To financial advisory firms strategic business planning is paramount. Whether buying, selling, building or retiring, it is essential that Financial Advisers understand their business objectives and have an effective strategy to achieve them.
- If selling - you have to have a plan and prepare preferably five years in advance. If buying - apart from the obvious one of the most important elements is to ensure the culture fit is right.
- Can underestimate the importance of the transitioning of the business whether being bought or sold.
- Financial intermediaries with established businesses have several options open to them as they plan for the future, but without a strategic plan they are less likely to achieve their goals.
- Business plans must reflect the aspirations of the business owners. I.e. what, why, how and when.
- Alternative Strategies: stay as we are – and retire and sell the business in x years’ time.
- There is increasing interest in ‘Succession & Employee Ownership Trusts’ (EOT) as an alternative to sales.
Key issues and challenges:
- Nobody who was looking to sell had any real plan despite most of the room approaching retirement.
- Lack of understanding of the intensity regarding due diligence, the only person in the room who had bought a business did no due diligence at all and bought on the basis that he knew the chap.
- Lack of awareness as to what would make their business attractive to a potential buyer.
- Lack of awareness as to where to find purchases especially for bigger businesses.
- Consider as owners what their life might be like once the business was sold and whether or not they intended to work within the business for a transitioning period.
- All seemed keen that their business would be sold to someone similar to themselves with a similar culture rather than selling out to the highest bidder.
- Generally there seemed to be no understanding of the process regarding the selling of their business nor where they could go to seek advice.
- There was much interest in the recent sale to a trust of employees by another firm not represented at the table.
- Build the business - to a target size typically measured in profitability or funds under management before selling the business.
- Other key dependencies include the ‘Shareholder Agreement’ and the issue of ‘Loan Notes’ repaying the owner(s) for their equity over a period.
Conclusions and solutions:
- It was clear that everybody would need help in order to maximise the price of their business and to sell it.
- There didn’t seem to be anybody interested in buying a business in the room but again if there was they would clearly need help.
Expert: Martyn Laverick - Soprano Consulting, John Chapman - Owen James Group
Facilitator: Brod Whiting - Joynd Up, Roderic Rennison - Rennison Consulting