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How the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs Invest

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The world’s most successful entrepreneurs now invest 20.2% of their total wealth in equities, according to the fifth BNP Paribas global entrepreneur report, released Wednesday. The exception is ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneurs, whose heaviest weighting remains their own businesses.

For the first time in the study’s history, U.S. entrepreneurs’ top asset allocation choice was equities, outweighing their investments in fixed income, cash or even their own businesses.

The annual report examines how wealthy entrepreneurs around the world allocate their wealth and think about their roles in the economy.

The new report was based on an online survey conducted by Scorpio Partnership in July and August among 2,763 high-net-worth (investable assets between $10 million and $25 million) and ultra-high-net-worth (investable assets of $25 million or more) investors who owned businesses. Two-third of respondents, who represent a total net worth of $16 billion, were men and one-third were women.

In addition, Scorpio Partnership conducted in-depth interviews with BNP Paribas Wealth Management experts from the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Fifty-five percent of entrepreneurs in the study have invested in technology companies, usually directly or through mutual funds. The appetite for tech is most voracious in Belgium, India and Singapore, where 79%, 74% and 70% of investors, respectively, invest in the sector, compared with 59% in the U.S.

The study found passive strategies on the rise, particularly in Asia. Thirty-six percent of entrepreneurs reported that they had invested through exchange-traded funds. ETFs with a technology overlay offer a cheaper alternative to access the stock market, the study noted.

PNB Paribas reported that across the world, entrepreneurs consistently place sustainable and responsible investment in their top five choices for growth potential, with those based in China, Spain and the U.K. most convinced — 35%, 32% and 27%, respectively, compared with 21% of U.S. entrepreneurs.

Ultra-wealthy entrepreneurs go farther, putting SRIs in their top two sectors for future investments, according to the study.

“We already knew how elite entrepreneurs keep their entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to their private investments, Vincent Lecomte, co-chief executive of BNP Paribas Wealth Management, said in a statement.

“However, this study demonstrates a clear acceleration: These entrepreneurs want to have an impact through their investments as they have with their company. The rise of private investments and SRIs are a clear consequence of this growing expectation.”

Sixty-three percent of entrepreneurs in the study said they managed their investment portfolios through an advisory mandate. Entrepreneurs rely on their wealth advisors and their research to source investment ideas, which becomes critical when selecting promising private equity opportunities.

The research found that 63% of high-net-worth entrepreneurs use private equity for direct investments.

The wealthiest entrepreneurs in the study invest in search of tangible outcomes, with 58% using private equity and more than half relying on venture capital to make business investments. In addition, 29% invest in line with their personal passions, such as vineyards, classic cars and art.

The study found that global entrepreneurs who have angel investments want to be pioneers of innovation. Twenty-four percent of respondents were what the report called “business angels,” a figure that rose to almost a third of ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneurs.

Roughly a third of these work with pioneers in artificial intelligence, including 54% of entrepreneurs in China. Other business angels support ground-breaking change in “cleantech,” which strives to create more energy-efficient forms of technology, or “biotech,” which seeks to improve the quality of human life.

Fifty-six percent of female business angels cited the opportunity to mentor other entrepreneurs as a motivation for their startup investments, compared with 50% of men. Specifically, 62% of these women said they supported promising, early-stage local businesses.

— Check out The Big Switch: From Country Musician to Financial Advisor on ThinkAdvisor.


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