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About SRG

Succession Resource Group is a boutique succession consulting firm based in the Pacific Northwest, serving clients across the country. SRG was founded by David Grau Jr., MBA in 2012 after nearly a decade of helping advisors with valuation and succession planning. SRG's team of experts leverage their industry expertise, combined with best-in-class resources, to help advisors, agents, and accountants manage the equity in their businesses...

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6 min read

Acquisition Lending to Help Your Business Expand

By David Grau Jr. on Oct 6, 2021 2:52:24 PM

Expansion through acquisition looks great on paper, but there are a lot of moving parts to address before it can become a reality. The most obvious question is, “Where is the money going to come from?” There are a series of steps required before this can be answered.

Topics: acquisitions
8 min read

Succession Planning 101: Steps and Processes

By David Grau Jr. on Jul 13, 2021 2:05:03 PM

All businesses, regardless of type and size, have an organizational structure that determines how the company is managed on a daily basis. While they may have all the right advisors in place for the current state of the business, it is important for organizations to make sure they have a plan in place to keep the business thriving long-term, regardless of who is at the helm. Succession planning, as both a concept and a strategy, establishes a framework for identifying and developing next-gen talent to replace the founder when she/he exits the business.

10 min read

Selling a Book of Business for Financial Advisors

By David Grau Jr. on Jun 29, 2021 11:08:20 AM

There are multiple reasons to believe that the number of mergers and acquisitions in the wealth management space will be high in the next five to ten years. To start with, over 50% of active financial advisors are over age fifty. Many of them will be looking for an exit strategy. Combine that with the fact that very few advisors have a succession plan and the increased deal volume year-over-year recently and it is reasonable to expect more consolidation short and long-term.

6 min read

Three Traditional Approaches to Valuation Methods

By David Grau Jr. on Jun 17, 2021 4:01:52 PM

There are a wide variety of methods and approaches that can be used when determining the value of a financial services business. There are three valuation methods that are commonly considered. In many instances, one of these valuation methods may suffice, but depending upon the circumstances, it can be beneficial to use a combination of these valuation methods to achieve a detailed and accurate representation of the firm’s fair market value.

Topics: Valuation
5 min read

The Complete Guide to Understanding M&A Valuation Process

By Kristen Grau on Jun 9, 2021 2:24:41 PM

Over the next 10 years, 4.5 million businesses with over $10 trillion in value will transition into new hands via mergers and acquisitions. A major source of this shift is the retirement of baby boomers - 10,000 of whom turn 65 every single day. It is therefore more important than ever that business owners keep a pulse on their valuation, and to value their businesses annually. This can help business owners identify weaknesses in their business, make better financial decisions, and provide them with an opportunity to implement informed strategies for improvement moving forward (among other benefits). Not only will valuations help business owners run their business better in the short term, understanding the value of their firm will help them be prepared to sell the business and understand what it is worth when the time comes.

5 min read

M&A Support: What, When, How, and Why

By David Pan on May 18, 2021 2:53:00 PM

Mergers and acquisitions are team activities. Surgeons don’t go into the operating room without nurses and anesthesiologists. Business owners shouldn’t enter into an agreement to sell or merge their business without M&A support.

5 min read

6 Major Cost Considerations to Sell Your Business

By Kristen Grau on Nov 23, 2020 4:55:06 PM

Selling your business is not only a difficult decision to make, but it can often be a costly one if not done correctly and objectively. And while the particular path you choose for your exit will inevitably vary, it is important to understand who will help you in that process, in what capacity, and what responsibilities you have as an owner. If you are thinking of selling your business or planning to sell in the future, here are the costs you should consider.

Topics: Blog
12 min read

Mergers and Acquisitions 101: M&A for Financial Advisors

By David Grau Jr. on Nov 18, 2020 2:50:09 PM

What Exactly Is M&A?

The term "mergers and acquisitions" (M&A) broadly refers to the process of one company combining with another; however, the method and legality of how these terms are processed are slightly different.

