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Surrounding Yourself With the Right Team During an Exit Strategy

The Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals
April 2, 2018

Howard Klein, CPA, MS 

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In our March article, we discussed business exit strategies and how a lack of planning could affect the success of your plan. In this article, we are taking a deeper dive into how you can achieve your goals by surrounding yourself with the right team. To ensure the future of your business, you need a group of advisors, such as an accountant, lawyer, investment banker, and financial planner, to help you maximize value and ultimately achieve success.

Trusted Advisor

Business owners often find that developing and executing an exit strategy is personal, difficult, and emotional. Essentially, it takes them away from focusing on what counts – running their business. Identifying a trusted advisor, such as an accountant, early in the process is vital and should be one of the first steps. As an advisor, the primary goal during an exit strategy is to provide guidance and support - allowing the business owner to focus on the day-to-day operations of their business.

Acting as your quarterback, your advisor will help you stay focused. They will see the big picture; they will be by your side and will guide you through the process, which has many moving parts, timelines, and responsibilities.

Your advisor can help guide you through the first critical step - to get all the owners on the same page. When an organization has several too many owners, it is important that the leader understands the boundaries that would produce acceptable terms for a sale. This would include retained interest, valuation, ongoing employment, tax considerations, and new duties and responsibilities. All too often, when ownership is not aligned in their thinking, a great deal of money and hard work is squandered as a transaction falls apart.

Collaborative Approach

No one can do it alone. Time has proven that success is achieved with collaboration and by soliciting the help of other qualified professionals.

  • Attorney: Having the right attorney working with you can make the sale move along more smoothly. Typically, an attorney whose practice focuses on merger and acquisition has the ability to speak the same language and, therefore, expedite the closing.
  • Investment Banker: Equally as important is finding the right fit of investment banker. You want a firm that will lead you through all of the decisions you need to make, has insight on the industry in which you operate, and has connections to the right buyers (even with an auction approach). You also need to understand the technical complexity of your business and make sure the banker is comfortable. Feeling the right connection will make the transaction much more productive.
  • Investment Advisor: An investment advisor or financial planner should also be a part of your overall strategy. While your team of advisors is there to ensure you are meeting your business goals, it is best to work with an investment advisor to ensure that your business exit strategy supports your personal goals post-transaction.

Aligning your business with the right team of advisors that believe in the collaborative approach is going to lead you to success.

Sounding Board

People often think that accountants and other advisors tell clients what to do. In reality, a true advisor listens, asks the right questions, and provides guidance. By truly understanding the needs and wants of a client, the frustrations that come along the way, and what is keeping them up at night, an experienced professional is able to align the client with their goals – and deliver a successful business exit.

There are a number of options for a successful exit, including an external succession such as an investment by an outside party. While this approach to the marketplace is a good strategy, it can be an intimidating process. Business owners often find themselves across the table from experienced people who buy and sell every day. When contemplating this strategy, it is crucial to surround yourself with the right team of qualified trusted advisors who will help level the planning field.

Perspective

Citrin Cooperman works with business owners every day throughout all phases of their business life cycle, from startup to exit. As trusted advisors to our clients, we provide a full range of the foundational work of similar firms, such as tax and accounting. We also go beyond these to ascertain the specific goals and needs of each of our clients, and offer customized solutions that fit those needs.

JOIN US:

Join us on Thursday, May 24, 2018, at the Fairview Country Club from 8:00am – 10:00am for an exclusive opportunity to hear from the business advisors of Citrin Cooperman who are intimately involved with business exit strategies. Moderated by Alan Badey, regional managing partner at Citrin Cooperman, the seminar panelists include: Howard Klein, partner and Trust and Estate Practice co-leader; Sylvie Gadant, partner and Transaction Advisory Practice leader; Steve Ronan, principal and Strategy and Business Transformation Practice leader; and Mandeep Trivedi, principal and Valuation Advisory Services Practice leader. For additional details or to register for this complimentary seminar sponsored by Citrin Cooperman and XPX Exit Planning Exchange, please contact Laura Di Diego at ldidiego@citrincooperman.com.

About The Author

Howard Klein, CPA, MS, is a tax partner in Citrin Cooperman’s White Plains office with more than 30 years of experience in the areas of tax, financial, estate, and succession planning. His clients include closely held businesses and business owners in a diverse array of industries as well as high net worth individuals. Howard can be reached at 914.949.2990 or at hklein@citrincooperman.com. Citrin Cooperman is a full-service accounting and consulting firm with 10 locations on the East Coast.