How CPAs Benefit from the CEPA Designation

A $50 Million Opportunity for the Most Trusted Advisor

How CPAs Benefit from the CEPA Designation - A $50 Million Opportunity for the Most Trusted Advisor


Business owners work with a variety of advisors, consultants, and coaches in their business development and exit planning processes. The CPA is considered by many business owners as their most trusted advisor. Given this and given how integrated they typically are with the business owner and their company, CPAs are put in an advantageous position to provide owners with the guidance and support needed to successfully transition their company. It is likely that the business owner will turn to the CPA for guidance, allowing the overall accounting firm to open a new service line in exit planning. A potential significant return for the firm, leading them to deepen their relationship with clients and their companies.

The $50 Million Opportunity

Exit Planning provides CPAs with roughly a $50 Million opportunity for growth. According to national statistics, 60% of your corporate or owner clients are Baby Boomers. As our State of Owner Readiness Survey shows, 50% of Baby Boomer owners are looking to exit in the next 1-5 years. Through research done by our Owner Engagement Members, we discovered that 10% of these owners have already started exit planning and 30% will never do anything at all. This leaves 60% that are interested in exit planning and have yet to begin the process. Of that 60%, half of these owners are “ready now” and will actively do something with you if you approached them in the right way. Of those companies, 20% are lower middle market companies, making between $5 million and $100 million in revenue.

Look at it this way:

Say the accounting firm had 2,000 business owner clients
60% are Baby Boomers – 1200 clients
50% are looking to exit in 1-5 years – 600 clients
Middle 60% are interested in exit planning – 360 clients
50% are ready to exit now – 180 clients
20% of those owners are lower middle market companies ($5 million – $100 million in revenue) – 36 clients

Out of your 2,000 business owner clients, 36 provide an opportunity for around $30 million. The average company sells for $8 million. Multiservice accounting firms have multiple opportunities with this $8 million company.

The following fees are likely while working with the $8 million sale:

Accounting – $40,000
Financial Services – $80,000
M&A – $500,000
Exit Planning – $140,000
Total = $760,000
$760,000 x 36 clients = $27 million

The larger your total client base, the larger the financial opportunity exit planning provides. Say you have 5,000 owner clients; if you follow this math you will have a $54 million revenue stream from conducting exit planning with just 72 of those clients.

CPA: The Most Trusted Advisor

As a client’s most trusted advisor, a CPA has valuable insight into their business practices and financial needs. According to Scott Snider, “Given the CPA is the most trusted advisor it is likely that the owner will turn to you, if they have not already, and ask the question, ‘I’d like to sell my company can you help me?’ Question for the CPA is: can you? Are you going to be prepared with the process, the tools and resources, and the right team to make that a massive success for your existing client? I would challenge you today and say you are likely ill prepared for this question”. To gain significant knowledge about the exit planning process and how it impacts business owners, CPAs should invest in themselves and obtain the CEPA designation.  

Scott Snider says, “A CEPA credential holder has been trained inside of the Value Acceleration Methodology. It allows an advisor to move from transactional work and conversations to more holistic solution-based and consultative conversations. We turn an exit conversation into a business strategy conversation including a deeper personal connection. This allows the advisor to look at an owner and their company more holistically. How ready is the company? How personally prepared is the owner? What does the owner’s personal financial plan look like? By approaching the owner this way, we connect much better and deeper to the owner and potentially the owner’s leadership team and family. This allows the CPA to develop a much more entangled relationship”.

A CPA with a CEPA designation gains more than an additional four letters after their name in an email signature. The Value Acceleration Methodology is a proven process to help an owner rapidly build value and sell at a premium. This means the firm gains revenue opportunities across the board. In helping your client’s get the most out of their exit plan you will build a strong relationship with them as well as the future owner of the company. Scott says, “You secure that relationship for generations to come because you invested in them through utilize the CEPA process”.

Learn how to expand your business, build lasting client relationships, and open yourself up to a $50 million opportunity by attending our CEPA Masterclass and our Accounting Firm Webinar Series.