August 31, 2023
If you are going to sell your business only once, do it right the first time! Owners cannot do it alone, so it is essential to assemble a collaborative team of M&A experts to guide you and your company through the lengthy and complex process of selling your business.
M&A Experts: The Core Four
There are four experts that are essential to creating the best possible outcome in any M&A transaction, collectively, “The Core Four”:
With any of these advisors, we highly recommend hiring experienced M&A transaction specialists that can help address and manage the many complexities of a transaction. While dentists and brain surgeons are both medical doctors with years of education, multiple advanced degrees, and extensive experience in their respective fields, we would never recommend using a dentist for brain surgery or vice versa.
Hiring the experts is not an expense; it is an investment in your success. The process starts with collaborative planning and preparation, moves though a disciplined process progression and concludes with a successful closing that exceeds the expectations of the seller. The right team can deliver much more value every step of the way via an increase in purchase price, more seller friendly terms and conditions, smaller tax bill, and/or protection from post closing issues.
Over this series of CMG Insights, we will explore the primary roles of each of the Core Four and the value that they bring to your engagement.
Wealth Management Team For Your M&A Transaction
Simplistically stated, the objective of your wealth advisory team is to a) provide long-term financial security by growing and protecting the net proceeds from a sale through prudent investment management and b) to ensure your legacy and multi-generational wealth transfers through efficient and effective estate planning.
Private Wealth Managers
The two most critical questions to address before launching a transaction process are “can I afford my desired lifestyle” and, as a result, “how much do I need from a sale to make that a reality.”
Although most business owners have an investment account with stocks and bonds, and perhaps it’s even managed by a ‘broker’, we highly recommend upgrading to a private wealth management team (“PWM”). With a significant liquidity event (such as the sale of your business), a sophisticated investment strategy becomes both more appropriate and more accessible. Prior to a sale, your PWM team can create a comprehensive financial analysis that considers your short- and long-term goals, tax considerations, and other factors. This important analysis takes careful planning and should be completed well in advance of a sale and then revisited often.
Following the closing, your PWM will help explore prudent diversification strategies and can offer access to non- traditional investments such as private equity participations, real estate assets, international opportunities and hedge funds. PWMs can also help you explore the possibility of establishing a family office to more proactively manage significant wealth.
Trust & Estate Planners
When planning for your legacy, longer term trust and estate strategies become even more important.
What happens to your estate when you pass? Are there certain people or specific charities that you want to support over time? Are there general philanthropic goals that you want to instill in future generations? These are all difficult topics to navigate that an expert trust & estate planners can easily address.
There are plenty of options from the ‘alphabet soup’ of T&E structures (i.e., GRATs, SLATs, IDGTs, etc.) and proactive planning strategies (like gifting low basis company stock) that can make a real difference in minimizing taxes and optimizing the generational transfer of wealth to family and/or personal passions.
These tax minimalization and asset protection strategies are most effective the earlier they are planned, so start at least six to nine months, if not several years, in advance of a sale.
Building Your M&A Advisory Team
One of the best ways to build your M&A Core Four team is to solicit references from your existing trusted advisors. Every M&A professional has a small group of trusted experts with whom they regularly collaborate and can help you maximize the outcome of your ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
For more than 35 years and having completed hundreds of transactions, CMG has partnered with a wide range of experts, and we would be happy to make tailored recommendations for your specific circumstance as you build your Core Four team.
Whether you are considering an exit in the near-term or are just curious to learn more about what options exist, we would love to connect, learn more about your company and truly understand your objectives. We can certainly share our insights on the market and help you consider what might make sense for you and the legacy of your business.