Small business growth a rich harvest for advisors: Manulife

by David Keelaghan31 Oct 2016
Faced by an uncertain economic future, and with long-term job security appearing to be a relic of a bygone age, more and more Canadians are deciding to start their own business. That’s especially the case for millennials, who are feeling the pinch of this new reality much more than their predecessors. Manulife’s 2016 Small Business Research Report released this month confirmed as much, but there is a silver lining for advisors ready to assist the nation’s budding entrepreneurs.

Jennifer Gregory, National Vice President, Strategic & Distribution Alliances at Manulife outlines the implications of this shift towards business ownership.

“One of the things that jumped out from the survey was that these people are not traditionally defined entrepreneurs,” she says. “Many chose to go down this path because they did not have a job. You will see growth in small businesses with fewer and fewer people coming out of university getting a job right away.”

Once they make the great leap to business ownership, millennials differ from their parents’ generation in how they operate their business in a variety of ways. According to the Manulife survey, those born between the years 1980 and 2000 now account for 25% of small business owners in Canada. It’s a considerably slice of the pie for providers, and a number that will only increase in the years to come.

“We wondered whether millennials would turn to an advisor for support, but this survey showed that the younger generation are even more open to direction and advice from an expert.”

How that expertise is delivered can come in many forms, and insurance providers are making great efforts to make sure they are not left behind as the digital age rewrites the rules of the game.

“Our advisors offer a lot of one-on-one counselling, and I don’t think that’s going to go away in the future,” says Gregory. “There will be less face-to-face meetings, but more Skype, more text, more e-mail, that’s how millennials want to receive information.”

At a recent clients counsel meeting, Gregory also noticed a difference with the generations when it came to health and fitness programs for employees. While jobs for life were common for many baby boomers, that’s no longer the case today, and this shift has meant a reluctance by many older employers to implement wellness plans.

“Many baby boomers looked at it as a case of – ‘how much investment should we put into wellness for employees when they are going to leave every 3–5 years?’ Millennials are different in that they want to invest and get as much out of their employees in that five-year period,” she said.

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