How summer holidays can affect the process of buying and selling accountancy practices

I often get asked if there is a good time or a bad time for selling accountancy fees. The obvious answer is not to try to sell your accountancy practice in December or January.

I am now going to contradict myself by saying you can actually sell fees any time in the year, if you have to. We have had vendors coming to us at the end of the year, saying they have to sell because they have limited time to live or where a spouse (the accountant) has died. In these cases we do our best and have managed in each case to find a buyer very quickly.

Selling a practice in the summer is always possible, but it can take a little longer for things to happen. The length of the delay is dependent on the number of people involved in the deal. If we are selling a practice for a sole practitioner to a buyer who is also a sole practitioner the delay should not be too long. However, I am now going to contradict myself again by saying we have one sole practitioner, a vendor, who has just gone on holiday for a month and the buyer will go on a fortnight’s holiday when he gets back, so for six weeks no decisions are going to be made. This can be frustrating for anyone involved in trying to negotiate a deal.

The other thing to bear in mind is that staff go on holiday. This means that both the buyer and seller have more work to do to keep the practice going with the reduced number of staff available and so have little time to devote to the deal. We ask vendors to provide us with a lot of information prior to putting their practice on the market and getting this ready is often delayed in the summer months, where staff are away and other priorities or managing the day to day running of the practice getting in the way. This can delay the practice going on the market and can frustrate vendors who have decided to sell their accountancy practice and just want to get on with the process.

Patience is the name of the game at this time of year.

We try very hard at Draper Hinks to keep on top of who is on holiday, when they get back and how, if at all, we can contact them whilst away. We have to be incredibly careful not to email someone at their work if they are on holiday and the staff are dealing with all emails in their absence. We tend to communicate using private email, spouse’s email, text or spouse’s text. Whichever method we have to use we will do so to make sure everything remains confidential.

Some vendors will let their staff know that they are thinking of selling their fees, so the holiday season is not an issue. But that is by far the exception rather than the rule.

My advice to anyone wanting to sell at this time of year is to go ahead and do it. But remember it may take longer. It is the 1st August today and we are still getting instructions from buyers who want to have sold their accountancy fees by the end of the year. This is possible subject to the size of the practice and ability of the both parties to make decisions during the month of August.

We always have to check who the decision maker is in the practice that is buying the accountancy fees. Not all partners have an equal say in what decisions are being made. It is not unusual for the decision maker to go on holiday and everything comes to a halt while they are away. The remaining partners just take messages and are not able to move things along. This can be frustrating for everyone involved in the process. It can also be applicable to the practice that is being sold as well.

Even if you start the sale of your accountancy practice in the summer months and know that there is the possibility of a delay, you will still sell your practice a lot more quickly than if you delay the start of the process until September.

My advice is if you want to sell your accountancy fees in the summer, start the process whenever you are ready, but be prepared to have to wait longer for decisions to be made. We have this every summer so are well used to dealing with these matters. We have lots of experience with selling and buying accountancy practices at any time of year.

We know what we are talking about, so if you are thinking of selling your fees then contact me, Nicola Draper on 01788 816440 or email me at

Please remember everything discussed will be kept in the strictest of confidence.