February 27, 2019 by Peter Hobb

Build the right team for your succession plan

Developing and running a business involves years of hard work, nurturing and tough decisions. You don’t want to diminish those years of dedication by treating your succession as an afterthought. As a business owner, there are many benefits to thinking about your succession plan early. A well-thought-out succession helps to protect the valuable legacy of your business by preparing it for the future and unexpected events. It can also help you maintain a good relationship with employees, customers and stakeholders.

Whether you’re selling your business or passing it to your family, it helps to have the right outside expertise to ensure you achieve the best possible outcome. Succession advisors can relieve stress and help to orchestrate a smooth exit. Advisors provide professional expertise in areas where you may have little knowledge and options for different outcomes based on your personal goals. Additionally, advisors can help prepare your management team for your exit. In building the right team, you are likely to need advisors in the following roles, with whom you can have a suitable working relationship.

Lead advisor

It’s important to select one lead advisor who has a thorough understanding of each aspect of the succession plan. Seek a professional specializing in succession planning. The lead advisor should act as a primary project manager who coordinates with you and all other advisors. They can also help establish timelines, keep the succession plan up to date and notify employees, customers, suppliers, successors and all other relevant parties about the future plans of the business.

Business valuators

Prior to exiting your business, you will need to have clarity on how much your business is worth. Business valuators can assist in valuing your business and business assets. They will consider factors such as future outlooks for the business and industry, expected future profits, customer base and historical earnings. Your business valuation will be the foundation for planning your post-retirement finances and will serve as the foundation for negotiating with potential buyers should you decide to sell.

Financial planner

A financial planner can prepare a plan for your financial future once you step away from your business. A financial plan will project an estimated annual cash flow you might expect in the future and an estimate of your future annual expenses. This person will also highlight any annual shortfall that might arise, allowing you to take corrective action. A financial plan can go a long way in giving you confidence you can live comfortably in retirement and achieve your retirement goals.

Merger and acquisition (M&A) advisors

M&A advisors can offer services for complex business transactions. These transactions may occur on a national or even global scale and may involve an intricate business merger or sale. An M&A advisor will work strategically with the business owner to put the business up for sale and negotiate deal terms, enhancing the probability of a successful outcome. The advisor can help navigate issues such as what is included in the sale, which employees will be maintained, what the role of the business owner will be post-sale and financing. The advisor can act on behalf of the business owner to gauge the interest and level of commitment of various buyers. They will also screen potential buyers by examining qualifications, seriousness and capital available. In addition, M&A advisors prepare a Confidential Information Memorandum (CIM) document to pitch the business to buyers. This document can include product or service information, financial data and strategic information about the company.


Succession planning involves a number people, each with different personalities and emotions. In other words, conflicts are common. A mediator is skilled at dealing with and finding solutions for business conflicts, while keeping emotions in check. A mediator can be very useful in family business successions or in cases where the successor has tension with employees or clients. A mediator facilitates discussion by defining issues clearly and allowing those involved to express their respective needs and concerns. A mediator will work with both sides to sort out issues and develop creative solutions designed to achieve goals.

Income tax specialist

To ensure income taxes are minimized, it is important your team includes someone who has an intimate knowledge of the income tax rules. It can be incredibly valuable to have help navigating the tax implications of transferring or selling your business and evaluating your options for structuring the sale or transfer. When it comes to tax planning, one size does not fit all.

Other advisors

Your advisor team will also include your existing advisors, such as your external accountant and lawyer. They’ll have a history with your company that is invaluable to any succession plan. Historical financial information will be required, and legal documents will need to be prepared, whether this is a sale or a transfer to a family member. Existing advisors may also be able to play one or more of the roles described above.

Prepare for the next step

Selling, buying, merging or transitioning out of a business takes time, commitment and effort. Having the right succession team can help you achieve your exit goals, while ensuring you leave behind a strong legacy. Who you select for your team will depend on your particular circumstances and the goals you are trying to achieve. In any case, Baker Tilly has a diversity of expertise and is prepared to put together the ideal team for your succession plan needs.

Meet the Author

Peter Hobb Peter Hobb
Courtice, Ontario
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