Sean Cohen, Private Wealth Manager, Carrick Wealth

Sean Cohen is a globally recognised thought leader in offshore wealth management, wealth building, tax structuring, and business strategy. With an extensive background in helping South Africans protect and grow their wealth through strategic offshore investments, Sean’s insights are sought after by a diverse, global audience. His deep understanding of complex international regulations and tax laws allows him to offer unparalleled guidance on investment strategies and fund structuring. As the author of the popular LinkedIn Newsletter, “The 30 Second Market Brief,” Sean distils complex market information into concise, actionable insights that engage and educate his readers. His ability to break down intricate financial concepts has garnered him a substantial social media following, with thousands of professionals and investors looking to his content for advice on wealth building and business growth.


As someone who has worked closely with high-net-worth business owners for years, I’ve seen first-hand how challenging it can be for them to separate their personal wealth from their business assets. Many entrepreneurs pour everything into their ventures, leading to a blurred line between business and personal finances. This struggle often stems from a deep commitment to their businesses, a desire to reinvest profits, and sometimes a lack of awareness about the benefits of diversification.

Take, for example, the story of Jane, a successful entrepreneur who poured all her resources into her thriving business. When the pandemic hit, her business struggled, and she found herself without a safety net. Unfortunately, Jane’s story isn’t unique. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years, 45% during the first five years​​, and 65% during the first ten years. These statistics underscore the critical need for entrepreneurs to diversify their investments outside their primary business.

The Challenge of Siloed Assets

Entrepreneurs often find it difficult to separate their business and personal assets for several reasons. First, there’s a natural inclination to reinvest earnings back into the business to fuel growth and expansion. This can be particularly true for those who see their business as their primary retirement plan. Second, managing a successful business can be time-consuming, leaving little time for personal financial planning. Finally, there can be a lack of knowledge about the importance of asset diversification and how to effectively separate and manage these different types of assets.

I’ve seen business owners lose everything due to market shifts or industry changes. We all know someone who lost their business during COVID-19. For those whose business was their only asset, the pandemic was devastating, leaving them with nothing as they approached retirement. This underscores the critical need for diversification. Additionally, many entrepreneurs sign surety for company debts, making it even more important to have creditor-protected assets such as pensions and trusts.

Why It’s Important to Separate Business and Personal Assets

Protect Personal Assets

Separating personal and business assets shields personal wealth from business debts and lawsuits. This protection ensures that personal savings and investments are not at risk if the business encounters financial difficulties.

Clear Finances

Keeping finances separate makes it easier to track and manage personal and business money. Maintaining clear boundaries between personal and business expenses can streamline tax preparation and prevent potential issues with tax authorities.

Tax Simplicity

Separating assets simplifies tax filing and ensures correct expense categorisation. This clear separation helps avoid mistakes and makes financial records more transparent, which is beneficial during audits or financial reviews.


Having distinct personal and business finances enhances business credibility with clients and investors. It demonstrates a professional approach to financial management, which can be crucial for securing investments and building trust with stakeholders.

Estate Planning

Proper estate planning ensures that an entrepreneur’s wealth is protected and appropriately distributed to heirs. This secures the financial future of their family and helps manage taxes and legal complexities. Proper estate planning can reduce estate taxes and streamline the transition process during succession.

Credit Management

Maintaining separate credit histories for personal and business finances aids in loan approvals and protects personal credit scores from being affected by business liabilities. This separation can lead to better credit terms for both personal and business loans.

The Benefits of Diversification

Risk Mitigation

Diversifying investments reduces an entrepreneur’s overall risk profile. Business assets are inherently subject to market fluctuations, industry-specific risks, and operational challenges. By investing in various asset classes, entrepreneurs can protect themselves against these risks. Diversified portfolios tend to perform better over time, particularly during economic downturns.

Retirement Planning

Relying solely on the business to fund retirement is risky. Market conditions, potential buyers, and the economic climate can all impact the sale price and timing. By investing in retirement accounts, real estate, and other income-generating assets, entrepreneurs can ensure a steady retirement income, irrespective of their business’s performance. Diversified retirement portfolios significantly reduce financial insecurity for retirees.

Succession Planning

Effective succession planning requires not just identifying the right successors but also ensuring that the business can operate without the founder’s daily involvement. Personal financial stability, achieved through diversified investments, allows entrepreneurs to transition out of their businesses under optimal conditions. I’ve seen executors needing to step in to control businesses for years while estates get wound up, which can result in disastrous management and significant loss in value for the business and family inheritance. Companies with robust succession plans are more likely to remain family-owned and continue thriving after the founder steps down.


Understanding the importance of investing outside their business is crucial for entrepreneurs to secure their financial future. By diversifying investments into pensions, estate assets, and trusts, they can achieve a balanced financial plan that reduces risks and supports retirement and succession planning. This strategy not only protects personal wealth but also ensures that the business can thrive independently, providing a legacy for future generations.

While passion for one’s business is essential, adopting a broader financial perspective is crucial. Diversification is not just a financial strategy; it’s a path to long-term freedom and security. Entrepreneurs who embrace this approach can safeguard their future, protect their legacy, and ultimately enjoy the rewards of their hard work and dedication.

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