Survey: Pandemic sped up retirement, succession plans for wealthy business owners

PROVIDENCE – The pandemic sped up retirement or sales plans among high net worth business owners, according to a new study by Clarfeld | Citizens Private Wealth.

The Success and Succession study published Sept. 13 showed that two-thirds of those surveyed had decided to retire early or sped up succession plans. Meanwhile, about half planned to sell their businesses as a result of the pandemic.

Like businesses of all sizes and values, high net worth owners also saw other disruptions from the pandemic. About 1 in 5 closed branches or satellite offices, and nearly the same amount laid off employees.

Nearly two-thirds of wealthy business owners have relocated their businesses since March 2020, moving to lower-tax states, to be nearer to family, or due to the flexibility of remote working. Also reflective of what many think will be a permanent work-from-home environment, three-quarters of survey respondents are thinking about physically moving their business in the next three to five years.

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Other forward-thinking plans include the impact of federal tax changes, which half of high net worth business owners think will have a significant effect on their companies.

The survey reflects answers from business owners with between two and 500 employees, net worth of at least $2 million and investable assets of $5 million or more. Clarfeld | Citizens Private Wealth is a New York-based wealth management firm formed as a result of a merger between Citizens Bank and Clarfeld Financial Advisors LLC in 2019.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at

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