Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seniors As Entrepreneurs

Business Week sees a surge in senior-run businesses. Here on the New England coast, anecdotal evidence supports that view. For those ending long-term business or professional careers, "retirement" often means the start of something new. Some seniors pursue a long-nurtured Great Business Idea. Others seek to turn a hobby into a source of retirement income. A significant number start business ventures in partnership with sons or daughters, hoping to give the younger generation a leg up.

Senior entrepreneurship is not a new trend. Far from it. Here's a mid-twentieth-century example from the annals of The Merrill Anderson Company:

Earl S. MacNeill, senior entrepreneur

in 1958 Earl S. MacNeill – estate attorney, trust executive, author – retired from a fine old trust institution in New York City. Presumably fearing that estate planning and writing wouldn't keep him occupied, he joined Merrill Anderson. He'd already moonlighted a bit for the company, contributing booklet copy and articles for the trust newsletter.

When the eponymous founder retired, Earl MacNeill became Merrill Andersons's principal stockholder. Under his leadership the company morphed from a small ad agency, mainly serving a handful of major clients, to the premier provider of newsletters, presentation materials and other marketing tools to hundreds of trust institutions nationwide. One of Mac's innovations, still going strong today, is Estate Planning Studies and Briefs.

• • •
Mac, as everyone called him, wasn't the sort of highly polished, expensively tailored estate attorney you read about these days. Genial and down to earth, he never lost his unpretentious, upstate New York manner.

Here's the jacket blurb for the first of his two books, published by Harpers in 1957, a year or so before he joined Merrill Anderson full time.

Earl S. MacNeill is Vice-President of the Irving Trust Company of New York. He is the author of numerous articles on tax and trust subjects. He has long been active in the Trust Division of the American Bankers Association, is a member of the Committee on Taxation of Income of Trusts and Estates of the American Bar Association, and is on the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking, Rutgers University.
Mac's books, and what they tell us about the evolution of estate planning, deserve a post of their own. Watch this blog.

1 comment:

Jim Gust said...


I think we still have copies of some of Earl's books in the office.