By: AJ Chambers | 10 March, 2021

Things to expect and consider when selling your firm

Selling your Accountancy firm is not an easy task. To maximise the value of your business, you’ll need to plan and prepare well in advance. We have gathered the main points on what to expect when thinking of selling your firm. 


FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND FILES WILL BE THOROUGHLY EXAMINED

Due Diligence is an integral part of the transaction process when selling your accountancy practice. Before agreeing to the transaction, a buyer will be concerned with all the firm’s historical financial statements and related financial metrics, as well as client files, compliance and KYC records. In order to avoid any unnecessary confusion or confrontation, we advise that a firms financials and internal records such as, books, records, client files and employment contracts are in good working order and easily obtained for when the time comes.  Selling your Accountancy firm is no easy task.


CONSIDERATION VALUE IS NEGOTIABLE

A company’s shares will not be publicly traded therefore, prices and standards may not be clear straight away. However, it is significant to understand that offer price and valuation (like in other M&A deal terms) are negotiable, although of course industry market rates will be applied. The outcome of these negotiations all depends on a number of factors such as:

  • Whether the buyer is a financial buyer or a strategic buyer
  • The experience and expertise of the management team
  • Client base and profile
  • The sector of your business

Depending on these factors, an M&A consultant should use their market intelligence to advise you on valuations, deal structures and what is achievable and unrealistic.


TRANSACTIONS CAN TAKE A LONG TIME TO MARKET, NEGOTIATE, AND CLOSE

Mergers and acquisitions usually take a long period of time. From beginning to end, around 6 months is a common period of time. The urgency of the buyer, along with seller requirements also have a huge impact on the time period, especially when it comes to performing due diligence and completing the transaction.

At AJ Chambers, we suggest clients start the process as early as 2 years away from a sale so that we can ensure the timings are right. Also, this guarantees the client can have the exit they are ideally looking for.


BE UPFRONT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING

We understand that every business will have it’s own uniqueness and nuances. This applies to both a potential buyer or seller. If all principals are transparent and truthful right from the beginning, there will be less risk of a deal collapsing. 

Your M&A consultant will be able to address any matters, to ensure a smooth process to the best of their ability, as well avoiding wasting all parties time. Whilst a buyer is conducting due diligence, the last problem you need is to uncover something  inaccurate or an instance where the truth has been stretched.


EMPLOYEE AND REMUNERATION MATTERS WILL BE HIGHLY SENSITIVE AND IMPERATIVE 

During a transaction, matters such as employees and renumeration will always be a sensitive subject and must be handled as such. Typically this will involve conversations about employees, salary and benefits issues.


YOU WILL NEED A GREAT LAWYER

For a successful mergers and acquisition process, not only does your M&A team have to be of a certain level but so do your lawyers. These transactions involve complex agreements and deal structures. They require a Corporate and Commercial lawyer who is a specialist in M&A transactions, as well as the overall structure and inner workings of an acquisition agreement.

AJ Chambers has an extensive network of Commercial Lawyers/Solicitors whom are experts in this field. We are able to introduce, on a no obligation basis, should our client’s wish to look at different options on who to be represented by.


OTHER KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR SELLERS WOULD BE:

  • When do I want to retire? How long am I willing to commit to a transition period after sale completion?
  • In what capacity do I wish to remain in the business post sale?
  • What would be the ideal firm for me to sell to, both culturally as well as infrastructure and size wise?

Coupled with vast experience in M&A transactions, AJ Chambers is uniquely placed within the UK market to assist accountancy practice owners in identifying and locating acquisition targets and assisting existing practice owners in achieving an exit that suits their retirement or exit plans.


Our team has a wealth of combined experience in this market and welcomes existing and new clients to get in touch, for a confidential and discrete, no-obligation discussion to explore how we may work together. For more information, contact James on 020 8092 6220 or james.gosling@aj-chambers.com


Helpful External Resources:

Accountancy: ICAEW | Accountancy Age | Accounting Web
Law: Law Society | Law Gazette | Legal Futures



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