skip to navigation skip to content

Responsible Family Business & Wealth Ownership

Family Business


Family business and wealth ownership is expanding, and demand for education and support in this area in an increasingly complex world is well-established. Many programmes focus on the next generation and on business succession rather than on the ownership and application of more passive wealth and other more holistic needs of families.

The theme of our 2018 programme is risk management, and our programme will explore this from all angles relevant to families and family businesses: How can risk be reduced by taking advantage of the unique opportunities that family resilience offers? How to identify and manage risks within the family, the business and the external world, including political and other risk? How do we understand and manage conflicts of interest and the risks they give rise to? Risk, if well identified and managed, represents opportunity, particularly for family business and wealth, and for families generally.

Watch our series of short videos below to find out more about what to expect on the programme, how this programme is unique, and more information from Philip Marcovici on this year's programme theme, 'De-risking family businesses'.

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
  • How to manage passive asset ownership effectively
  • How to plan for growth balancing family culture, tradition and business strategies
  • How to govern interwoven and conflicting matters shaping the development of the family business and the business family
  • How to craft a transgenerational succession and engagement plan that ensures family business continuity
  • How to 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 cover the following core topics:

Leadership & Followership

  • Personal development
  • Enhancing leadership skills and capabilities
  • Becoming an effective Board member
  • Organisational development and human resources
  • Intergenerational collaboration
  • Effective branding, marketing and public relations

Governance & Structures

  • Delivering impactful contributions within the family business
  • Challenges for the future, and the role of family wealth and businesses in society
  • Understanding the "animals in the zoo" – the vehicles used to own family businesses and wealth and how they work, and the governance needed, including trusts, foundations, companies, partnerships, insurance arrangements

Succession Planning & Asset Protection

  • Understanding the real needs of family business and wealth owners – succession planning, governance, asset protection and family constitutions
  • Role of psychiatrists and psychologists in helping families avoid wealth being destructive of family relationships, family businesses and family wealth
  • Changing demographics and the need for wealth and business owners to deal with ageing and succession impact

Investment & Tax

  • Private equity and venture capital
  • Alternative (asset class) investments
  • Public companies and what investors need to know
  • Portfolio analysis
  • Balance sheet recognition and basic accounting
  • Social impact investing
  • Understanding the tax and regulatory world affecting family business and wealth

Interest streams

Participants will have the opportunity to select and follow several supplementary 'interest streams' of their choice. These include:

Next Generation stream

  • Preparing for active roles within the family business
  • Preparation for an ownership (non-operational) role in the family business
  • Preparation for wealth owners and/or beneficiaries of family wealth following a liquidity event

Family Business Leaders' stream

  • Enhance and update business operational skills and knowledge

Family Business Owners' stream

  • Efficient, effective and responsible business owners

Wealth Owners' stream

  • Become increasingly self-sufficient by learning and implementing best practices 

Additional topics

Big Data, big potential!

With the proliferation of digital devices, almost everything we do generates data, from talking online to driving a car. So how can business exploit it? From the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data derived from equipment to gain insights, we should think about how big data can improve performance. How can consumers’ social media data be used to understand their psychological differences, and how can we market to them more effectively in light of this?

Ethics in business

Ethics is about "right and wrong". How can we discuss “right and wrong” without preaching ("you have to do the right thing"), with insufficient regard for the difficult trade-offs that organisations must make daily. Businesses large and small face pressure from their competitors, shareholders and from the communities in which they operate. The ethical debate has become increasingly relevant for business leaders.

Social media

The rise of the Internet has brought with it not only a way of connecting computer systems and exchanging information. It has also brought a whole new way of communicating. It has given rise to platforms that give the individual a voice as loud and as clear as any brand, made that possible in real-time, and on a scale never seen before. With half the world's population now connected to the internet, and two thirds of them now actively engaged in expressing their opinions, publishing their lives, and sharing information openly - social media is a world no business or family can afford to ignore or fail to understand. Privacy issues abound and families need to be aware of these.

