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Responsible Family Business & Wealth Ownership


Family business and wealth ownership is expanding, and demand for learning and support in this area in an increasingly complex world is well established. This programme aims to improve not only the well-being, financial and business interests of the families involved, but of the societies and communities in which we all live and operate.

For 2019, the theme of the Programme will be the 'Circular Economy and the Family'. Led by Professor Khal Soufani, the Academic Programme Director and the Director of the Cambridge Judge Circular Economy Centre, the faculty for the 2019 programme are gearing up for what will be an innovative and valuable approach to examining issues relevant to global family business and wealth owners. This year the programme will seek to identify opportunities and benefits of a circular approach in a much wider context than is normally considered.

Soon family businesses will have up to four generations managing their organisations. Key issues around strategy and direction will come from different perspectives and from generations with varied priorities – the circular economy brings those perspectives together in a holistic and beneficial way for the business and society as a whole. Family businesses are in a unique position in terms of leveraging this benefit with a medium-to-long term view.

Watch our series of short videos below to find out more about what to expect and how this programme is unique.

The Cambridge advantage

The approach of the Responsible Family Business & Wealth Ownership (RFBWO) programme is a curriculum focused on areas in which the resources of the University of Cambridge are employed to achieve outstanding leadership in the area of family business and wealth ownership. Through research and the building of a global community, we believe we can address some of the most important issues facing our societies today and in the years to come.

One of the primary objectives of the programme is to establish a global forum that will offer participants a learning experience that reflects the quality and reputation of the University of Cambridge, and which showcases our expertise as a centre of competence and leadership on issues in and around family-owned businesses and wealth. Using our research-led faculty and a community of global business and wealth owners, governments, advisors and other thought-leaders, we will provide a voice in relation to the role of family businesses and wealth owners in facing the challenges of today and tomorrow. This programme will commit to action and focus on academic research and topics that are entirely relevant to family businesses, wealth owners and our communities.

The programme will address issues relating to how to:

  • expose the thorny issues facing family business entrepreneurs
  • manage passive asset ownership effectively
  • plan for growth balancing family culture, tradition and business strategies
  • govern interwoven and conflicting matters shaping the development of the family business and the business family
  • craft a trans-generational succession and engagement plan that ensures family business continuity
  • master entrepreneurial, managerial, leadership, ownership, wealth management, financial and risk management matters

The focus on the RFBWO programme is on leadership and research and ensuring deep engagement of those who join the programme, thanks to exchange and debate within the classroom. Our objective is to improve not only the well-being and financial and business interests of the families involved, but of the societies and communities we all live and operate within.

The programme has been developed with Iraj Ispahani of Ispahani Advisory and Philip Marcovici of the Offices of Philip Marcovici.

Core topics

The programme will include the following core topics:

  • Family Businesses and the Circular Economy
  • Understanding Conflicts of Interest and Political Change
  • Supporting our Communities and Why this Matters
  • Developing a Strategic Growth Mindset
  • Navigating the New Innovation Landscape
  • Organisational Behaviour and the Family Business
  • Family Governance – Family Constitutions and More
  • Leadership in Families and Family Businesses
  • Building Effective Teams
  • International Taxation and the Needs of Wealth and Business Owners in the Coming Decades: Political Risk Minimisation Planning, Asset Protection and the Real Challenges Coming Up
  • Alternative Finance
  • The Structures Families Use – Trusts, Partnerships, Foundations and the Other "Animals in the Zoo"
  • Reconciling the Past and Future of Your Family Business

The circular economics overlay to the topics to be covered in 2019 will provide participants with a unique opportunity to explore what is meaningful for families, family business and family wealth, and how doing things in new ways may bring new opportunities for growth, sustainability, excitement, engagement and longevity.

