Nearly half of our millionaires are immigrants, new Canadians

Jun 19, 2013 by

Source: CTV News

A new survey finds close to half of the country’s millionaires are either immigrants or first-generation Canadians who made the bulk of their money after their arrival to the country.

By comparison, only 20 per cent of respondents attributed at least part of their wealth to an inheritance.

The BMO Harris Private Banking survey found that 48 per cent of Canadians with liquid assets of $1 million or more were either immigrants (24 per cent), or first-generation Canadians (24 per cent), meaning they had at least one parent born outside the country. In British Columbia, a full 68 per cent of the millionaires said they were new Canadians.

One of those newcomer-turned-millionaires is Vikram Vij, who opened up an Indian restaurant in Vancouver five years after immigrating to Canada.

“When I came to this country I realized this was a young country,” Vij told CTV News. “I realized if I worked hard, with honesty and with integrity, this country was going to give me the chance. And that’s what I wanted to achieve in my life in India.”

Vij said when he leased space to open his first restaurant, the landlord complained of the smell of curry in the building.

“I was really slow and I was having a hard time to pay the bills, so just to please him I told my mom and dad to make the curries at home and bring it down.”

Today, Vij runs two restaurants in British Columbia, manages a line of pre-packaged gourmet curries and has published two cookbooks.

“At the end of the day, my journey is not done,” he said. “I’m going to remain focused until the day I die.”

The survey also finds that more than two-thirds of Canada’s millionaires, like Vij, are self-made — meaning they built up their nest egg on their own.

“They are not inheriting the wealth. These are people who created the wealth who made their own wealth,” said Alan Desnoyers of BMO.

The study also revealed that women make up one-third of Canada’s affluent, up from 21 per cent three years ago. It also found that 40 per cent of women generated their own wealth.

Interestingly though, only one-third of the high net-worth women said they managed their own investments, compared to 59 per cent of men.

And education appeared to be a big indicator of wealth: eight in 10 of the Canadian millionaires said they had at least a university degree, including 46 per cent who had a graduate or professional degree.

Just 10 per cent had a technical, trade or apprenticeship degree, and just 9 per cent held only a high school diploma or less.

The online survey was conducted by Pollara between March 28 and April 11, 2013 and involved 305 Canadians with $1 million in assets.

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