This article analyses founding family influence on pay-out policies for Swiss listed firms over the period 2003–2010. We hypothesise that family firms have different incentives and characteristics that affect pay-out decisions and propose three possible explanations: agency theory, reputation building and family income needs. Our results show that founding family firms display significantly higher dividend pay-outs relative to companies with other ownership structures. We also examine specific family characteristics and document that a family's stake, active involvement and generation play an important role in determining pay-out policies. Our findings appear to be consistent with the family income hypothesis and to some extent with reputational concerns.