The Exit Planning Institute (EPI) is an education company.
We are powered by a dedicated staff, industry experts, and market leaders, that are passionate about providing top professional advisors the best industry content, ongoing practice support, and owner education resources. From humble beginnings, EPI has grown to become the exit planning market leader while staying focused and true to our mission. We are an education company that certifies and supports more than 2,600 CEPAs (and counting) as well as thousands of advisors worldwide through national, regional, chapter, and virtual education. Explore our history and make plans to play a part in our future.
“Am I truly meeting my client’s objectives?” -Peter Christman, EPI Co-Founder
In early 2001, Peter Christman, an accomplished investment banker, began to recognize that despite the successful sale of the business, his clients lacked the level of satisfaction he aimed to bring them. One of the key issues: owners did have proper planning for post-exit life. On top of that, there were many other personal, business, and financial considerations that factored in that didn’t get much attention in the transaction process. The need for a holistic approach to ‘exit’ was significant.
Christman set out to change this for his clients and the profession as a whole.
In 2003, Christman teamed up with Richard Jackim, who later wrote the book, The $10 Trillion Opportunity: Designing Successful Exit Strategies for Middle Market Business Owners, which increased industry awareness of the need for proactive exit planning and created a demand for an organization to serve as a resource to advisors working in this space.
In 2005, Peter Christman and Richard Jackim officially formed and launched a new professional education organization for advisors: The Exit Planning Institute™ (EPI). The organization was purely membership based for two years.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the organization offered training programs and in 2016, EPI discontinued non-credentialed membership so it could focus efforts and resources on those most immersed and involved in the exit and succession planning profession.
—Serving 50 advisors nationwide—
In 2007, EPI released and host the first Certified Exit Planning Advisor® (CEPA®) credentialing program. The curriculum followed the principles found in “The $10 Trillion Opportunity” and was designed to educate professional advisors who worked with business owners on the specific process for exit planning. The course exposed advisors to the diverse set of disciplines that contribute to an effective exit plan and the tools needed to execute the work. The CEPA program was a success and it began to be offered twice per year at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.
In 2008, Christopher Snider (a professional M&A advisor who later would acquire EPI) became a CEPA and, as a member became passionate about advancing the organization, which included Snider launching the first local EPI chapter (Northeast Ohio) and chairing the inaugural 2011 EPI International Conference (known today as The Exit Planning Summit).
—Serving 200 advisors worldwide—
The next evolution of EPI came in as Christman and Jackim looked to make their own transition. They first looked to the EPI membership and approached Christopher Snider. Since earning his CEPA designation in 2008, Snider had cultivated a successful private practice solely dedicated to exit planning and value growth services, fostered the largest thriving chapter in the country, and opened a small family office investment company with his business partner and son, Scott Snider (who had recently sold his landscape management company to a strategic buyer). Combining their vast experience in rapidly growing business value and their shared passion for education and helping business owners successfully transition, Snider and Snider purchased EPI in late 2012.
—Serving 350 advisors worldwide—
The next two years post-purchase represented an era of innovation and advancement for the organization and the larger exit planning profession. Recognizing the need for collaboration, mindset shifts, and a universal methodology to help advisor and owner speak the same ‘exit planning language,’ the Sniders, alongside key members, developed strategies, research, and content that could advance the industry and reframe the exit planning conversation to be less about the exit/sale and more about creating transferable business value today. These improvements included the first-of-its-kind 2013 National State of Owner Readiness™ research study and the now industry-adopted Value Acceleration Methodology™, which provided a clear process for managing exit planning engagements and leading diverse teams.
Chris Snider created and released the Value Acceleration Methodology for use within the EPI membership base. The CEPA program was adapted to incorporate and teach along this framework as well. His contribution of the Value Acceleration Methodology caused Chris Snider to be nominated and ultimately be a finalist for the AM&AA 2015 Thought Leader of the Year awards.
—Serving 700 advisors worldwide—
Gaining industry recognition from Snider’s contribution of the Value Acceleration Methodology, EPI began the next era of rapid growth and resource expansion:
Chapter Growth: The local EPI Chapter Network jumped to 16 locations serving more than 500 professionals from all corners of the country.
‘Exit Planning 101’ Course Created: A condensed one-day course, the Certificate in Exit Planning, was released and hosted 10 times across the US in collaboration with partners to help educate advisors, teams, and owners alike.
Proactive Owner Education Introduced: CEPAs began to form collaborative teams that would go on to educate owners in one-day and half-day forums (coined ‘The Owners Forum’) which provided a needed bridge between exit planning advisors and transitioning business owners.
Exit Planning Partner Program Growth: EPI’s Strategic Partner Alliance Program doubled as more industry-leading firms built strategies around collaboration and team play and found this program as an opportunity to be a value-add resource to CEPAs and business owners.
—Serving 1,200 advisors worldwide—
In 2016, Christopher Snider published the official value acceleration and exit planning handbook: Walking to Destiny: 11 Actions an Owner Must Take to Rapidly Grow Value and Unlock Wealth, written for business owners and exit planners. This written contribution to the marketplace also serves as a resource companion for the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) training program.
Snider was awarded AM&AA 2016 Thought Leader of the Year and NACVA 2016 Industry Titan “Industry Architect” honors for his book and his overall advancement of the exit planning profession.
