You, Too, Can be a Millionaire!

New study shows that entrepreneurialism is the fastest route to riches

Written by Jim McElgunn

It’s time to toss out the stereotype that the wealthiest Canadians are pretty much exclusively native-born Canadian men. A new study by BMO Harris Private Banking shows that immigrants, children of immigrants, and women make up a major share of the country’s ranks of millionaires.

And the study suggests that entrepreneurship is the principal route to riches, with the vast majority of millionaires reporting they generated their own wealth.

The study examined the demographics of Canadians with investable assets (i.e., not including their principal residence) of $1 million or more. It found that almost half of them are newcomers to Canada or their children: 24% are immigrants and another 24% are first-generation Canadians with at least one parent born outside the country. This total of 48% ranged from 44% in Alberta to 66% in B.C. (For other regional breakdowns, see the table below.)

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The national average of 48% is far higher than the third of millionaire Americans who are newcomers or their children, according to an identical study that BMO Harris Private Banking did in the U.S.

The Canadian study showed that almost a third (32%) of high net worth Canadians are women. That’s up sharply from 21% in 2010.

Other key results from the study include:

  • Two-thirds (67%) of all wealthy Canadians report that they’re self-made millionaires.
  • The wealthy tend to be highly educated. Fully 80% of millionaires possess at least a university degree. Of the total, 46% have a graduate or professional degree; 10% a technical, trade or apprenticeship certificate; and 9% a high school diploma or less.

Research company Pollara did this online survey of 305 Canadian adults with investable assets of at least $1 million from March 28 to April 11. The margin of error for this sample size is 5.6%, 19 times out of 20.

Regional breakdowns of Canadian millionaires
% who are€¦
New Canadians* Women Self-made
Atlantic 83% 46% 37%
Quebec 64% 44% 24%
Ontario 64% 45% 36%
Alberta 72% 44% 36%
B.C. 74% 68% 26%
CANADA 67% 48% 32%
*Immigrants or first-generation Canadians with at least one foreign-born parents
Source: Pollara survey for BMO Harris Private Banking, March/April 2013
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