How to Choose a Good Business Succession Planning Advisor

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What is your dream? How and when do you plan to retire? Who will take the reigns of your business when you do? These are questions that are of utmost importance to you. They should also be of utmost importance to the business exit and succession advisor that you employ.

Choosing to be a business owner and a business exit and succession advisor are two of the most important decisions you will make during your lifetime. Hardly anybody gets married to someone by chance. Why do people allow their business exit and succession advisor to be a person selected by chance? It is important that this does not happen when choosing a exit and succession advisor.

What are Business Exit & Succession Advisors?

Exit and Succession advisors are people who make a living giving and implementing business exit and succession plans, hence the term exit & succession advisor. This is where the expectations and similarities end. It is a fact that exit and succession advisors are not all created equal. At one end of the spectrum is the advisor who has little business exit and succession planning background, little education and little experience, and does the job as a way of avoiding low wage work. At the other end of the spectrum is the exit and succession advisor who has a very solid background in exit and succession planning education in the field and decades of experience.

Who Should Retain a Business Exit Succession Advisor?

Today many people choose to be their own exit and succession advisor. The Internet and prevalence of information make it more practical for some people to plan their own ext or succession. This is fine for the people who can actively research and manage their exit and succession plans. However, this is not recommended for people owning businesses and properties. Most people do not have a solid financial background or experience to make sound business exit and succession plans affecting their businesses. Others who may have the expertise and experience may not have the time or desire to do so. This is not uncommon. For both classes of people, having a exit and succession advisor assist is a wise decision.

How to Choose a Good Business Succession Planning Advisor

It is important to choose a exit and succession advisor that you trust, and will be effective for you. Choosing an advisor is a very important decision and it should not be taken lightly.

The best and most efficient way to start your search is to ask questions, do your own research and listen to people who have been there. Attend association programs on the subject and seek the advice of colleagues who have participated in the exit & succession process.

Once you have obtained advice from an appropriate person, further research and thought is necessary. First, call your list of potential exit and succession advisor. As part of your conversation, ask them specifically what their credentials are, how long have they been in this line of work, what professionals they have on staff, and what they charge.

It is best to have a exit and  succession advisor who has an education in a related field such as business, accounting, finance, or management. None or little education in this area can be indicative of a poor advisor. Experience and longevity are also critical indicators in the business exit and succession advisor industry.

Support and professional staff are also indicative of an effective and efficient exit and succession advisor. This is not to say advisors practicing without a staff are not effective or efficient. However, a professional staff will compliment the quality and timing of the service with which an advisor will be able to provide you. A solo practitioner may take several months to issue a plan to the client. When a practitioner has a staff, the process can be greatly expedited because the practitioner can delegate different aspects such as valuations to one staff member, complex tax issue research to another, and routine legal document drafting to another. The advisor can then add his contribution and bundle the package in a short time.

Last, but not least, it is highly recommended that you set up a meeting with the exit and succession advisor. Go prepared for the meeting. Do this by having some knowledge of your objectives. This will enable you to ask specific, relevant questions.

At the initial meeting, get to know the advisor as an individual. Are you compatible with the person? Do you like this individual? Do you trust this individual? Compatibility is very important in a client/advisor relationship; without it, hiring the business exit and succession advisor may be more stressful then not having one at all.


How to Choose a Good Business Succession Planning Advisor is one of the most important decisions you will make during your life. Your goals will be affected by the performance of the advisor you choose. Finding the individual you can work with will take some time, but once it is done, your financial and retirement situation will be better off.

Posted by Brian s. Mazar, CBI, MBA
American Fortune

M&A Firm