Succession planning is a growing industry. The post-war economy, particularly in Europe and Asia, enabled many families to accumulate considerable wealth. Industry consultancy Wealth-X has estimated that in the decade to 2026, more than 14,000 ultra-high net worth individuals - generally defined as having a net worth of €30 million or more - are likely to transfer their assets to the next generation. We are in the midst of the greatest transfer of wealth the world has ever seen.
For many of these individuals, their wealth has come from owning a business, which they may have built up from scratch and to which they have dedicated a lifetime’s work. But, eventually, the time comes for all business owners when they must consider who will take over after they retire.
The question, then, is how to manage a seamless transition of the company’s control and ownership to the next generation, along with the distribution of other assets to younger family members
A successful transition can take many forms, but depends on a number of factors. What's essential is a forward-thinking head of the family who, ahead of time, can map out the company’s future beyond the point of their retirement. Many business leaders hope their children will follow in their footsteps and take over the business, but the designated successor has to be capable, as well as willing to take over.
Added to the mix is the need to manage family relationships. Not all family members will want to be involved in the family business, but they will nevertheless expect equal treatment. This requires careful planning and negotiation, part of a delicate political process that could easily result in damage to family relationships, and potentially even the prospects of the business itself if not handled appropriately.
To achieve a smooth succession for both business and other assets, various estate planning tools can be combined within a structured plan. The taxable estate can be reduced if all or part of the business is handed over to the heirs early. There are ways to sell a business to children even if they do not have enough assets of their own to buy them.
The benefits of life insurance
Life insurance can offer a wide range of benefits in the wealth transfer process. For example, a product with a high level of death cover can address wealth transfer and estate equalisation issues through the provision of liquidity. Unit-linked life products offer an alternative means to conduct transfers to heirs who do not want to be involved in a family business.
Such products are designed to integrate an investment portfolio with structured life insurance for asset protection, estate, tax and succession planning, and adapted to different international markets and the evolution of rules and legislation. Innovative life insurance solutions therefore provides a flexible solution that can be shaped to clients’ changing requirements and goals, wherever they choose to live.
However, for many families the most important feature of life insurance solutions is that they can be used to ensure that assets are passed on to the next generation in line with the policyholder’s wishes - ensuring that the family’s future is protected, but also that its members can lead their lives in a self-determined manner.
Swiss Life Generations - Our new solution
Find out more about our innovative solution for a secure and solid wealth transfer.