Retirement Moving Further Away For SME Owners

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Retirement Moving Further Away For Three Quarters Of SME Owners In South West

Most owner-managers remain optimistic but nearly a third are committed to shedding staff, according to Clifton Asset Management survey  Retirement is becoming a distant prospect for more small business owners in the South West than in any other part of the country.

And while those who say they are feeling downbeat about their immediate prospects are still in a minority, nearly a third admit they will be forced to cut jobs in the next six months, more than any other region in England or Wales.

They are also increasingly critical about what they see as the Government’s failure to appreciate the crucial role of SMEs in the South West, and about the effect of its pensions policy on their financial position in retirement.

These are among the findings of a survey carried out in the South West by Clifton Asset Management (CAM), the UK’s leading alternative to banks for owner-managed businesses, finance and strategic planning, who questioned nearly 100 business owners across the region about their retirement plans.

Anthony Carty, director at CAM, said 75 per cent of the business owners questioned felt that their retirement was now further away than it was a year ago – the highest percentage in the entire country.

“This compares with a figure of 52 per cent in our last survey just three months ago, so clearly the economic downturn is already having an impact on people’s retirement plans,” he commented.

“Clearly, the ongoing stock market turmoil and the bail-out of the banks will do nothing to calm people’s fears when they come to weigh up their retirement options in the coming months. “

The Clifton Asset Management research also found that while 67 per cent of owner-managers in the South West said they were generally optimistic about the prospects for their business and only 15 per cent were definitely pessimistic, almost a third (32 per cent) said they would have to reduce their payroll in the next six months.

Other key findings in the survey include:

  • the retirement plans of those in the construction, consultancy, transport and wholesale sectors have been particularly badly hit, with automotive, manufacturing, restaurants and retail among the other worst affected sectors
  • more than half of South West business owners (54 per cent) plan to retire between the age of 55 and 65, compared to 49 per cent in the last survey, while 19 per cent do not plan to retire at all
  • just 9 per cent feel that Government recognizes the crucial role of owner-managed businesses to the economy, with the same figure believing that Gordon Brown has been “good” for their pension plans
  • some 37 per cent of business owners have bought their current business premises with their pension provision in mind

Anthony Carty added that the survey showed many SME owners in the South West were still enjoying the effects of having run a business in more benevolent times.

He concluded: “It appears that businesses in the South West are yet to feel the full shock of what is happening out there, and perhaps there is an element of still being able to benefit from the kinder trading conditions of last year.”

“This comfort zone will disappear as we move into 2009 and it is striking that almost a third of businesses are already planning job cuts, the highest figure in the country.”

“We are in for a very tough six-nine months, and this is backed up by the feedback we are receiving from businesses across the country every single day. In the light of all this it is hardly surprising that business owners feel their retirement is moving further away.”

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