Survey finds family business owners delaying retirement

Newly released findings from Australia’s longest running national survey of family and private business owners, undertaken by RMIT University and international accounting firm MGI, suggests that in 2013 owners are employing fewer people and delaying retirement.

Newly released findings from Australia’s longest running national survey of family and private business owners, undertaken by RMIT University and international accounting firm MGI, suggests that in 2013 owners are employing fewer people and delaying retirement.

The MGI Australian Family and Private Business Survey 2013,
the eighth in a series, saw RMIT University Professor Kosmas Smyrnios survey 5,000 Australian companies. Over the past 19 years this series of surveys has tracked the concerns and motivations of Australian family and private business owners, making it the longest running survey of its type in Australia and one of the longest running of its type in the world.

The survey concluded that ageing owners intend to keep working as fewer have adequately funded retirement programs and selling to fund retirement is becoming less of an option as for many the sale price of their business has declined. According to the findings, in the past three years only 24 per cent of family business owners have experienced an increase in profitability and market share. Operators are becoming increasingly concerned about their future with less than 40 per cent of family business owners having positive expectations of market improvement in the next 12 months.

“Today almost 60 per cent of family business owners feel that their children are not interested in taking over the family business,” MGI Chairman Sue Prestney said. “Daughters in particular, while more inclined to stride out on their own as entrepreneurs, are far less likely to be involved in the family business (nine per cent) than their brothers (36 per cent).

According to Professor Smyrnios’ research, family business operators were currently most concerned with:

  • The impact of the high Australian dollar on their profit margins.
  • Letting go of leadership and control of their family businesses.
  • Securing adequate capital for growth and retirement.

Additional figures of interest from the survey were:

  • The average age of family business owners had increased from 56 to 58 during the past decade.
  • Owners older than 65 had increased from 20 per cent to 25 per cent during the past decade.
  • More than one third of family business owners – up from 27 per cent in 2003 to 34 per cent in 2013 – don’t have an adequately funded retirement program and as a result will work on under the current tough conditions.

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