Family Business Practices in Brazil (Part 1)

by Stephanie Brun de Pontet &
John L. Ward

We had the special pleasure of conducting a two-day workshop for HSM for 250 people from more than 100 significant Brazilian family firms. In this and subsequent web posts, we share the results of a survey of the participants. What has been their experience?

In terms of ‘who’ was in our audience answering these questions: 36% are in the founding generation, 37% in the second generation, 16% in the third generation, and 11% in the fourth or later generations.  As the generation of the family will have a bearing on many of these questions, we have broken up the answers by these demographic groups as appropriate.


  • “Letting Go” of control by the senor generation was seen by all generations as the most significant challenge to successful continuity – non-family advisors and directors felt so, even more strongly.
  • Siblings in business together thought that differences in managerial style between them was their next greatest challenge (40%), followed by sibling rivalry (25%).
  • “Co-CEOs” have been part of 21% of all family firms, with 33% finding that a good practice.


  • Just as with our global research, half of families who have initiated a Family Constitution are pleased with results and half are not! Pleasantly surprising, 57% have tried.
  • Also quite similar to our global research, about 1/3 of all family firms have three or more Independent outside directors. 63% of those with outside directors find them extremely valuable.


  • About half feel it is likely that they will consider a private equity investor for their family company.
  • 51% say an IPO is not imaginable.
  • 24% already have experienced a ‘family shareholder’ redemption; yet, unfortunately, 45% have no policy to guide such an almost inevitable event.

What was our most surprising finding? Fully 65% of all participants have official family meetings, and most include some family business education as part of their meetings.

With thanks to HSM for encouraging the survey and for their dedication to family business education.


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