Applying circular economy principles to family business and wealth stewardship

An increasing number of wealth- and business-owning families are embracing sustainability as a growing area of focus. But much of the dialogue on sustainability relates to areas external to the family and the governance of family and business interests. Climate change and other environmental issues, the need and benefit of considering the social and economic interests of all stakeholders in decision making come into conversations and actions around sustainability. But not enough thought is being given by families and their advisors to the sustainability of the family itself, both as a family, and in relation to the family’s wealth and business interests.
Applying circular economy principles to family business and wealth stewardship can provide a new approach to underpinning governance frameworks for wealth- and business-owning families. Circularity, in broad terms, means avoiding waste – not only of natural resources, but also of the human resources within families, including family members not directly involved in the family business, but who have a stake in the future and who need to support those in more active roles. Such family members highlight the kind of paradoxes families face – should a family member be channelled into working in the family business or allowed (and encouraged) to pursue their own careers, reflecting their personal interests and aspirations?
The answer may not be either/or – perhaps a both/and option can be a solution. Embracing the paradox allows families to become sensitive to opportunities and creative solutions where both options can be mutually reinforcing.


  • Bryony Cove TEP, Farrer & Co, UK


  • Prof. Kenneth Goh, Academic Director, Business Families Institute, Singapore Management University
  • Iraj Ispahani, Ispahani Advisory Ltd, UK
  • Philip Marcovici TEP, Offices of Philip Marcovici, Hong Kong

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