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Boomtime for the baby boomers – but for how long?

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I don’t really like the term “baby boomer”. Statisticians and the media use it liberally to refer to anyone born between 1945 and 1965 –as if we are all part of some great movement.

The statistics we are fed are mindboggling. In the UK, baby boomers outnumber children under five, and according to Age UK, 23% of the UK population is over 60. Euromonitor claims that globally, the spending power of the boomer generation will reach $15 trillion by 2020. That makes us part of a pretty big machine.

I don’t know about you, but most business owners I know prefer not to think of themselves as a cog in the machine. They started and built business for almost precisely the opposite reason: to innovate, to lead and be free of the monotony of nine-to-five.

There are a lot of baby boomer business owners out there. According to our own data, at BCMS the average age of a client looking to sell his or her business is 53 – at the younger end of the boomer band. Those born between 1956 and 1965 are what US statisticians call ‘Generation Jones” – these are today’s senior business leaders and policymakers. And like Barack Obama – a Generation Jones man himself – they are now actively looking to move on.

What a vacuum that will create. In the US, two thirds of all businesses are owned by baby boomers, potentially putting 10 million SMEs on the US market over the next decade.

2015 was a record year for company sales, globally. 2016 to date is strong, too, with dynamic companies actively targeted by a huge range of acquiring organisations. It’s boomtime for the boomers now. But is supply about to win over demand? Will today’s seller’s market soon become a buyer’s market?

Posted May 2016
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