Topics: Acquisition Blog
3 min read

Five Myths in Succession Planning

By David Grau Jr. on Jul 30, 2020 8:00:54 AM

As most business owners will attest to, starting and running a business involves a combination of conviction/passion, perseverance, stress and personal sacrifice. Owners invest a significant amount of themselves and capital into running these businesses, and as a result, most have a substantial portion of their net worth tied up in their business. The vast majority of owners/founders we've worked with here at Succession Resource Group have communicated that their business is not just a valuable asset, but their most valuable asset. So, why do so few owners have an answer for their key stakeholders about when they will retire from their business and who will succeed them? Because the common myths of succession planning give them a sense that they can or should be dealing with this topic tomorrow (in the proverbial sense). Here are the most common myths that our clients come to us with that hold owners back from effectively tackling this important topic:

5 min read

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Kristen Grau on Jun 9, 2020 10:37:25 AM

The market for advisor practices was set to be a record year in 2020 based on closing 2019 out on a high note, with valuations and deal terms as good as they have ever been. Fast forward three months and COVID-19 has eroded all these gains and left many advisors reeling and re-evaluating. As an advisor thinking of phasing out over the next few months or years, you are probably thinking, “Great, now what?”

2 min read

Add Succession Resource Group as a safe sender - Get the mail you want

By David Pan on Apr 6, 2020 11:24:20 AM

Ensure that you receive your Succession Resource Group (SRG) emails and subscriptions by adding the SRG domain to your list of safe senders and/or contacts.

Topics: Blog
2 min read

Getting the Most Value Out of Your Business

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 5, 2020 2:35:19 PM

Developing a succession plan is a great tool to ensure your business continues to grow while you eventually work less and begin to realize the value of your business. But, a key piece of developing a plan for you and your business is having the right successor. For some, this person may be an existing employee or junior partner, but for the majority, the solution is to find a peer to sell the business to. The sale often involves a long-term gradual work-out period providing you with an exit strategy that lets you leave your business on your terms. So, where do you find a succession partner? And how can you do it with paying a hefty commission to a broker? Read on.

2 min read

Best Practices: Creating a Business Death/Disability Plan

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 5, 2020 2:34:29 PM

What would happen to your business, your clients and the value of the company, if something where to happen to you suddenly? Do you have a plan and systems in place to ensure your business will carry on until you return? Or, a plan to ensure the business continues under someone else’s leadership if you cannot return?

2 min read

Continuity Planning - A key to acquisition success?!

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 5, 2020 2:34:17 PM

To start with, let's define the term "Continuity Planning."

2 min read

The Power of Subtlety in Acquiring a Practice

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 27, 2020 2:33:42 PM

It may sound contrarian, but if you are interested in buying a business, do yourself a favor and never ask the question, “Can I buy your practice?” Experienced advisors that have bought a business before know this to be true, and the reason is simple. The question ignores the fundamental realities of practice acquisition in the financial services industry. In the financial services business, the person who says “yes” to the question, “do you want to sell?” is not necessarily the type of person from whom you want to buy a practice.

2 min read

Show Me The Money - Acquisition Financing Trends

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 27, 2020 2:29:31 PM

If you asked us five years ago about financing the acquisition of an advisory practice in the financial services industry, there would not have been much to talk about. Until recently, almost all deals were done using a combination of buyer’s funds and seller financing. Bank financing was not a viable option for most deals because lenders generally struggled with the collateral on the loan – an advisor’s most valuable asset in their business is the client relationship and cash flow those relationships produce. Before the market drop in September 2008, some advisor buyers were able to leverage home-equity lines of credit or large business lines of credit, but most had to use personal funds to finance their deal, which priced many otherwise qualified successors out of the market. Until recently, the typical deal for advisors with less than $5,000,000 in annual revenue involved 20-40% cash down from a buyer, with the balance seller-financed over 4 to 5 years at 5-7% interest. That is changing, and the results seem to be good for everyone involved in the deals.

