The business owners of some of the most acclaimed companies in the UK founded, or were appointed a key role in, the company just before their fortieth birthday on average, new research has revealed.

The research, conducted by distance learning course provider Oxbridge, analysed the average age of people when they started their business, and found that some of the most successful business owners found their success later in life or from career changes.

Based on the top 50 companies listed in ‘The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for 2019’, the research shows that the average age when they founded their company, or were appointed to a key role, was 39.9 years old. One key person (Founder or current CEO – or similar role) was analysed per company, except for Churchill Retirement Living (#2) and Hawksmoor (#45) where two key figures (for example, co-founders) were both analysed. 

Martin Totty was the eldest age in the list when appointed – at circa 57 years old when he was appointed in 2014 to a key role of Barbon Insurance Group, who rank at #46 in the 2019 list. At the other end of the spectrum, Scott Fletcher of ANS Group (ranked #27), was just 23 years old when he founded the company (although he later resigned in 2016, at the age of 43).

Shockingly, a huge 92% of the key figures are male (48 out of 52), with just four females listed as key figures in these top 50 companies. These included Claire Margaret Clarke at Mills & Reeve LLP (#24), Sarah Jane Tremellen at Bravissimo (#30), Julia Robertson at Blue Arrow (#32) and Michelle Harriman-Smith at Childrensalon (#34). The average age for these women when they founded or were appointed a key role in the company was 44.3 years old, compared to an average age of 39.2 years old across the 48 men – a difference of over five years.

The research also analysed the average age of the workforce across these 50 companies and found that the average age is 34.7 years old.

Stacey Ryan, Centre Manager at Oxbridge, commented:

“Our distance learning courses provide opportunities to change career path at any age, so we wanted to look into some of the most accoladed and successful companies in the UK to find out the age of people when they started their business or were appointed into a key role.

“Interestingly, forty years old was found to be the new benchmark for this type of success, showing that #startingnow at any age can be life-changing”.