How summer holidays 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 in both December and January, saying they have to sell because they are seriously ill, or a family member is very unwell or even where someone 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 very often it takes 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, assuming they are both decision makers. However, I am now going to contradict myself again by saying we have had one sole practitioner, a vendor, who went on their summer holiday for a month. The buyer was planning on going away for a fortnight’s holiday when the vendor returned, so for six weeks no decisions were able to be made. This can be frustrating for all parties involved in trying to negotiate a deal.

The other thing to bear in mind, that is often overlooked, is the fact that staff also 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 of managing the day to day running of the practice get in the way. This can delay the practice going on the market and can frustrate vendors who have finally 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 where the staff are dealing with all emails in their absence. We tend to communicate using private emails, spouse’s email, text or spouse’s text. Whichever method we have to use we will do, 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 this is unusual.

My advice is, if you want to sell your accountancy fees in the summer, start the process as soon as you are ready, but be prepared to have to wait longer for any decisions to be made. We have vendors that face this dilemma 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.