Exit Planning is an on-going process and can take up to five years or more. It begins with establishing your objectives, valuing your company, and ends with a successful exit. Along the way, you and your team of advisors (CPA, attorney, insurance/financial professional) look at preserving the value of the company, protecting that value from creditors, and increasing overall value.
This is a lot to consider — and to do. And this is where an annual planning meeting comes in. The annual planning meeting gives structure to the entire exit planning process. Depending on where you are in the process, you may meet with your advisors more often, but if you are actively pursuing a successful exit you should meet with all advisors, together, at least annually.
For OFWF, we contact our exiting clients once a year and task them to set up a time when he/she and all of their advisors (usually an attorney, insurance/financial professional and CPA) can meet to touch base, share progress, issue new tasks, and tweak strategy if needed. Some owners hesitate to bring this group together expecting that the cumulative hourly fees make the meeting cost-prohibitive. Sensitive to this, we and many others advisors, reduce hourly rates for this meeting. We understand that the annual meeting is key to your ultimate success.
Typically, the Annual Planning Agenda includes:
• Owners Objectives. Have your objectives changed since you last met? Are there new objectives that your team should be working to meet?
• Business Value. Is there a valuation in place? Does it need to be reviewed?
• Preserving Value. Is the company doing everything it can to minimize its tax liability?
• Protecting Value. What steps need to be taken to protect the value of the company from creditors?
• Promoting Value. What areas of the company need to be improved to increase the value of the company? This topic often includes a discussion of motivating key employees.
• Lifetime Transfer Objectives. Are you on track to transfer the company to the party of your choice (an insider or outside third party)?
• Business Continuity Planning. What must be done to make sure that, if you die or become disabled that the business will continue in the face of its: loss of ownership, financial resources, key talent, and very possibly, employees and customers?
• Wealth Preservation Planning. What can the owner do to minimize estate taxes, treat all children fairly, provide financial security for their family and, if applicable, transfer the business to one or more of their children?
As you can see, this meeting is owner-driven. Every Agenda item is designed to help enable the owner to meet their ultimate goal of leaving their business in style. To make that exit possible, each member of his/her Team of Advisors will leave this meeting with their marching orders for the rest of the year. Because they are all present, they can benefit from each other's expertise and can efficiently execute their parts of his/her Exit Plan.