Selling your accountancy practice ranks up there as one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. It is not an easy decision to make unless it is forced upon you by personal circumstances such as ill health, the ill health of someone else or death. Whatever the reason, we are here to help and guide you through the maze of decisions that need to be made.
Your first contact will be with your broker. This is to establish what it is that you want to achieve from the sale. Do you want to sell to the highest bidder, to the one with the “best fit” or to the one that can move the quickest. The broker will then need to find out about your practice, the history, the current size, how many staff, what accountancy systems are used, etc. This would normally entail filling in a questionnaire. Time scale for the sale will be decided upon together with how a sale can be structured.
The next meeting will be with potential buyers. The broker will aim to get a number of buyers for you to interview for suitability. A good broker will arrange these meetings for you and will give you some guidance on how to conduct them. The buyers will need to know what kind of deal you want, when you want the indicative offers to be in and when you want to complete the deal. This should be discussed with your broker beforehand so that when you meet with the buyers you are in control of the meeting and you run the meeting on your terms irrespective of how many times the buyer has bought before or how large their turnover is. Your broker will put you in the driving seat.
All practices being sold will have a first meeting with a buyer. If the person you meet at the first meeting is not the person/people that will be looking after your clients, then it is important to book another meeting to get to know the people that will have the contact with your clients.
For larger firms looking to buy, it is not uncommon for the firm’s representative to be the strategist of the firm, they will be looking for synergies and commonalities with regards to how your practice compares to their practice. The more things that you have in common the more likely it is that the integration of the two firms will go well and the higher the retention of clients. Typically, this person will not be the one looking after any of your clients, but they will decide if the firm wants to continue with negotiating the purchase of your fees. This meeting is normally held on neutral grounds organised by the vendor. Your broker will explain the format.
For smaller practices, you can expect to have an indicative offer put forward by a buyer at this stage. For the larger practices, ie above £500k, then there is normally another meeting where the vendor will go to the buyer’s office to have a look around, this is on behalf of the seller themselves, their staff and the clients. It gives the buyer the chance to show the seller how they operate and to try to get the seller to choose them as the preferred buyer.
If the buyer wants to take on the office of the seller, then the buyer would expect to be shown around the office. This is often done of an evening or at a weekend when there are no staff around. It gives the vendor the chance to explain how the office works, what staff sit where, what systems and processes they use, and the buyer will get a much better idea of how the practice operates on a day-to-day basis. Your broker should arrange all these meetings for you.
It is not until all these meetings have all been conducted that you can expect to have an Indicative Offer submitted by the buyer. This offer is normally sent to the broker for the broker to review before submitting it to the vendor. Your broker will be able to let you know if the offer is a good offer and will give you current market rates.
If you want to work with a broker that will guide you through the process of selling your practice, arranging all the meetings for you and help you along the way then we would be more than happy to talk to you about how we operate. Please get in touch with me, Nicola Draper, on 01788 816440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment to speak with me https://calendly.com/draper-hinks/q_a.
Let me see how I can be of assistance. I look forward to talking to you.