2 min read

Secrets to a Successful Succession

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 27, 2020 11:44:43 AM

Great article from Matthew Halloran on succession planning. He makes 10 good suggestions for buyers/sellers to be thinking about, here is a quick summary:

2 min read

Create a Simple Succession Plan

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 27, 2020 11:38:04 AM

Every business and client base is unique. But, there are some common core elements for advisors to consider if they want to begin developing a succession plan or internal ownership track for the next generation. We have seen and developed a wide variety of plans for our clients and know it's easy to get bogged down in the details or let these types of plans become overly complex and “die on the vine.” Our recommendation? Start planning sooner rather than later, and keep it simple.

2 min read

Plan for the worst...Hope for the best

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 27, 2020 11:37:21 AM

At some point in your career as a small business owner, you will find yourself either needing or wanting a partner (I use the term "partner" in the loosest sense of the term). Whether it is for the purposes of adding/retaining talent, expanding your business and talent pool, sharing expenses, or building a succession/exit plan, finding someone to partner with in serving your clients is essential for businesses to survive for multiple generations.

2 min read

Intrapreneur or Competitor?

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 27, 2020 11:34:56 AM

What should you do when one of your key staff comes into your office and tells you they are resigning to go start their own competing business? The simple thing most of would do is to take their resignation and call them a Judas. But, consider an alternative. When your key executive has that entrepreneurial spark and an idea, try harnessing it to your advantage!

3 min read

Building a More Valuable Practice - Tip #4

By David Grau Jr. on Jan 13, 2020 4:23:10 PM

AGE MATTERS

Age matters – we all hope it doesn’t, but the reality is that the age of your clients and their corresponding assets can have a drastic effect on the value of your business. An aging business is a dying business in the eyes of a buyer who is considering the long-term buying potential of the your book of business. One of the most important things to increase the value of your business, and one of the most difficult items to change, is the age of your clients and the amount of multi-generational planning that takes place in your company.

2 min read

Building a More Valuable Practice – Tip #2

By David Grau Jr. on Jan 13, 2020 4:00:00 PM

Not All Revenue is the Same

There are many ways to grow your practice – the most obvious being adding more revenue, more assets and/or more clients. However, not all revenue is created equal in the eyes of a buyer, and not all revenue has value. The key is to ensure your revenue is predictable, and this can take place in a variety of ways for both recurring revenue sources (fees, 12b-1s, renewals, and trails) and transactional sources. Regardless of source, buyers will pay a premium for predictable cash inflow.

2 min read

Intro to Equity Sharing - Best Practice for All Company Sizes

By David Grau Jr. on Dec 20, 2019 11:18:09 AM

As a business professional, I have no doubt you have met a colleague or two that has told you all about the horrors of having business partners. I too have heard these stories, and they are vivid reminders about the weight these types of decisions should command. With that as my disclaimer, I want to share with you some of the benefits of having junior partners and go beyond the obvious potential benefits like collaboration, sharing work, infusion of capital, or synergies.

3 min read

What to Expect When You Sell Your Business

By David Grau Jr. on Dec 19, 2019 5:59:41 PM

Selling a business, in any industry, is a major endeavor with far reaching implications for a wide variety of stakeholders. The first question for most owners is timing - "When should I sell my business?" This is both a personal and financial decision. If your intent is to sell to an internal successor you have or will groom, you will need significantly more time and resources than a sale to a peer/competitor. Internal transitions should start planning at least five years prior to the owner's planned retirement, where a sale to a peer might only require 3 to 5 years of transition time for the optimal results (from start to finish). Regardless of who you sell to, and when you decide to do it, here are a few important items, that if you keep in mind throughout the process, will produce a better result for everyone:

3 min read

Succession Planning Help Is On The Way

By David Grau Jr. on Dec 19, 2019 10:20:37 AM

Change is hard. No one likes it. So it is no surprise that so many advisers avoid the subject of succession planning. Both a Cerulli Associates study and polling by the Financial Services Institute found that almost 60% of advisers have not yet identified a successor. Yet every year more advisers get closer to their inevitable transition. An estimated $2.3 trillion in assets is controlled by advisers over the age of 60.

