Are You Leaving Your Future To Chance?

Study shows entrepreneurs are unprepared for the complexity of transition to retirement and put it off succession planning altogether

Written by Melissa Campeau

Canadian entrepreneurs love to work—so much so that they’re largely unprepared for a transition to retirement. According to a new Investors Group survey of Canadian owners of small- and medium-sized businesses, more than half (53%) don’t have a succession plan. A majority say it’s because they are not ready to retire. This is true even of those closing in on traditional and early retirement ages: 69% of those without a plan are between the ages of 44 and 64.

More than one-third (39%) of these business owners plan to work until they are in their 70s, with 14% saying they will never retire and 27% saying they will exit between the ages of 65 and 69.

Read: Succession: Which Way to the Exit?

The problem with this, says Jack Courtney, vice-president of high net worth planning at Investors Group, is that preparing for the end of a business owner’s working life can be more complex than the owner realizes. “It’s never too early to consider options for their future and to start asking questions about how to transition their business, particularly if there is a planned transition to the next of family,” says Courtney.

While planning will differ from situation to situation, most owners need advice on tax strategies, investments and family wealth planning to make the most of what they’ve spent years building. “Unfortunately, leaving succession planning until retirement leaves little time to deal with what can be a complicated process,” says Courtney.

When it comes to the question of who will run the business after owners retire, 24% say they would sell to the highest bidder, with just 18 % favouring a family member and 17% preferring a business partner.

Read: Essential Questions for Successful Exits

Regardless of who purchases the company, a sale will almost certainly generate a major influx of cash. While sale proceeds are seen as important for funding retirement by 41% of owners, most aren’t relying solely on that revenue. RRSPs will be the most important source of income for 56% and investment income will fund retirement for 54%.

For many owners, handing over the reins and pocketing enough cash for retirement still doesn’t mean they’ll leave the business entirely. Even after the sale of a company, 60% of owners say they want to remain involved in the business, either as a financial advisor or mentor (30%), a consultant (22%) or as a member of the company’s board of directors (7%).

Read: W100: Simple Steps to Succession Plan

Originally appeared on