Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Exit Planning Doomed to Fail Without Effective Collaboration

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at the CICBV 2013 Eastern Regional Conference on the issue of business valuation and exit planning in light of the unprecedented transfer of business wealth expected over the coming decade. [1]

Our panel, moderated by Bill Vienneau, Partner at WBLI, Chartered Accountants in Halifax, consisted of Doug Bruce, VP Research at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Trevor Allibon, Manager Subordinate Financing at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and myself.

Doug discussed some of the recent CFIB survey results in the area of business succession.  Trevor addressed some of the transition financing options available to business owners.  My focus was on the role of the Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) in educating and assisting business owners through the business transition process.

Some of my main messages to CBVs included: the need to educate business owners on the importance of starting the exit planning process early; how business valuations and value enhancement play an integral role in exit planning; and the importance of CBVs collaborating with other like minded professional advisors to guide business owners through the transition process.

Collaboration among a team of professional advisors is crucial in exit planning since no one professional has the expertise to address in detail all of the issues facing business owners with what may be the biggest transition in a business owner’s life.  Of critical importance for business owners is finding specialists from various disciplines that put the business owner’s interests and goals above all else.

Exit planning is very multi-disciplinary and no one understands this more than a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) with the Exit Planning Institute (EPI).  The EPI was formed in 2005 to bring together business brokers, investment bankers, CPAs/accountants, lawyers/attorneys, estate planners, valuation advisors, financial advisors, management consultants and other family business advisors.  Members of the EPI draw upon their combined expertise to better serve the needs of small and mid-sized business owners worldwide.  The common thread uniting these different professionals is their commitment to helping clients exit their companies successfully. [2]

A team of professional advisors can provide real value for the business owner throughout the exit planning process.  According to "RBC Business Succession Planning: Your Essential Road Map", assistance from many of the following professionals will likely be required at some point in the process:
  1. CPA (accountant)
  2. Financial planner / investment advisor
  3. Business valuator
  4. Insurance professional
  5. Lawyer (corporate, tax, estate, M&A)
  6. Family business advisor / facilitator
  7. Commercial banker
  8. M&A professional / business broker
Knowing when to call upon experienced professionals to ensure that the plan is technically sound and will meet the identified goals is critical.  Over the coming weeks, I will outline the role that each of the above noted professional advisors can play in assisting business owners through the exit planning process.

If you have any questions regarding business valuation or the exit planning process in general, contact us at


1.  https://cicbv.ca/events/cicbv-2013-eastern-regional-conference/


  1. Jason, great points. I would also say that it is vital that the current advisors to active business owners let their clients know that it takes 2-4 years to make a business saleable. Then you can start exit planning with the team you suggest.

    And to get to the decision to make the company saleable, the owners often have to come to terms with many emotional issues. That work should also be done - asking and answering many critical and confusing questions about an owner's next act, what it means to sell, what it will mean to move on, what legacy they want to leave, how they will be perceived by their employees and industry colleagues. This first step often stops all next steps if no one helps owners rationalize what it all means to them.

    Our books on how to make a business saleable help owners be ready for the rest of the professionals on your list, downstream of these decisions. We offer a free quiz on our website... Is Your Business Saleable

  2. Selling is 90% emotional 10% transactional -- most intermediaries have this reversed and miss out on helping lots of business owners find the end before the end finds them.

    Loraine's books on preparing a business for sale are excellent -- should be mandatory reading for every business owner.