4 min read

Top 10 Tips: Succession Planning for Insurance Agencies

By David Grau Jr. on Dec 18, 2019 2:49:51 PM

After witnessing hundreds of agency leadership transitions, whether it's planned, forced, tragic, or amicable, change in leadership is always difficult. You may think you have all your ducks in a row, then one will fly off on you. Here’s some help finding what could work for you:

 

5 min read

How To Tell Employees You Are Selling The Business

By David Grau Jr. on Dec 17, 2019 11:03:59 AM

Download PDF Version »

1 min read

2017 Advisor M&A Trends

By David Pan on Nov 25, 2019 1:37:14 PM

Join us as we delve into the 2017 Advisor M&A Trends and discuss another exciting year for the financial services industry with increased RIA and advisor consolidation, changes in compliance and the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule, and the tax reform —  all of which had a direct/indirect impact on the value of RIA and advisory practices. This infographic shares the 2017 highlights in addition to what we shared in SRG’s live webcast.

5 min read

Three Ways to Build Value in Your Advisory Practice

By David Grau Jr. on Nov 8, 2019 10:23:24 AM

As an advisor, you provide tremendous value to your clients every day. But, what is often overlooked in the advisor-client dynamic, is the value they provide to you. That is, beyond the fees or commissions they pay you for your service, products or advice, your clients are providing you “value.”

4 min read

Selling Your Masterpiece

By David Pan on Nov 14, 2018 8:00:32 AM

As an advisor, at the end of a career, your business is your masterpiece – it’s your Picasso. It’s one of a kind, and in today’s market, you will not have trouble finding someone who wants to take it off your hands and pay you for it.

But, there is a huge difference in getting paid, and getting what your business is worth from the best possible successor for your clients. The majority of advisors will not obtain the best deal, and many may not even be selling to the best successor. There are four key obstacles standing between you and the best deal with the best buyer:

3 min read

DOL Fiduciary Struck Down – Time to Sell

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 28, 2018 4:08:23 PM

On Thursday, March 15th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit struck down the DOL Fiduciary Rule. It is not known at this time whether this ruling will be appealed, or if it will apply to the entire country or just the states residing inside the 5th Circuit Court’s jurisdiction (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas). Nevertheless, the decision will have an impact on the value of advisor practices in 2018 and beyond, due to the expected shift in the supply-demand curves for advisor practices that are for sale.

4 min read

Are YOU Hurting the Value of Your Business

By David Grau Jr. on May 16, 2017 9:54:42 AM

There are many complicated facets to running a service-based business, but the most vital component are the relationships you build every day. These relationships are the basis of value, and, for most, your business is your largest and most valuable asset. The most frequently discussed factors that impact the value of your business are profitability, how consistent your revenue is and the growth rate of the practice.

9 min read

First DOL, Now IRS Gunning for Advisors

By Kristen Grau on Mar 10, 2017 3:30:04 PM

Download Printable PDF

5 min read

Contingency Planning FAQ

By David Grau Jr. on May 3, 2016 9:00:17 AM

What is a contingency plan?

A contingency plan is an agreement between two or more advisors designed to protect your business in case of your death, disability (temporary or permanent), loss of license, and possibly even retirement (although most plans do not deal with succession planning). There are a variety of plan types to solve for these issues:

5 min read

Maximum Sales Value: The Role of Compliance in the Great Advisor Cash Out

By David Grau Jr. on Apr 4, 2016 2:45:57 PM

This article was originally published by the National Ethics Association and E&O for Less on February 26th, 2016 and written by Harry J. Lew, NEA Chief Content Officer.