Interest streams

Participants will have the opportunity to select and follow several supplementary 'interest streams' of their choice. Based on the theme of the 'Circular Economy and the Family', these include:

  • Learning from others: methodologies of successful businesses
  • Understanding conflicts of interests and political change: protecting family interests through a different way of engaging with advisors and with governments
  • Community focus: why supporting our communities works for families and family businesses

Post-programme options

The optional elements, which can be offered post programme include the following:

  • Organisation and running of individual family "retreats" covering a variety of objectives including the development of a family constitution or charter. Individual family retreats, an area in which Founding Advisors Iraj Ispahani and Philip Marcovici are active, may also form part of the linked optional offering, with families having the ability to benefit from private workshops and analysis allowing them to ask the important "what-ifs?" and undertake a "health check" of their existing succession and asset protection plans. Family constitutions and other tailored outcomes may be objectives, and members of the Cambridge faculty participating in the programme (or other external teachers) may be involved.
  • Business strategy training focusing on the family business, family office or other enterprise maintained by the family. Learning from their peers as well as from the faculty of the University of Cambridge, programme participation can be followed by a tailored and individual programme for the family business involved, with key executives (who may not be family members) then joining the graduates of the programme for a tailored programme of executive education that is private to the particular business involved, and which helps build trust between family and non-family business leaders, focusing on strategy for the particular business involved.
  • Opportunities for family members to undertake training specifically around supporting transitional events together with professional staff independent of the family, provides a powerful means of providing a bridge between advisors and family owners by ensuring smooth generational succession and a well-prepared and confident younger generation, as well as a motivated professional management team and or advisory network.
  • Philanthropy - sharing perspectives on philanthropy and giving, including ideas for the next generation on how to engage. How to create good governance and reporting frameworks and measure sustainable impact.
  • IT systems, technology and innovation.
  • Communication and intergenerational understanding - how to create and encourage open and effective communication across all generations. 


  • Learn from faculty from a broad range of University of Cambridge departments including law, business, economics, psychology and public policy.
  • Gain insights from prominent family business owners and renowned industry experts.
  • Receive individual mentoring for each participant; an academic mentor who will be in touch with the participant in advance of the programme, during the programme, and in relation to follow-up possibilities.
  • Receive an invitation to an annual alumni event that will bring together those who have attended earlier programmes, with the annual event having research of a key issue relevant to global family business and wealth owners at its heart.
  • Successful participants of the programme will be awarded a Certificate of Attendance from Cambridge Judge Business School Executive Education. 

Who should attend

The programme will be restricted to family members, affording a safe environment for sharing and learning from peers.

We would welcome the following groups to attend:

  • Owners of family businesses and next generation family business owners. We encourage families to send several family members spanning the generations.
  • Owners of family passive assets
  • Principals within family offices

Participants will have all completed their education and started their professional career.

Application for the programme is taken very seriously. The applications are reviewed with care to ensure the group is homogeneous in terms of objectives and experience. We endeavour to revert to each applicant within 48 hours (over a working week).

Academic Programme Director

Khaled Soufani

Khaled Soufani

Faculty (Professor level) in Management Practice

PhD (University of Nottingham)

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Other faculty & speakers

Christoph H. Loch

Christoph H. Loch

Professor of Management Studies

PhD (Stanford Graduate School of Business)

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Allison Wheeler-Héau

Allison Wheeler-Héau

Director of Open Programmes

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Iraj Ispahani

Founding Advisor

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Iraj Ispahani is the CEO of Ispahani Advisory and is based in London. Iraj serves as a Director and Board Member of the Ispahani Group, a family business headquartered in Bangladesh which will celebrate 200 years in 2020. 

Iraj has held global and regional leadership roles in banking at JP Morgan with assignments in New York, London and Geneva. During his 16 year tenure, he worked as a fixed-income sales professional, as a client relationship manager in the private bank and as a corporate finance coverage banker in investment banking. During his private banking career Iraj advised wealth owning clients on investment strategy and generational planning. In his last assignment at JP Morgan, Iraj was Chief Operating Officer of the Global Financial Institutions Group in the investment bank.

In 2001 Iraj co-founded Cantos Communications which pioneered the use of online corporate and investor communications in Europe. Iraj subsequently worked in organisational development with a focus on people and leadership before joining his family business in 2011.

