Who Will Guide Your Exit?
Developing & Assessing Your Advisory Team
[fname], business owners who run their own businesses tend to wear many
hats, handling many different jobs at any given time. At some point in time,
every owner begins to realize that they need the help of professional
advisors - they simply cannot do everything by themselves. Professional
advisors come into an owner's life for a variety of reasons. Accountants and
attorneys are usually the first on the scene, followed by insurance
providers (group and personal lines) financial advisors (401(k) plans and
personal investments), as well as perhaps management consultants and
valuation professionals. Owner's build these advisory teams, sometimes with
great care but more often as the needs arise.
But what happens when a specialized need such as planning an exit arises?
Who does an owner turn to for advice in this area?
Well, given that an exit plan is going to change the nature of an owner's
relationship with his business and impact almost all areas of his personal
life, it is necessary to involve most, if not all, of your professional
advisors. To many owners this is not an attractive thought because it is
expensive and a lot to manage. The key is to identify a quarterback and to
allow that person to assist you in coordinating your other advisors to meet
the plan that you have set.
The Problem - the 'Siloed' Advisor
Most professional advisors focus in one area – their 'silo' - providing
owners with specialized expertise. In fact, many advisors need to be highly
specialized in order to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. This
makes good sense for the advisor and provides a valuable service to the
However, the exiting owner does not need an advisor who thinks in a 'silo'.
They need an advisor who acts as a consultant - someone who can bring them
through an exit process, generating a result that includes a successful
transfer of the business interest. Thereafter, the individual advisory
disciplines such as tax, legal, insurance, investment planning, etc . . .
need to be addressed.
So why is this such a large issue? Why don't all advisors simply incorporate
exit planning into the services that they provide to owners?
The Emerging Exit Planning Industry
"Exit planning" is an emerging industry that is growing in response to the
large number of U.S. Baby Boomer business owners in need of this service.
This is not to say that professional advisors have never before assisted
owners with their exits. Rather, there is a more subtle distinction. It
means that never before has an industry been built around the notion that
business owners need comprehensive plans for their exit. There are two major
points to this distinction.
First, a comprehensive plan needs to be developed for an owner to design
their eventual exit. This is a very different form of planning than business
planning and requires a process, skill set, tools and training that has not
been offered before and is more comprehensive than any single advisory
Next, there needs to be a coordination – a team - of professional
advisors who can execute upon that plan. An exit plan will include the
insights and advice ranging from business value, to tax matters, to legal
transfer, to estate planning, to insurance policies (what they insure and
how they are titled), to retirement planning – to name just a few. Within
each category there are specialty needs that require professional advisors
with exit planning experience.
Exit Planning Experience
The emerging exit planning field is attracting many different types of
advisors who want to provide this unique service to their business owner
clients. What an owner needs to discover as they enter the exit planning
process is which advisor(s) have a complete system as well as some
experience in designing exit plans.
An experienced advisor will serve as a consultant to an owner during the
planning phase and will also stay on board to help that owner execute their
plan. In both phases, planning and execution, experience counts. So
an owner needs to pay extra attention to find an advisor who has experience
in this emerging field.
Forming and Harmonizing Your Advisory Team
Once your 'lead' advisor – your quarterback - is chosen, you will need to
work with that person to coordinate your team. The team must be driven by
your instructions and follow your plan. Advisory teams can begin to fail
when there are multiple 'plans' and agendas that are being promoted.
Remember that each of your advisors values your business and may perceive
significant changes to your relationship after your exit. Be on the lookout
for advisors who put their motives ahead of yours. Your team is being put in
place to help set and achieve your goals, not theirs.
Successful Exits are Hard to Define but Easy to Predict
A successful exit is hard to define but easy to predict. This means that
every owner who tries to exit their business will have many unique
considerations and people to look after. Therefore, no two exits are alike –
each is unique to its owner and situation. Accordingly, 'success' can be
hard to define in a general sense – it is more particular to each situation.
However, with the right process and advisory team, it is easy to predict a
This simply means that if you have chosen your advisors carefully, they will
take you wherever you want to go with your exit and guide you towards a safe
arrival. Take care in assembling your team as it is here that you will be
lead down the path of a successful exit.
As always if you need some advice, you're
welcome to email me of call me here at the office at 281-993-4530.
Charles Wilson, CPA/CFF, CGMA, CBEC
Charles Wilson, LLC
307 S. Friendswood Dr, Ste B-2
Friendswood, TX 77546
Charles Wilson, CPA/CFF,
CGMA, CBEC is a Certified Business Exit Consultant and is affiliated with
Pinnacle Equity Solutions, Inc., an Exit Strategies Training and Solutions
company. Parts of the content in this email are taken from previous
Pinnacle Equity Solutions, Inc's. newsletter library and website in
accordance with Charles Wilson's certification in Pinnacle's Certification
and Membership Program. All Copyrights are the properties of Pinnacle Equity
Solutions, Inc. and Charles Wilson, LLC and their respective owners.