3 min read

Leveraging Your Growth: Equity Compensation Strategies for Advisors

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 15, 2016 9:50:27 AM

Most financial advisors are aware that a succession plan is important to their business and clients. Based on the last study done by InvestmentNews in 2012, 94% of respondents acknowledged the need for a plan, yet only 7% of those respondents actually had a plan.

4 min read

Revenue Sharing: Variable Comp and Your Value

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 7, 2016 11:34:32 AM

We recently spoke with an advisor who generated $10.5 million in annual revenue and was contemplating the sale of his business. Like many, he expected a premium sale price/valuation given the size of his operation, his radio show that generated a consistent stream of new business, and being located in a very desirable market. Surely his business was worth the $30 Million he was expecting, right? The unfortunate part of the story is that, even though he had built a large “enterprise” and was the sole owner, he compensated all of his employees on an eat-what-you-kill (EWYK) model paying them a percentage of gross revenue for the book they serviced, leaving only a fraction of the total gross revenue to the owner (approximately $500K annually). Not exactly what you would expect from a $10.5 million business and would make a $30 million asking price seem ludicrous given the free cash flow.

3 min read

Building a More Valuable Practice - Tip #3

By David Grau Jr. on Oct 6, 2015 12:58:47 PM

Tip 1  |  Tip 2  |  Tip 3  |  Tip 4

Growth is King

One of the most important drivers of value in any business is growth. Historical growth, while no guarantor, is a useful proxy/tool for projecting a business or asset’s ability to produce revenue in the future. As a buyer, you will pay more for a practice that is growing each year than one that is getting smaller. One of the biggest mistakes advisors/reps/agents make is waiting too long to sell their businesses, often having contemplated selling for several years before they finally made the decision. By the time many decide to actually sell the business, they have been coasting for a few years, causing their growth to stall or even decline – making it a suboptimal time to sell. For financial service practices, growth of the business can happen in three specific ways. Anyone contemplating selling their business, or a buyer looking at practices to acquire, should pay attention to the following growth metrics.

3 min read

9 Tips to Prepare Your Business for Sale

By David Grau Jr. on Mar 2, 2015 12:18:48 PM

Depending on what source you look at, the average age of an advisor in the financial services industry is anywhere from 51-57 years old. While that would typically leave plenty of time until the average age of retirement, the average age of an advisor selling their business is much younger, most often occurring near age 59. This is due in large part to the long-term seller involvement that is ideal in the sale of a professional services business, ranging from as low as 12 months to as long as 5 years. While you may not sell your business, you will leave this industry – planned or unplanned. The better prepared you are for your eventual transition, the happier your clients will be with the process, and the more you are likely to get out of it (financially and emotionally).

2 min read

Building a More Valuable Practice – Tip #1

By David Grau Jr. on Feb 18, 2014 12:00:06 AM

Tip 1  |  Tip 2  |  Tip 3  |  Tip 4

There are many ways to grow your practice – the most obvious being adding more revenue, more assets and/or more clients. The most valuable businesses in the industry however focus on building value in their enterprise every year, in addition to growing the revenue/asset base. There is a long list of recommendations that we would make as your succession/valuation consultant and the easiest way to understand these recommendations is to look at your business from a buyer’s perspective. When a buyer evaluates a business for purchase, there are many items reviewed in due diligence that drive or detract from the value, including the revenue sources, growth rate, age of the clients, location of clients, client service process and many others. Here is our first tip in this series of how to Build a More Valuable Practice:

2 min read

How Soon Is Too Soon?

By David Grau Jr. on Aug 25, 2012 1:00:08 AM

As a small business owner, there are many things that fill your typical day, most focused on either maintaining the business you’ve built or on ways to grow the business. Having worked with small business owners over the last decade, I know most of you reading this post don’t spend any measurable amount of time thinking about your succession/exit plan. With this in mind, the focus of this post is to answer a question I hear frequently from owners and their successors – “When should we start developing the succession plan?”

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