I was going along nicely for 34 years. At age 58, I had a great staff of six at Gail Rosen, CPA PC who had been happily working together for years. There were no thoughts of a merger in my near future. My long-term plan was to join another CPA firm five years prior to retirement which was still a few years off for me. It was the perfect plan until, thankfully, opportunity knocked – an email from Wilkin & Guttenplan.
Here are some tips I can pass on from my M&A experience:
- Consider hiring an accounting merger consultant. With so much at stake, I found this to be a wise monetary investment. This helped protect me on issues that I may have not otherwise considered.
- Try not to over plan. The most important thing I learned was the value of merging now versus waiting. For me, W&G was interested in all that Gail Rosen, CPA, PC, had to offer, which was me, my staff and my client base. Choosing to wait until a few years prior to retirement would have meant it was primarily my clients that I was “selling.”
- Think about operational risks. There was tremendous operational risk that I was ignoring if a health issue were to occur for me or any of my key staff. Worries about cybersecurity, technology, staff, benefits and other expertise needed are no longer mine to worry about alone.
- Analyze whether your clients need more: With this fast-changing world, I am now able to offer my clients answers about international issues and other complex matters. I never realized how much better our services could be for clients.
- Evaluate cross-selling opportunities. With combined operations, I am pleasantly surprised about the amount of opportunities that have grown from my clients and existing relationships.
- Review whether one is open to additional controls. Merging resources with a larger CPA firm meant additional controls for us, which may not be for everyone. While there is additional accountability, it is nothing like what I envisioned it might be.
I challenge other small practitioners to be open-minded about the benefits of a merger, perhaps sooner than originally planned. As accountants, we do not embrace change easily, but we certainly cannot ignore the benefits of good business and opportunities.