Are All of These Advisors Exit Planners?

Are All of These Advisors Exit Planners?


As the need for exit planning becomes more prevalent to business owners, the need for high caliber advisors rises as well. Over the past three years, the exit planning marketplace has experienced growth and change as it responds to the business owner’s needs. Those needs, in part, call for advisors to reinvent themselves into something more: The advisor of the future. A holistic business advisor. Not an accountant, not a wealth manager, not an investment banker or attorney. But more than that. A true and trusted advisor that an owner can turn to for high-quality business advice.

Advice that could be around a new product they are launching, an investment in real estate, how to rapidly grow value in their business, an employee development program or how to align their financial plan with their personal goals in life over the next 20 years. The advisor of the future has the competences to address all types of questions directly with their own expertise or indirectly through an expert on their collaborative team. As we see advisors transform themselves by becoming Certified Exit Planning Advisors, we see them embrace their training and new knowledge in three major ways.

The first group of CEPAs calls themselves the “Owner Engagers and Collaborators.”  These advisors utilize their training and knowledge to have deeper and more holistic conversations with business owners around actively planning for their exit by utilizing value acceleration as a business strategy. These advisors are becoming more entangled with their clients’ lives. Learning more about their client’s company, their personal/financial strategy and what other passions they have in life outside of their business. By doing this, they uncover owners’ needs and with a collaborative team can recommend the right advisor to work with, typically a fellow CEPA.

The next group is the “Triggering Eventers”. These advisors are certainly utilizing their education to better engage owners and run collaborative teams, but they are going a step further and are primarily conducting the Triggering Event Engagement. This engagement is a combination of a strategic range of value valuation correlated to an enterprise value assessment. An assessment of the intangible factors in both business, financial and personal aspects of the owner and their company. Once that engagement is done, they are typically handing off the management of the engagement to a fellow CEPAs, a Value Advisor.

The last group, the “Value Advisors,” go the full length and manage the entire process for the clients. They conduct Triggering Events, they manage the clients exit strategy through the Prepare Gate in the methodology (and charge a monthly retainer to do so) and when ready, will help the client choose an exit path and begin to execute that path through their collaborative network of investment bankers, private equity groups, ESOP advisors or any other option they may choose.

There are two things that all three types of these advisors have in common:

  • First, they are all CEPAs. Trained in the same methodology, believing in the same organizing principles and all going after a common goal.
  • Secondly, they are all venturing towards becoming a business advisor by having a collaborative network that can serve the owner in various ways and, more importantly, by becoming an educator. Someone who educates the owner before, during and after their exit.

However, the challenging question to navigate in the marketplace from some is, are all three types of CEPAs exit planners? Some believe the answer is no. But it depends on your definition of an exit planner. For the naysayers, they define an exit planner by the traditional early definition. An exit planner is an advisor conducting exit planning work, being paid to do so, the traditional quarterback of the team executing a plan for exit. But if you look at what the market needs today, and what the business owner wants, an exit planner needs to be much more than that.

EPI defines exit planners as holistic business advisors. Someone who can educate owners on the process of exit planning. A person who can align the business, personal and financial goals of the owners. An advisor who can also align the owner, their teams and their family.  An advisor who may do the exit planning work directly and get paid to do so or may not. And if they do not do the planning themselves, they have a robust, trusted and collaborative network of advisors that can be introduced to the owner.

In 2018, baby boomer business owners are reaching their mid-70s and we will begin to see the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world. These owners will experience in their business and personal lives they have never navigated before. They will need business advisors. They will need CEPAs.


About Exit Planning Institute:

EPI LogoThe Exit Planning Institute (EPI) is an education company that provides exit planning education to advisors and middle market business owners.  We view exit planning as a strategy, not an event.

EPI leads the professional services profession with the best industry content, ongoing support, and owner education platform, all of which align with our mission: Change the outcome.

Only 2 out of every 10 businesses that come to market actually sell.  We want to increase the number of saleable businesses.

Only 30% of family businesses successfully transition to the second generation, only 12% transfer to the third, and the success rates diminish from there.  We want to improve those intergenerational transitions.

Of those that succeed in the sale of their business, 75% experience “profound regret” within one year of exiting their business.  We want to understand why and create strategies that achieve profound success, wealth, and satisfaction.

EPI is an education company, powered by an elite community of top advisors and owners, all focused toward creating a valuable, transferable future for the business marketplace.