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What makes a successful entrepreneur?

Aiming to better serve entrepreneur clients,
BNP Paribas Wealth Management has conducted the largest scale global research study into successful entrepreneurs learning who and where they are.

BNP Paribas Wealth Management has issued the first edition of its new Global Entrepreneurialism Report which examines the behaviours of successful entrepreneurs and angel investors. Over 2,500 high net worth individuals (HNWI) and ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) with a minimum current net worth (excluding primary residence) of USD 2 million and an average of USD 7.6 million. This significant sample, spanning 17 countries across four regions – Europe, Asia, the United States and the Middle East – replied to a survey conducted by Scorpio Partnership.

This year’s publication explores the wealth creation patterns of Angel Investors.

Sofia Merlo, Co-CEO of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, noted "the report reveals angel investors’ commitment as a true asset class, investing close to 10% of their allocation today. As a private bank delivering a holistic approach to our clients, we seek to explore what motivates entrepreneurs when investing and advising companies on their growth path."

Vincent Lecomte, Co-CEO of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, added "This report corresponds to our international presence where we serve successful entrepreneurs from Europe, Asia, the US and the Middle-East. As key contributors to the real economy and to wealth creation, it was our wish to let their voice be heard, sharing their ambitions and their local specificities."

The profile of our successful entrepreneur

He is a man having an average wealth of USD 7.6 million. He comes from an entrepreneurial family and runs at least 5 companies. He was 32 years old when he started his entrepreneurial journey. His businesses are in finance, retail and technology. He invests 9.4% of his total wealth in business angeling and expects 28% return.

Main conclusions:

Age and family: at what age did they decide to create and run their business, when did they start, did they have a family heritage in entrepreneurialism? (pages 17-20)

The age and drive of entrepreneurs today

  • Average age when first considering becoming an entrepreneur is 30 years and one month old while the average start date is just under 32 years (average age of the sample is 43 years old).
  • In the Middle East the thought process starts at just over 25 while in the United States it starts at almost 33 years old.

The influence of family history

  • 60% have a history of business ownership within their family.
  • More than a 75% of entrepreneurs in Taiwan, Spain, Poland, the Gulf countries and Turkey have a family legacy in entrepreneurialism.
  • European mature markets and the USA have a combined average of 56.3%.

Preferred sectors of activity

  • Preferred industries are financial services (16%), retail (15%), and technology (14%).

Gender: women are leading more companies on average and with a larger turnover (page 30)

  • 1,000 women represent 37% of the total sample.
  • Women entrepreneurs typically launch about 5 businesses compared to 4.3 for their male counterparts.
  • At USD 9.1 million the average turnover of primary business for women is higher compared to USD 8.4 million for men.

From successful entrepreneurs to angel investors: How much do they invest, in which sectors, what return do they expect, are they capital-led or advice-led, what is their risk appetite? (pages 34-40)

Portfolio allocation

  • Angel investors allocate on average 9.4% of their portfolio to angel investments with an average return target of 27.7%.
  • Italy, Switzerland, and Turkey have a significant concentration of angel investors. They invest a higher proportion of their wealth in angel investments at respectively 12.8%, 11.0% and 10.6%.
  • Entrepreneurs over the age of 50 have a return target of 18.4% compared with 30.1% return target for entrepreneurs under the age of 50.

Perception of risk

  • Perception of risk in the context of angel investing is very balanced. 49% consider angel investing as having relatively low risk.
  • 77% of Turkish and 78% of German angels view angel investments to be low risk while China is markedly below with 33%.

The geographic investment plans of angels

  • The future preferred regions for angel investments are dominated by home market regions, where the preference is typically to allocate 75% of available angel investments capital.
  • The only exception is the Middle East where 62% of angel investments take place outside the home region.

About BNP Paribas Wealth Management (
Part of BNP Paribas group, BNP Paribas Wealth Management is the world’s 5th largest private bank, present in some 30 countries across Europe, Asia, the USA and Middle East. Over 6,300 professionals, based in every major financial centre, provide a private investor clientele with solutions for optimising and managing their assets. The bank has €299 billion worth of assets under management (as at end September 2014).

Our approach to entrepreneurs is to help them build a bridge between their professional and personal assets by committing to:

  1. Understanding their specific needs at each step of wealth creation throughout the development of their company.
  2. Providing them relevant solutions through a holistic approach leveraging both Wealth Management and BNP Paribas Group capabilities (Real Estate, M&A…)
  3. Serving them with a dedicated setup composed of highly trained private bankers, as well as local and global networks (Business Centers, CIB, Maisons des Entrepreneurs…)
  4. Celebrating entrepreneurialism by putting into place long lasting partnerships (EY Awards, BFM Awards…) and an exclusive new report on entrepreneurialism.

About Scorpio Partnership (

Scorpio Partnership is the leading insight and business consultancy to the global wealth industry. The firm specialises in understanding the wealthy and the financial institutions they interact with. We have developed four transformational disciplines – SEEK, THINK, SHAPE and CREATE – each designed to enable business leaders to strategically assess, plan and drive growth. We leverage our deep insight into client needs and expectations to create practical and actionable business development strategies.