family business facing abrupt environmental changes.”

    Other regions less impacted than Asia

    Over 94% of the respondents in Asia said that their family businesses would be affected by at least one disruptive technology. This is in strong contrast to a separate 2017 survey[1], where over half of family businesses in Europe, Middle East, and Africa indicated that they did not experience any market disruptions.  While technological disruption is not a unique phenomenon in Asia, it appears that Asian family businesses are facing a keen drive in transforming themselves facing waves of technological disruptions.

    “Family businesses must strive to maintain flexibility and agility to be able to respond to disruptions in a timely manner. This can be a challenge when a family business grows in size and is passed down across generations,” said Vincent Magnenat, Limited Partner, and CEO Asia Pacific at Lombard Odier.

    Embracing generational differences - “It’s not a life sentence”

    The study found that Generation X took longer to recognise disruptive technologies than Generation Y. Families should actively consider strategies that capitalise of Generation Y’s digital diversities and absorb home-grown digital natives in their response to technological disruption.

    However, families should be mindful of other potential generational differences. Generation Y/Z counterparts are far more motivated by the concept of “being my own boss” than their Generation X counterparts. 34% of the next generation wanted to lead or work in their family businesses whilst creating their own ventures.

    Encouraging next generation members of the family business to create their own ventures that leverage disruptive technologies can lead to new revenue streams for the family. Alternatively, even exiting the business to refocus on different areas is a valid and valuable option, if well planned, to counter disruptive forces.

    Mr Magnenat added, “The study has highlighted Generation Y’s ability to add value by identifying disruptive technologies quicker than prior generations, but an increasing number want to create their own ventures. Families should look to embrace the next generation’s digital savviness within the family business, or alternatively grab opportunities to turn next generation start-ups or spinoffs into a disruptor.”

    The study draws upon the real-life experiences of Richie Eu (a fifth-generation member of a 140-year-old Traditional Chinese Medicine family business, Eu Yan Sang), Juthasree “June” Kuvinichkul (the third generation of a commodity-based Thai Chinese family business, Metta Group, and Co-founder of Grab Taxi Thailand) and Terukazu Mishiba (a second-generation member of a leading IT information security provider, LAC Co, and owner of a high-quality Japanese teahouse, Chasanraku Tea Room).

    In Asia, Lombard Odier provides wealth management solutions, including DPM and family services, to entrepreneurs and family businesses from its three offices in Asia, as well as to the clients of its banking partners around the region.

    1 Deloitte (May 2017). Next generation family businesses: Leading a family business in a disruptive environment

    Important information

    This media release has been prepared by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd, a bank and securities dealer authorised and regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) (hereinafter "Lombard Odier"). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This media release is provided for information purposes only. It does not constitute an offer or a recommendation to enter into a relationship with Lombard Odier, nor to subscribe to, purchase, sell or hold any security or financial instrument.
    This document may not be reproduced (in whole or in part), transmitted, modified, or used for any public or commercial purpose without the prior written permission of Lombard Odier.
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