Iraj has worked in a voluntary capacity for 25 years to help rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe. He currently serves as Deputy Chair and Trustee of Shakespeare’s Globe. He also serves as Chair of the Remuneration Committee and Chair of the Nominations Committee. He is a Member of the Advisory Board of 'Seeing is Believing', Standard Chartered's global initiative to tackle avoidable blindness in collaboration with The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

Iraj was educated at Winchester College and holds a Masters of Philosophy degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelors degree (with honours) from London University in politics and history. Over the years Iraj has been interviewed in the Financial Times on talent, emerging markets and philanthropy. In addition he speaks at leading business schools and family education forums.

Philip Marcovici

Founding Advisor

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Philip Marcovici is retired from the practice of law and consults with governments, financial institutions and global families in relation to tax, wealth management and other matters.

Philip is on the boards of several entities within the wealth management industry, as well as of entities within family succession and philanthropic structures. Philip is actively involved in teaching in the areas of taxation, wealth management and family governance. He is a member of the adjunct faculties of Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU). Philip is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology's Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies.

Philip was the founder and CEO of LawInContext (now known as Baker McKenzie Link), the interactive knowledge venture of global law firm, Baker & McKenzie. Philip retired from his CEO role with the company as from the end of 2010, and from his Chairmanship of the company as from the end of 2011.  

Philip was a partner of Baker McKenzie, a firm he joined in 1982, and practiced in the area of international taxation throughout his legal career. Philip was based in the Hong Kong office of Baker McKenzie for twelve years, relocating to the Zurich office of Baker McKenzie in 1996. Philip has also practiced law in each of New York and Vancouver, British Columbia. Philip retired from Baker McKenzie in 2009.

Philip Marcovici is the former chair of the European tax practice of Baker McKenzie and of the steering committee of the Firm’s international wealth management practice, of which he was one of the founders. Philip was also one of the founders of the Baker McKenzie Asia-Pacific tax practice and was involved in a number of firm and practice group management functions.

Among others, Philip Marcovici received the Citywealth Magic Circle Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and, jointly with Fritz Kaiser, the Wealth Management Innovator award in 2011 for his work in instigating the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility. In 2010 Philip received the Russell Baker Award from Baker McKenzie in appreciation for his exceptional contributions to the firm’s Global Tax Practice. In 2013, Philip received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners and in 2016 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from WealthBriefing.

Philip is a graduate of Harvard Law School and of the law school of the University of Ottawa. He is admitted to practice in New York, England and Wales, Hong Kong and British Columbia, Canada (retired).

Philip is the author of The Destructive Power of Family Wealth (2016). 

Dates & fees

Dates Duration Fees *
7-11 October 2019 3.5 days £6,995 + VAT
5-9 October 2020 3.5 days £6,995 + VAT

The programme begins in the late afternoon/early evening on Monday 7 October, and finishes after lunch on Friday 11 October. This means the programme lasts for 3.5 days.

VAT is charged at the prevailing rate, which is currently 20%; e.g. £6,995 + 20% = £8,394.

* Fees include instruction, materials, lunch and daytime refreshments and some evening meals including a gala dinner in an historic Cambridge College. Preferential rates may be available for groups, University of Cambridge alumni and members of the School's Alumni Association. Please note prices pre-registration are subject to change.

Participants should make arrangements for their own accommodation, but we can certainly advise on recommended places – please do contact us for information.

For information regarding payment terms, cancellation rights, transfer policies and fees, please see our terms & conditions documents:

Terms & Conditions for Self-funded Applicants (pdf, 233KB) (updated 31 January 2018)
Terms & Conditions for Organisation-funded Applicants (pdf, 250KB) (updated 31 January 2018)

Registration closes at midday two working days before the programme start date.

Participants are expected to attend the full programme.

This programme has a limited number of places. In order to avoid disappointment, we would encourage you to reserve a place. This will simply keep your place until you are able to send in the application form, and we will remain in touch with you to inform you if the programme is almost full.

If you have any questions or would like to have a chat about this programme and how it could benefit you or your organisation, please get in touch with the programme advisor:

Allison Wheeler-Heau

Version 2.1 (12 April 2019)


Selection for the Responsible Family Business & Wealth Ownership programme is taken very seriously, and we ask prospective participants to complete the application form to ensure that the programme is the right one for them at the right time in their career.

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