In response to market demand, the CEPA Program expanded to offering four training programs a year, certifying and supporting more than 400 CEPAs from eight countries worldwide. Additionally, EPI Chapter Network expanded to 20 chapters and EPI’s online education platform expanded to offering free resources to virtual learners.
—Serving 1,800 advisors worldwide—
Prior to 2017, The State of Owner Readiness™ was a powerful research study that measures the business attractiveness and owner readiness on a national level. But how do national stats compare to local market realities?
In 2017, EPI (in partnership with BNY Mellon Wealth Management) completed the first-ever regional State of Owner Readiness reports in San Diego County and Greater Nashville, which led to the polling distribution, diverse partnerships, and regional research of many markets to follow:
All reports, ongoing projects, research partners & sponsors, and public content can be found at www.OwnerReadiness.com.
2017 also marked the 10TH anniversary of the CEPA designation, which was scheduled to be celebrated at the 2017 Exit Planning Summit on September 11-12, 2017 in at Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. However, the Gulf Coast of Florida (along with many surrounding regions) were impacted by Hurricane Irma on the exact dates of the Summit, so with five days to go, the Exit Planning Summit was swiftly moved to the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona and our community had a chance to come together to celebrate and raise money to support local charities in both regions.
—Now serving 15,000+ advisors worldwide—
Through the State of Owner Readiness Survey research, we have found the marketplace expanding and owners more aware than they ever have been. 67% of baby boomer business owners indicated that they want to transition their business in the next five years. Attendance at owners facing events taught by CEPAs were 100% recommended to another owner while 60% of owners would engage in exit planning if their trusted advisor took the time to educate them on the process.
Global Platform: EPI has expanded into their 15th country, 50th US State, and is now recognized by their 15th professional designation.
CEPA Program Expansion: The CEPA Program has expanded to eight training centers across the United States, and launched online programs.
Chapter Network Growth: The chapter network will experience more growth expanding to its 28th market.
Virtual Education Focus: EPI now offers dozens of webinars and virtual training options every year on exit planning-centric and industry relevant topics to help advisors stay current and educated on present trends, knowledge, and updates (while in some cases earning CE credits for limited to no cost).
Official ‘Exit Planning’ Definition: Exit planning combines the plan, concept, effort, and process into a clear, simple strategy to build a business that is transferable through strong human, structural, customer, and social capital. The future of the business owner, their family, and the business itself are addressed by exit planning through creating value today.
Exit planning is not just a plan. It is a strategy rooted in execution that grows value while expanding options so that an owner can transition the business on their terms when they are ready. It aligns the business, personal, and financial needs of the owner. Certified Exit Planning Advisors (CEPA) educate the owner on all of the exit options and enters an engagement with an exit-option-agnostic perspective as to truly serve the business owner’s diverse needs. CEPAs collaborate with a seasoned, multi-disciplinary team of professionals to support the success of the business owner and use each other’s specialties and expertise to the benefit of the project.
The Value Acceleration Methodology™ is your strategic framework for executing exit planning. It is the value management system that makes the timing of an exit irrelevant. Exit planning is laser-focused on what you can do right now to grow the value of the business and drive income. Forget the future. Focus on today. By focusing the approach on building a business with characteristics that drive value and integrating the owner’s personal and financial objectives into it now, there will be many options to exit on the owner’s timeline and terms.
These concepts are covered in depth in Snider’s book, Walking to Destiny: 11 Actions an Owner Must Take to Rapidly Grow Value and Unlock Wealth. Download the Value Acceleration Methodology origin story and case study now.
The Exit Planning Institute creates an exit planning “ecosystem,” and due to the diverse nature of exit planning, EPI has fostered a hyper-engaged exit planning community. This community includes CEPAs, other collaborative advisors, strategic alliance partners, academicians, the media, and business owners from across the globe made up of 15 countries, 44 U.S. States and representing over a dozen different professional disciplines. To serve this elite and cross-functional community on one major platform, EPI produces the best content as it relates to exit planning, succession planning, and value acceleration, provides ongoing advisor support and practice development, and creates connectivity to transitioning business owners.
The CEPA Program is the only exit planning credentialing program taught by a diverse team of 13+ experts. Why? A single advisor cannot understand every facet of exit planning with deep expertise. Each exit planning advisor has a certain expertise or service they provide within the exit planning engagement. While you certainly maintain an important role, it is critical to surround yourself with like-minded experts with complementary strengths, so you can truly serve an exiting owner’s holistic needs.
The EPI Chapter Network brings together local advisors dedicated to changing the outcome for middle market owners looking to grow, transition, or exit their businesses. Engage with the EPI Chapter Presidents from across the country.
Exit planning is a community, not a competition. Collaboration amongst advisors and partners is critical when helping a business owner build transferable value while aligning their business, personal and financial goals. CEPAs are united around one core methodology and process. They believe in one organizing principle and they share common goals. It is not a one tool fits all marketplace or solution. Good exit planning allows for the integration of many. Through these collaborative and industry-leading partners, CEPAs are able to effectively execute Value Acceleration with their business owner clients and drive results. These partners, a part of our Exit Solutions Marketplace, provide CEPAs with delivery and assessment tactics and tools, project and engagement management systems, marketing solutions and strategic advice, revenue generating opportunities, educational platforms and content, and set of unique expertise to effectively engage and help business owners in exit planning. Through this powerful community, CEPAs are changing the outcomes for business owners.