Who Should Be On Your Business Exit Advisory Team?

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Business Exit Planning: The Key Advisor Roles You Need to Consider Adding

Are you thinking about assembling your business exit advisory team? If you are, you’re ahead of about 70% of all other business owners (see alarming stats below).

You’ve definitely spent a significant amount of time, capital and energy building out your business. To have come this far as a business owner, you likely have a team of key players inside the business who work with you to make important decisions.

The same should be true for your exit planning strategy.

Your entire future may be locked up inside your business. You need a team of external key players who work together to help you make decisions surrounding your business, your exit and your personal life.

Think about the three-legged stool analogy we  identified in this blog post, “The 6 Essential Steps Toward Successful Business Exit Planning.”  As a quick recap: a sound exit plan incorporates:

  1. The needs of the business
  2. The financial needs of the owner
  3. The personal readiness of the owner

Each of theses three legs have multiple needs and moving parts – many of which have legal, tax and financial implications. It can get complicated.

The Problem:
Owners Don’t Have Their Business Exit Advisory Teams in Place

According to the Exit Planning Institute, 78% of business owners have not established a formal transition advisory team.

And only 37% have sought advice outside the company regarding any sort of transition plans — multiple key players outside your organization who will bring significant advice to your planning efforts, as well as different opinions, perspectives and experiences.

The Solution:
Choose Key Advisors to Guide Your Business Exit

Building out a sound and solid team of advisors and professionals can uncomplicate the exit planning process.

Your advisors should work collaboratively to manage all three legs of the stool – your personal, business and financial goals. They need to understand what it takes to make a team work and to make sure all moving parts are in collaboration and communication with each other every step along the way.

Core team members of any business – no matter how big or small – include:

  1. Wealth advisor
  2. CPA
  3. Attorney

Additional key players are often needed. The specific members of your advisory team may vary depending on your exit planning strategy. Here is a detailed list for you to weigh and consider adding to your team.

Your Personal Advisory Team

  • Wealth Advisor/ Financial Planner
    Your wealth advisor is responsible for all pertinent personal and financial information. This advisor is instrumental in calculating your Wealth Gap, which involves a sound financial plan and business valuation. According to recent research conducted by the Exit Planning Institute, your wealth advisor is seen as your most trusted advisor and will remain on the team long after the sale or exit has occurred.
  • Tax Advisor/ CPA
    Your CPA will collaborate with your wealth advisor and estate attorney to develop strategies to help mitigate taxes from the sale of a business. In addition to tax expertise and preparation (from a personal perspective), this key player should provide a diverse set of services to the actual business, including financial statements, forensic accounting, auditing and valuation.
  • Estate Attorney
    Your estate attorney works with you to maximize wealth while effectively minimizing estate taxes. The estate attorney is involved in the creation of the will, trusts for the next generation and organizing charitable contributions. Estate planning is making sure the right people get the right assets at the right time – the business (which may currently be illiquid) and its potential proceeds are an incredibly important piece of that puzzle.
  • Family Members
    As a business owner, everything you do impacts your family and the families of your employees. Making a decision to exit a business, especially a family business, can be a challenging and exciting time, so it is important to ensure key family members feel included in the process.

Your Business Advisory Team

  • Tax Advisor/CPA
    Mentioned above, your CPA is a critical member of your exit planning team, from both a personal perspective and a business one. Buyers and sellers often have competing interests from a tax perspective. Having a tax specialist on your side may lend you a more competitive edge at the negotiation table.
  • Business/ Transaction Attorney
    Your business attorney oversees contracts or agreements involved in large business transactions. They are responsible for drafting any documents necessary to transfer ownership, particularly important for internal transfers. They may also connect you to different types of legal counsel in personal or financial capacities.
  • Growth Consultant
    Often referred to as a value advisor, this expert manages the true value of the owner’s business and works to unlock any undervalued wealth that may be trapped inside the business by addressing the profit and value gaps.
  • Business Broker/M&A Advisor
    The need for this advisor is determined by what exit planning strategy you choose to employ. They research the industry for potential buyers and position the company for sale – including deal preparation; negotiation of terms and price of the acquisition or merger; and arrangement of the sale of the company itself. They are responsible for developing a strategy for marketing the business.
  • Risk Advisor
    Identifying business risks is the first step toward building significant value in a business. Your risk advisor works to mitigate and manage risks by providing general business liability insurance, cybersecurity insurance, key man insurance and life insurance. They may sometimes even manage healthcare benefits for the company.

Other potential team members may include a commercial banker, real estate advisor, advisory board, key executives/employees and investment banker.

The Coordinator:
Who is Holding Your Business Advisory Team Accountable?

Accountability is the backbone of any successful team, and it’s important to invest time, money and energy into building out your team. We recommend that you also have a coordinator for your advisory team to keep the group moving forward in the best interest of the both you and your business.

Oakworth advisors often serve in this coordinator role when working with our clients and understand the complexities facing business owners who are going through the business exit planning process.

Note: This article is the forth piece in a special content series on Business Exit Planning. Also check out:

Again, if you’re interested in learning more about business exit planning, join our live webinar coming up in April!



This document is being provided for informational and educational purposes and is not meant to be taken as specific advice. Oakworth Capital Bank does not provide tax or legal advice. All decisions regarding the tax and/or legal implications of these strategies should be discussed with your tax and/or legal advisors before being implemented.