Canada's banks eye business-succession planning for boomers

Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:39am EST
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* Succession plans tie in wealth management, other services

* Bulk of business owners have no succession plan

* Banks hope to continue doing business with next generation

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - For many Canadian business owners, it may take the sudden death of a colleague or a debilitating illness before they realize they don't have a succession plan and need one badly.

Baby boomers own the bulk of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada, and many have neglected to make formal plans for passing on their businesses - either to relatives or through a sale. That has left a void that Canada's banks are vying to fill.

"Our business owner clients are very quickly turning 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65," said Tony Maiorino, head of wealth management services at Royal Bank of Canada, the nation's largest bank. "They see a colleague who dies, who gets cancer, who has a stroke, and their business is disrupted and their family is at a loss."

These are "groundhog moments," he says, and a startled business owner may think, "'Holy crap, I don't want that to happen to me'."

The looming need for contingency planning is helping RBC's business succession unit swim against the tide, Maiorino says, as it expands rapidly at a time when many global banks have cut back on staffing in the wake of the financial crisis.   Continued...