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Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold 

Submitted by John Brown on Fri, 05/14/2021 - 8:00am
Exit Planning experise

Angus Smith only learned his financial planning client, Johann Dietrich, had sold his company when he received an invitation to Dietrich’s retirement party. Rather than feeling flattered, Angus was a bit miffed. He’d assumed that Johann trusted him implicitly and consulted him about all his important financial matters. He wondered why Johann hadn’t even mentioned a sale.  

Mild irritation quickly evolved into flat-out offended when Angus discovered that Johann had invested the sale proceeds of over $10 million with the investment banking firm’s wealth advisory office. Johann explained his choice this way, “Sorry Angus, but the investment bankers did such a great job selling my business, I decided to give them a shot at investing the proceeds.”  

Angus is not the first—and certainly not the last—advisor to find that he’d been ignored and eventually replaced when a long-time client decides to exit their business. Selling owners often turn to new, experienced advisors to represent them in what is likely the most consequential financial and business decision of their lives—the exit from their businesses. It is not at all unusual for these owners to continue with newer advisor relationships especially when their long-time advisors have not been involved in the planning and execution of their exits. 

Angus eventually realized that Johann had not been disloyal. Instead, Johann had no reason to think that Angus had any expertise to contribute to his plans to exit his business. Angus also realized Johann was right: Angus didn’t have the expertise necessary to help Johann plan and achieve a successful business exit. He didn’t have the knowledge or the tools to help his owner-clients in the most important financial transaction of their lives. 

When BEI asks advisors why they’ve decided to attend our Exit Planning Boot Camp, about half answer “lack of knowledge or experience.” 

As Agnus looked at his client list, he recognized that he risked losing other clients if he did nothing. He vowed never to lose another great client due to his lack of knowledge and decided to learn about Exit Planning in order to provide an additional skill set to his client offering. 

As Angus thought about his decision, he had numerous questions: 

  • What, exactly, is involved in business Exit Planning? 
  • What role could he play in it? 
  • How would he begin conversations with his clients about their plans for their future with and without their businesses? 

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There are a number of organizations that offer training in various aspects of business Exit Planning. Angus looked for an organization that offered a comprehensive, systematic, and proven approach to Exit Planning as well as information on how to effectively market his newfound Exit Planning expertise. He never again wanted to be frustrated by his inability to help his owner-clients or find out that a client made a major financial or ownership decision without him. In short, he wanted to be the most trusted advisor for every one of his owner-clients.  

When Angus came across BEI’s menu of services and support, he realized that had he engaged in any one of its three learning tracks (Associate Membership, Exit Planning Boot Camp Livestream, and The Advanced Exit Planning Series), he would have been in a position to help Johann and would still have Johann as a client. He would have become Angus’ most trusted advisor.  

How many of your clients are nearing a business exit? Are you capable of helping them? What is your biggest challenge? Are you reluctant to reach out to owners for fear of not knowing what to say or do or how to help?  

Having the knowledge of Exit Planning and a process you can use to implement right away with clients you are already working with is just the first step in representing owners in their transition out of their businesses. Incorporating this process into your practice not only strengthens the relationship with your client but also expands the work you do with them to include long-term planning and helping them to achieve their goals. 

Takeaways 

  • Avoid the risk and frustration of losing clients because you believe you can’t help them.

  • Helping owners plan for their future positions you as their lead advisor 

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