It looks like you are in United States. Go to the United States site Arrow right icon

×

How sellable is your business? Find out in under 4 minutes here.

Ready to Exit? Paul Franco’s Tips to Increase Your Business Value

Blog

Ready to Exit? Paul Franco’s Tips to Increase Your Business Value

By , June 21, 2024
Paul Franco_ Quote

 

 

 

Want to ensure a seamless transition to retirement while maximising business value? Here’s the solution to help you achieve that result. Get ready to tap into expert insights that will help you prepare your financial practice for a successful exit strategy. Dive in and ensure your business is exit-ready!

Paul Franco, a seasoned financial planning veteran, found himself at a crossroads in his business journey. Recognising the need for rapid growth, he faced a common struggle – the slow pace of client acquisition through traditional marketing efforts. It was an epiphany for Paul when he observed the aging demographic of financial planners worldwide. This prompted him to shift gears and adopt an acquisition strategy, a decision that led him to acquire multiple practices over the past eight years. His experience, spanning around 30 years in the industry, offers a unique insight into the intricacies of integrating acquired businesses seamlessly. Paul’s journey showcases the power of adaptability and the value of unconventional approaches in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of financial planning.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Master the art of acquiring financial planning practices and expand your business portfolio effortlessly.
  • Uncover the growth potential through a well-crafted acquisition strategy for your financial advisory business.
  • Strategically prepare your business for a successful and lucrative exit strategy.
  • Explore effective valuation methods tailored to financial practices for maximising business value.
  • Learn the secrets to seamlessly integrating acquired businesses into your existing operations for enhanced profitability.

Watch the episode here:

In this episode of the Exit Insights podcast, I’m talking to Paul Franco, who is building a financial planning practice by acquisition. Paul’s got a fantastic story of how he built and owned his practice for a good number of years, and he realised that the growth by the organic growth of his organisation just wasn’t helping to achieve the goals that he was looking to achieve. So he embarked on this program of acquire businesses. He got really clear with the help of a coach, an EIS coach who helped him guide and structure what he was looking to achieve. And he’s very deliberate, very structured in how he approached, who he approached and what was a good fit for his firm and considering both cultural and commercial aspects.

The thing that I love about this episode and what I learned from talking today was that his approach was not to just acquire businesses where he could get all the upside. His approach was to go, let me find some businesses where the owners have already prepared their business for exit. That makes it a whole lot easier for me to acquire the business. It makes a good exit journey for them and it helps me go on and integrate the business and then acquire another business even faster, which is all on the cards for him. It is a really interesting episode to listen to. I hope you enjoy it. And thanks for listening to the Exit Insights podcast.

Welcome to the podcast that’s dedicated to helping business owners prepare for exit so you can maximise value and exit on your terms. This is the Exit Insights podcast presented by Succession plus. I’m Darryl Bates-Brownsword, and today I’ve got Paul Franco who’s joining me.

Paul’s quite an interesting business guy. He’s in the market of acquiring financial planning practices. Paul, why don’t you position yourself and just share with the audience what it is you’re doing and what your market strategy is? And then if it’s okay with you, what I’d love to do is dig into your thoughts and ideas of when you’re looking at financial planning practices to acquire just how you analyse and what you’re looking for, what you run away from. And just so the listeners can see and get a feel from someone who’s in the marketplace actually acquiring businesses, what looks like a good deal to them, because, you know, we can talk all day about what a good deal looks like, the theory behind it, but I’m sure it’s going to have so much more value coming from someone who’s actually out there doing it day to day.

So welcome, Paul Franco.

Thank you very much, Darryl. I’m a 30 year veteran of the financial planning business. I’m in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the United States, and about, oh, I don’t know, maybe 8, 10 years ago I started looking at my business and saying I need to grow and I need to grow fast and how am I going to do it one client at a time. It seems like no matter what marketing I did, I would either, I’d bring on 10, 12, 14 clients a year.

Didn’t matter if I did anything or if I did a whole bunch of things. It just didn’t. And so I looked at the world out there and I saw how old the financial planners and well, all over the world are getting the average age of a financial planner as well into the fifties, maybe even early sixties. And it just seemed to make a lot more sense to me to buy an entire practice and bring on maybe 100 or 200 clients rather than one at a time. And so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last eight years or so, and I’ve done nine or ten of these deals.

Okay. And that type of strategy is known by growth, by acquisition is generally referred to. So Paul, I think you mentioned eight or ten years ago you started with this strategy. How long had you been, now I know you said you’ve been a veteran of the industry, but how long had you been running your own practice for before? And what sort of growth rates?

I think you said what, eight or ten clients a year, or ten to 15 clients a year. And it didn’t matter what marketing you did, it seemed to not influence that. But how long had you been running your business for before you changed or adopted this strategy?

It was about 20ish years, 20-22 years that I’ve been working as a solo practitioner.

So 20 odd years, sort of marginal growth, slow, steady growth. And then you figured out, well, maybe I should start acquiring practices and picking up 100 or so clients per year. So now that you’re acquiring 100 clients of new clients a year, how do you service those?

Well, you know, it just really varies because in some cases the advisor is sticking around for several years and continuing to run it on their own. In other cases, what happens is we have a team of advisors and we’ve just split them up between us. When one classic example is we had a gentleman who I had done a succession agreement with. He was in his late sixties and he had no plans to retire. But then all of a sudden he got fired. He got let go from his firm and called me up on a Saturday morning and said, hey, do you still want to buy my practice? And so we had to jump in and see a whole lot of people very, very quickly, but it quickly weeds itself out, because just like most people’s businesses are like this, where you have your core people that you see regularly, the core people, you know, it’s the 80 20 rule that the core people that are generating the revenue for your business, and then you have an awful lot of people that don’t require an awful lot of service. And so those you can hand off, most of those can be handled by, you know, the support staff in the office for the most part. So somehow we’ve managed to do it.

