Be the Quarterback of an Owner’s Advisory Team

Be the Quarterback of an Owner’s Advisory Team


The 2022 NFL season kicks off today! To celebrate the beginning of another season of professional football, learn how a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) acts as an owner’s quarterback during their business exit. 

Lead the Team on the Field

The football game is about to begin; 11 players break from their huddle and run out onto the field. They take their positions at the line of scrimmage, the center has the ball and is ready to snap to the quarterback. The quarterback’s voice echoes through the crowd, “Blue forty-two. Set. Hike!” The team instantly knows what to do. The play has been called and they run to their locations on the field. Linemen block the defensive line, wide receivers dodge the opposing team, and run far down the field as the quarterback prepares to throw.

Every player on a football team plays an important role and ultimately provides significant value to the overall team. Some players run the ball to score, others are experts at catching the ball, and some block the opposing team. The quarterback is responsible for throwing the ball to open players on their team. They lead the team to ensure that all players work towards a unified goal. The team has both short-term goals: get a first down, move the ball down the field, and score touchdowns, as well as long-term goals: win the game, win their division, and ultimately win the Super Bowl.

Lead the Owner’s Team

Similarly, every advisor on an owner’s team is essential and serves a specific purpose. The core transition advisory team for a business should contain, at minimum, an attorney, a CPA, a financial advisor, and a growth consultant. At a minimum, one of these core advisors should hold the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) credential. This team should be extended with functional specialists that assist the owner when needed. These advisors can include M&A advisors such as an investment banker or business broker, an estate planning attorney, an insurance and risk advisor, a commercial banker, and a family business advisor.  

The CEPA acts like a quarterback in that they ensure all members of the team are working towards the owner’s target goals: both short-term and long-term. Short-term goals can include minimizing employee turnover, improving structural capital, or growing their customer base. While long-term goals include year-over-year growth, improvements to EBITDA, and ultimately successfully exiting their business.     

Scan the Field for a Receiver 

Immediately after the center snaps the ball, the quarterback begins to scan the field for an open player. Maybe it is the wide receiver on the 20-yard line, perhaps the running back makes his way toward the quarterback for a handoff, or maybe the quarterback has to run the ball themselves because no one on the team is open. During this brief moment of planning, the quarterback views, analyzes, and ranks all of their options before initiating the play. In some cases, they may have planned for one option, but another, better, option presents itself on the field. 

Analyze All Options

A CEPA conducts a similar analysis of options while engaging with their business owner clients. Although, in this case, the options are an owner’s exit options. According to our most recent State of Owner Readiness Report, 68% of business owners in Colorado are unfamiliar with their exit options. A CEPA not only educates an owner on their available exit options but also assists in selecting the option that would best benefit both the owner and the business’s success after the transition. 

While all business exits have their share of risk associated with them, much like plays on a football field, you significantly increase your chances of a successful strategy by analyzing all options.      

Make it to the End Zone

There are 15 seconds left on the game clock. Your team is down by 6, it’s third down, and the game is riding on the success of your next and likely final play of the game. The quarterback spots an open receiver at the 10-yard line. He backs up to pass, dodges a tackle, and throws. The ball spirals across the field. Soaring over the 30-yard line, then the 20, and finally lands right in the hands of the receiver. He takes the ball and runs towards the end zone. The defense exerts all their remaining energy trying to force the receiver to the ground, but he runs. He sprints into the end zone as the opposing team falls aimlessly in his wake, barely missing his legs by inches. He scores the touchdown and does a dance of celebration. The quarterback jumps in the air as his pass results in victory for his team.  

Reach the Owner’s Goals

A CEPA leads an owner’s transition advisory team from the beginning. They are instrumental in building value in the business, incorporating the owner’s personal, business, and financial goals into their plan, and implementing the owner’s desired exit option. A CEPA sees the business transition through to the end and ensures that the owner’s preferred outcome is met. 

Much like a quarterback, a CEPA helps guide the owner’s team down the field towards the end zone: the exit. While a quarterback helps their team score a touchdown, a CEPA helps owners get the most value out of their business during their exit. However, unlike a quarterback, a CEPA can continue to provide value even after the “game” has ended. Since CEPAs holistically manage an owner’s wealth and business value, they are able to provide advice well after the sale of their business. We refer to this as the Five Stages of Value Maturity

Learn more about how to successfully serve on an owner’s transition advisory team in our infographic. 

Discover if the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) Program is right for you. Request information about CEPA here. 


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