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Behind the Scenes - Family Meeting

Submitted by Lisa Fannin on Fri, 12/04/2020 - 8:00am

BEI is pleased to announce the launch of our new blog series, Behind the Scenes. In this series, we will interview various professionals that work in the area of Exit Planning, whether by supporting advisors in the work that they do or with business owners directly. Our hope is that by sharing the interesting stories and unique challenges that each of us can relate to, advisors can gain insights and learn from the expertise of their peers.  

Clarke Langrall Jr., CEPA, President and CEO of Forecast Strategic Advisors, has worked in the financial services industry for the last 45 years. Clarke is a published author of several books and articles on the topic of the importance of planning for the “ultimate” event—a successful transition by an owner from their business. Clarke is the author of the book The Underwriters Guide to the Federal Civil Service Market as well as numerous articles on owner Exit Planning.

Clarke is a past President and Chairman of the board of Forum 400, the founder of the Science and Technology Council of Maryland, and a founding member of the Baltimore Angel Investor Group.

As an experienced advisor, Clarke credits his success on his focus on the different strategies he uses to facilitate the business owner toward their goals of selling their business on their terms. In the words of John Brown, "How to run your business so you can leave it in style."

BEI: Why did you decide to work with business owners to help them exit?

Clarke: Exit Planning has been my primary focus for the 45 years I have been serving business owners. Early in my career, I primarily gave advice to owners on risk mitigation for themselves and for their businesses. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that my focus shifted to broader picture planning. These comprehensive Exit Plans highlight every issue my clients might encounter during the entire process and include recommendations to keep them on their desired timeline. By delivering more complete plans, I can suggest the best routes for my clients to take with their transition out of business and ultimately have a successful exit. My team and I have assisted hundreds of owners in monetizing their most strategic financial asset—their business.

BEI: Tell us about an unexpected challenge you have encountered working with business owners. How did it impact you or your practice and how did you overcome the problem?

Clarke: In my experience, unexpected challenges occur often when working with family-owned businesses where the founder of the business has an entirely different view of the business than the next generation of successors do. Far too often during the planning process we discover a lack of communication leads to all parties involved having very different plans for the business and goals for the future. If the communication issue is resolved early, this can be the tipping point of the entire planning process. Communication is key during any ownership transfer but introducing family dynamics makes the situation that much more emotional. We have found the best way around this issue is to hold a family meeting and have an open dialog with all parties as early as possible to ensure everyone’s goals, perspectives, and opinions are heard and aligned. Everyone’s viewpoint needs to be communicated clearly and accounted for to develop a unified path for the future of the business and for the family.

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BEI: How has your involvement with BEI impacted your practice?

Clarke: I attended a BEI Exit Planning Boot Camp with John Brown in the early 2000s. In this training, I realized John’s vision for an entirely new discipline of Exit Planning for business owners. Exit Planning filled a critical void that business owners had never properly addressed for 100+ years. John was the agent of change that brought to light the importance of planning for an ownership transfer years in advance. The Exit Planning industry has changed immensely just in the last 20 years. Previously no one could describe “Exit Planning,” and few advisor practices, if any, were focused as a discipline to the ultimate and inevitable event of selling one’s business. Kudos to John Brown and his impact on the community.

Clarke is a valued member of the BEI community and we appreciate his behind the scenes look at his practice and involvement with business owners. For follow up questions you may have or to follow his story, please connect with Clarke Langrall on LinkedIn.


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