Business owners are more prepared for generational wealth transfer than employed professionals, according to new global research by RBC Wealth Management.

But only 51 percent of business owners have a will, and 22 percent said they have done nothing at all to prepare for transferring their wealth.

RBC Wealth Management surveyed 384 business owners, with an average net worth of $6.4 million, in the United States, Canada and the UK.


Here are some of their additional key findings:

  • Close to 40 percent said they have a comprehensive wealth transfer plan in place, versus just 25 percent of employed professionals.
  • Business owners with more than $10 million in assets are three times more likely to have a full wealth transfer plan than those with less than $1 million in assets.

Rupert, an entrepreneur in the early stages of wealth transfer planning, was interviewed as part of the survey. He said he recently sold his equity stake in the business he founded and is now developing his wealth transfer strategy, starting with a will.

“A few months ago, I did not have any wealth transfer plans," he said. "But in the last six months I put together my first will, because I sold my stake in the business and am now a father of two young children."

The survey also found that business owners are self-motivated and well-informed:

  • Business owners prefer self-directed learning: Two out of three conduct their own research to build financial knowledge.
  • They prefer to drive their own learning activities, with 52 percent reporting that they read the financial press, compared to 38 percent of employed professionals.
  • They also seem to better understand the need for comprehensive planning, due in part to the illiquid nature of their assets.

“It's such a challenge to deal with generational wealth transfer when, say, 75 percent of your net worth is tied up in a family business," said John Younger, managing director of relationship management with RBC Wealth Management in the UK.

To read the full survey, click here.

The report is produced by RBC Wealth Management, an affiliate of City National Bank, member FDIC. City National Bank (CNB) is an affiliate of RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, and an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. The report is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be either a specific offer by CNB to sell or provide, or a specific invitation to apply for, any particular financial account, product or service of RBC Wealth Management or CNB.

The information contained in the report is not intended, and should not be construed, as professional advice or opinion provided to the user, nor as a recommendation of any particular approach. This document is not intended to be an invitation to effect a securities transaction or an offer or solicitation for investment advice.