You’re Already Doing Exit Planning. Why Not Reap the Benefits?

Submitted by Elizabeth J Mower on Wed, 07/25/2018 - 6:00am
A person writing in a brown-leather-bound notebook. The word PLANNING appears in all caps and has a red underline.

The thing that surprises advisors most about Exit Planning is that the most successful business advisors are already doing it in their core practices. CPAs, financial advisors, lawyers, insurance agents, and others practice elements of Exit Planning in their daily routines. When these advisors realize that their core work and Exit Planning are complementary, it opens new avenues for them. Consider the story of Nancy Goethe.

Realizing and Reaping Exit Planning Benefits

Nancy Goethe was a successful CPA. After cutting her teeth at two of the largest CPA firms in the United States, she started her own firm, Goethe & Associates. Over 25 years, she had grown her firm from a three-woman startup into a 40-person enterprise. Her firm had built a reputation as the go-to firm for complex tax-minimization and auditing for mid-sized businesses in her area, and had experienced year-over-year growth.

Over the past two years, Nancy noticed that some of her older clients had begun retiring from and selling their businesses. A few of them asked her firm to assist them with getting their businesses’ taxes in order. But once the sales were completed, she lost them as clients, save for a couple of personal tax returns here and there. While Nancy wasn’t yet in the red, she started to get concerned, as her base of long-term clients began to shrink.

Nancy also discovered that some of her younger CPAs had blind spots about the nuances of working with business owners. While these junior CPAs were bright and ambitious, she knew that she and her two managers, Juana and Kelly, didn’t have enough time to mentor them to the levels she wanted. The business owners she worked with almost always asked to speak with a senior CPA regarding their businesses’ numbers, and Nancy wanted to change that. She wanted her younger associates to have the confidence and trustworthiness to work with clients beyond basic returns and audits.

One day, Nancy’s very first and largest client walked into her firm. Suzie and Dick Mangrove had owned a regional construction company for 35 years. They had used Goethe & Associates since Nancy opened its doors. They told her that they were talking about retiring and had had a few meetings with their financial advisor and BEI-trained Exit Planning Advisor, Claude. Claude told them that he had several CPA firms that could help them address tax issues related to their exits, but the Mangroves told Nancy that they wanted to talk with her about how she could help them first, because loyalty was important to them.

After talking with the Mangroves about what their Exit Planning Advisor suggested they do, Nancy knew her firm could help them. In fact, she knew that her firm did everything that the Mangroves needed a CPA firm to do to best position their company to pay as little in taxes as possible after they sold the business. The Mangroves were pleased and urged her to contact Claude. After speaking with him, Nancy became a part of his Advisor Team for the Mangroves.

Flash forward five years. The Mangroves have successfully retired. The new owners of their company, a group of top management employees, use Goethe & Associates for all of their tax and auditing services. Nancy has become a Certified Exit Planner through BEI, and her management team is using Exit Planning software to train younger associates to help business owners address issues relevant to Exit Planning. Business is booming because her current clients now use her Exit Planning services, and new clients looking for Exit Planning services love that Nancy can do both Exit Planning and CPA work. The attrition rate Nancy had worried about five years ago was a distant memory.

Once Nancy acquainted herself with Exit Planning, she realized that she was already doing most of the things Exit Planning required in her core practice. In the end, Exit Planning brought four additional benefits to her core practice.

Extends the Reach of the Core Practice    

For most Exit Planning Advisors, Exit Planning is not a brand-new enterprise. Instead, it’s an extension of the core work they know well and have had success with throughout their careers. Nancy’s firm had been doing its core work well and was respected in the community. Yet, that wasn’t enough to assure that her firm would keep growing at the pace she wanted.

Once she realized that her firm did most of the things expected from an Exit Planning Advisor, she saw an opportunity. Exit Planning created a new pool of prospects for her core services, and her firm’s outstanding work as a CPA firm created a touchstone of trustworthiness in her Exit Planning services. In short, her core work and Exit Planning work fed off each other.

Encourages Smooth Transfers of Knowledge to Young Advisors

A common challenge for veteran advisors is smoothly transitioning their professional knowledge to the next generation of advisors. Young advisors usually have the ambition and intelligence to be successful, but they often need guidance and experience to get there. Veteran advisors may not have all the time or resources they need to mentor all of their younger advisors, which can cause problems down the road. Exit Planning Advisors can address this issue through BEI’s Exit Planning software, EPIC.

As an example, once Nancy had access to EPIC, she spoke with a group of five advisors from different professions, each with 20 years of experience. She wanted to show them why they should join her Advisor Team and asked them to come up with as many recommendations as they could for a business owner looking to exit the business. After two hours, those five advisors came up with nine excellent recommendations. Nancy then entered the information about the owner into EPIC. In less than a minute, EPIC produced 25 suggested recommendations, including the nine recommendations the five experts had suggested.

With the right software system, Nancy compiled the ideas and strategies that worked for her clients in one place, quickly and easily. She could tap into the knowledge of other successful Exit Planning Advisors to discover strategies that she and her managers would have never considered. This allowed them to create a library of knowledge as they did their routine work and easily share that knowledge with younger advisors. Training videos gave younger associates the baseline knowledge they needed so that Nancy could focus on helping them apply that knowledge. Younger advisors could then use EPIC as a sandbox to try new ideas and supplement their inherent knowledge with expert experience. Her access to Exit Planning software helped her transfer knowledge smoothly.

Streamlines Core Work While Building a Book of Business

By implementing Exit Planning and EPIC into her core practice, Nancy streamlined her core work. She always knew where she and her associates were in their various Exit Planning projects. That increased accountability ensured that her associates completed their work timely and correctly, and helped point out any laggards, which she and her management team could help catch up. The speed and accuracy with which her firm completed its tasks increased its influence, allowing Nancy to build a bigger book of business than she could with her core services alone. This also gave her younger associates a head-start in terms of the clients with which they worked and built trust.

Differentiates the Advisor’s Practice

Before Nancy installed Exit Planning, there was only one Exit Planning Advisor in her area. Adding Exit Planning had given his firm a service that no one else provided, even though many of the business owners in the area wanted it. After Nancy joined Claude’s Advisor Team to help the Mangroves, she realized that he had so many Exit Planning prospects, he had to turn some of them away.

Once Nancy added Exit Planning, she saw an uptick in clientele. She and Claude could refer clients to each other without competing with one another and still provide services that no one else was providing.

If you’re a successful business advisor, you’re likely already doing some of the things that make the top Exit Planning Advisors successful. Why not start benefiting from the things you’re already doing, with help from BEI?  

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