Cyber security

From a business and family wealth perspective, technology has moved from being simply a tool we use to compete more effectively, to being the environment which defines the competitive landscape we operate in. This brings a whole new dynamic to wealth and business owning families. Inherent in this new environment are risks which business leaders and families now face in an increasingly connected world, and they may benefit from practical risk management guidance that can be adopted around the board or kitchen table.

Women in leadership

Fostering the next generation of women leaders and expanding the pool of women with the requisite leadership skills is key for any business or wealth owning family. Creating the cultures, institutions and organisations which enable more women to become successful leaders will help the families of tomorrow.


The Entrepreneurship Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School encompasses the full entrepreneurial journey - starting with the empowerment of aspiring entrepreneurs through to the creation and development of early-stage ventures, all the way to small and medium size enterprise growth.


Maintaining competitive advantage is key to the ongoing success of any business. In the current climate, innovation can no longer be considered only as the remit of CEOs or senior management – it must be looked upon as a broader capability that is encouraged and instilled throughout an organisation. Innovation comes in many forms, from business models to new products and basic technology development. What is key for organisations is to foster an environment that supports innovative thinking, developing a wider ecosystem that broadens the input and capability of the business.

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. Some families may choose 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)

View profile

Other faculty & speakers

Christoph H. Loch

Christoph H. Loch

Professor of Management Studies

PhD (Stanford Graduate School of Business)

View profile

Allison Wheeler-Héau

Allison Wheeler-Héau

Director of Open Programmes

View profile

Iraj Ispahani

Founding Advisor

Read more

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 Master’s of Philosophy degree in international relations from Cambridge University and a Bachelor’s 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

Read more

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). 

Panikkos Poutziouris

Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Business

Read more

Dr Panikkos Poutziouris is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Business at UCLan  Cyprus - The Enterprising British University in Cyprus.

After five years of leading  the School of Business and CEDAR - the Centre for Entrepreneurial Development-Alliance & Research - he has recently been appointed as interim Rector.

Professor Poutziouris developed his academic career in the UK, serving for almost two decades on the Faculty of Manchester Business School (University of Manchester) as Fellow in SME Management, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Visiting Associate Professor for Family Business Initiatives. Over the years, Panikkos has held a number of visiting positions in institutions across the globe, such as ESCP Europe (London, Torino), the Beijing Institute of Technology, Vienna Technical University, and ALBA of Athens. More recently he has delivered a series of master classes on Banking on Family Businesses and Business Families as part of Executive Education at Cambridge Judge Business School.

He lectures, researches, publishes and advises internationally on entrepreneurship and strategic development of family businesses and business families. His research and development workshops  focusing on owner-managed family businesses enjoyed support from finance houses/banks, enterprise development agencies and universities worldwide, including National Westminster Bank, SandAire Private Equity, Coutts Private Bank, Family Business Network International, Family Firm Institute, UBS Wealth Management, Tilney Fund Management, Saggita Fund Management, BDO Stoy Hayward, KPMG, PWC and Grant Thornton.

It is axiomatic that Professor Poutziouris has served as an advisor/consultant for the Family Business Expert Group working for European Commission, Directorate of Enterprise and Industry and for OECD on Entrepreneurship Policy; his research and commentaries has been featured in leading business press, such as Financial Times, Sunday Times, Kathimerini, International Herald Tribune and Financial Mail

In 2011, the USA-based Family Firm Institute has honoured Professor Poutziouris, as the former President of IFERA (International Family Enterprise Research Academy, with the FFI International Award in recognition for his contribution to the development of family business initiatives across the globe.

Dates & fees

Dates Duration Fees *
7-11 October 2019 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 breaks. 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.

For the inaugural programme we only have 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 1.1 (1 February 2018)


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.

Apply now

Identify the right open programme for you or your organisation.

Explore our programmes