In most locations, clients have many choices when selecting a CPA. Since they have a choice, you need to determine why the clients have chosen you or your firm to work with. Understanding why will enable you to focus on firms that are similar in both personality and culture and can meet the Commandments of Successful Succession:
- A firm with a similar culture and fee perspective
- A firm having the expertise and licenses required to provide the services you currently offer your clients
- A firm geographically sensitive to your client base
- A firm with excess capacity or the ability to replace you, when the time comes
- A firm with a similar methodology of working with clients (If you do a lot of client handholding, the potential successor must be able to do the same)
- A firm that can give your clients the same level of interaction (If your clients are accustomed to dealing with a principal or partner, the successor must at least initially do the same)
- A firm with which you have chemistry. (If you are not comfortable with your successor professionally and personally, why would your clients and staff be?)
- A firm who will maximize continuity and minimize change.
These commandments are important because most deals, other than some of those with an internal succession solution, have a retention clause as a component of purchase price. Continuity = Retention. Benchmarking your potential successor against the commandments addresses the potential for continuity of culture and service therefore maximizing retention and generating the highest possible purchase price for you.
For more information:
- How to Select a Successor by Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, Journal of Accountancy, c2013
- The Long Goodbye by Joel Sinkin and Terrence Putney, Journal of Accountancy, c2013