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Affluent Insights Survey: Business Owner Spotlight Finds Business Owners Confident Their Business Will Succeed After Retiring; Succession Planning Is Key


Merrill Lynch Survey Also Finds Business Owners Focused on Growth

Sixty percent of business owners are confident their business will continue to be successful after they retire, according to findings from the Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Survey: Business Owner Spotlight, announced today. However, only 35 percent of business owners with $10 million to $250 million in revenue said they are very confident in their personal wealth management strategy’s ability to meet their financial and life goals if they were to stop running their business today.

Additionally, only 39 percent of business owners worked with a management consultant, personal financial advisor, or commercial banker to develop their succession plan. Similarly, many business owners have not worked with a personal financial advisor and/or commercial banker to prepare their personal finances for possible scenarios in which they will no longer be actively running their business (33 percent).

“The best succession planning strategies evolve and require frequent evaluation. A transfer of ownership or management could happen on a timeline as planned, or come as a result of sudden or unforeseen circumstances,” said John Thiel, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “That means business owners must take a holistic view of both personal and business finances. It is important that business owners are prepared for a variety of situations, not only so their business can seamlessly continue running after a transition, but also so their personal finances can continue to support their financial and life goals.”

When asked who they would trust to take their place if they were forced to stop running their business today, half (51 percent) of business owners would choose a current employee, followed by a family member (24 percent). One in five (21 percent) however stated they’d have to hire someone from outside their business. If someone were to take over their company today, business owners would be most concerned with financial management (23 percent), leadership succession (20 percent), and business development and growth (16 percent).

Looking ahead to 2013: business owners focused on growth

When asked what the one greatest opportunity for business growth in 2013 is, business owners cited:

-Introducing new products or services (24 percent).
-Taking advantage of new technologies that can improve their business (24 percent).
-Targeting a new kind of customer (21 percent).
-Expanding domestic locations (21 percent).

Even though business owners have faced a turbulent economy as a result of global economic events the past two years, more business owners say they hired people (30 percent) than laid employees off (22 percent). Other business changes included: targeting a new customer base (38 percent), expanding operations to take advantage of new opportunities (37 percent), and changing product or service to better meet market demands (35 percent).

“Business owners face dual challenges in both managing the finances of their business while also planning their own financial future,” said Martin Richards, Enterprise Client Coverage executive. “They want to make sure that their business thrives and grows, meeting business goals while building, managing and preserving their personal wealth. We understand the challenges this presents and how those needs intersect and change. Our commitment is to connect these business owners to the capabilities and expertise across our company to enable them to meet their business and personal financial goals.”

The majority of businesses are focusing their operations on domestic markets, with 89 percent receiving less than half of their revenue from international operations and sales. However, when looking to the next five years, one in five (17 percent) business owners plan to expand their business internationally. While the majority of business owners are prioritizing domestic markets for the immediate future, one-third (32 percent) do believe that the benefits of international expansion are worth the risk.

For more information about the Merrill Lynch Affluent Insights Survey: Business Owner Spotlight, visit


The survey was conducted via phone by Braun Research in October 2012 on behalf of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. The nationally representative sample consisted of 250 business owners with revenue of $10 million to $250 million. The margin of error is +/- 6.19 percent for a national sample reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management

Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is a leading provider of comprehensive wealth management and investment services for individuals and businesses globally. With more than 17,500 Financial Advisors and more than $1.8 trillion in client balances as of September 30, 20121, it is among the largest businesses of its kind in the world. Within Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, the Private Banking and Investment Group provides tailored solutions to ultra affluent clients, offering both the intimacy of a boutique and the resources of a premier global financial services company. These clients are served by more than 150 Private Wealth Advisor teams, along with experts in areas such as investment management, concentrated stock management and intergenerational wealth transfer strategies. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is part of Bank of America Corporation.

1 Source: Bank of America. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management (MLGWM) represents multiple business areas within Bank of America’s wealth and investment management division including Merrill Lynch Wealth Management (North America and International), Merrill Lynch Trust Company, and Private Banking and Investment Group. As of September 30, 2012, MLGWM entities had approximately $1.8 trillion in client balances. Client Balances consists of the following assets of clients held in their MLGWM accounts: assets under management (AUM) of MLGWM entities, client brokerage assets, assets in custody of MLGWM entities, loan balances and deposits of MLGWM clients held at Bank of America, N.A. and affiliated banks.

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Merrill Lynch Wealth Management makes available products and services offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S) and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is a marketing name for the Retirement & Philanthropic Services (RPS) businesses of Bank of America Corporation. Banking and fiduciary activities are performed globally by banking affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Brokerage services are performed globally by brokerage affiliates of Bank of America Corporation, including MLPF&S.

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