Beautiful. So how many. So did you mention how many businesses have you acquired now?

Nine or ten. Yeah, we just did a succession agreement with an 81 year old advisor here in Colorado in January.

We’ll dive into that in a second. So of the nine or ten that you have acquired, how many have you looked at pool to get to those buying or making offers on nine or ten?

Oh, boy. It’s probably been about 30 to 50, because you go look at them and you talk to them and you quickly find out that there’s not a fit or they’ve got somebody else in mind that they’re already talking to that’s a better fit for them. Or you look at them and you say, oh, yeah, we’re not going to get along. And so we just, it’s kind of a magical thing when you get to somebody that you really feel like you can work with and you develop a personal relationship with. And that’s kind of the key first step is that personal relationship. But, yeah, there’s a lot of, a lot of talking to people to get to those nuggets of gold, so to speak.

Okay. So when you’re filtering one of your first criteria, is there a match? Is there a fit between, I guess, you and the current owner? And if there’s a match between you and your current owner, what are you thinking? There’s, there’s much more likely to, the transition strategy is going to go smoothly, and if they like you or if you like the owner, there’s a fair chance that the client base is going to fit with you just as much they do with them, that your, your service style is going to be a good fit for the clients. Is that the mental process you’re going through?

Yeah. One of the big things that we do is we have, are four key values that we’ve defined as a team. The first one is that you have to be kind and thoughtful, and that one is non negotiable. If they don’t have that, then we can’t, we probably can’t work together. We want somebody who’s always growing. We want somebody who’s living life to the fullest. And we want somebody who’s got some kind of commitment to service to the community. And like I said, if they’re kind and thoughtful, that’s the one that they have to have. And then we look for of the other ones, of the other three, you know, two out of three, we’re good. And if they don’t have that, we tend, we tend to go elsewhere and say, you know, this maybe isn’t such a great fit. And we find that when we use that screening process is they’re matched with our values that we tend, we tend to avoid a lot of problems. And when we, when we, how do I put it? We had one here recently where I thought, it’s really hard to judge some of these things because everyone’s on their best behavior when you’re first meeting. But we thought we had had a good fit. But once we got into it, we realised we hadn’t honored our values. And it’s always in retrospect, you look at it and you say, gee, that should have been obvious to us, but we haven’t made it as clear as we thought it was and made a mistake with our hiring on that one.

Okay, so have you got some sort of systemised process or a checklist that you use to go through, or are you just doing it from memory and in the moment type of thing?

You know, we have a checklist, and what we’re looking at in our industry is we’re looking at things like, do you have a system for serving your clients? Are you scheduling regular meetings with them? These seem like obvious things, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do this.

Are you contacting your clients regularly? Are you talking to them or having some kind of method of dripping on them at least four times a year? When you look at, like, your support staff, do you have good systems for keeping them around? Do you have, like, incentive compensation? Are you using a payroll service?

Are you doing it on your own? How old are your assistants or the people that are working for you? Are they going to leave when you leave? Or can we count on having that support available? Do you have something in mind as far as, like, what’s your next hire going to be?

Are your clients older than you are? And, you know, a lot of the people that I’m talking to are in their late sixties. Most of them are, or maybe even seventies. And you know how it goes. You tend to work with people your same age or older, and it’s not, it’s not so valuable of a practice if your clients are going to be dying off.

Do you have a system to stay in touch with the next generation of your clients, you know, the children of your clients and, and potentially have some continued relationship when the client passes away? Are you keeping track of business opportunities in the practice? Is the practice growing? I mean, boy, there’s just an awful lot of these things. What tends to happen is people reach a certain age and then the practice sort of plateaus and then sort of starts to decline.

Yeah.

In terms of the revenue and the relationships and that kind of thing. And that makes for a less valuable, less desirable practice.

So, Paul, if I’m reading it right, it’s first let’s get the cultural match, and then let’s start to look at the commercials. And once you start looking at those commercials, have you got a methodology that you use for going, well, here’s how much I think this business is worth. Here’s what I’d pay for it. Is there a formula there that you got in your head?

Yeah, and it’s really quite simple. For most of the practices, we’re looking at just a multiple of revenue because a lot of them, you know, you look at the average advisor that, at least the ones that we’re talking to, it’s usually quite simple. And you can look at it and say, well, well, okay, you know, if we’re going to start at a baseline of saying one times non recurring revenue, two and a half, based on a number of factors, some of which I’ve already mentioned.

Yes.

Are they doing ongoing financial planning and charging a fee for the planning and taking a comprehensive approach that makes the practice worth a lot more. If they’re doing oddball products, for example, I’m talking to an advisor here in Colorado who does a lot of alternatives, and he thinks that’s the greatest thing ever, these alternative investments. But when you’re looking at the value of these things, it lowers the value because for one thing, they’re a compliance headache. Compliance departments don’t tend to like these alternatives.

They don’t tend to like practices that have, you know, a high percentage of these things. So we’re starting at a baseline of saying this is about what practices are going for, but we’ll mark it up or mark it down based on, based on some of these other factors that I’ve mentioned. And then when you get into bigger practices, you’re looking at more like a multiple of EBITDA, and we don’t tend to do a lot of those. We tend to try to keep it as simple as possible, and if we can do it, just, you know. You know.

And it’s interesting because so often when we talk to the advisors, they’re looking at it and say, what? This is what my practice, this is worth. I really had no idea. You know, so they tend to be open and receptive to the idea of keeping it simple and just doing a multiple of recurring.

So that valuation they’re hearing is greater than what they were thinking. 

Generally speaking, yeah. Because an awful lot of these advisors just, they reach a point where they’ve decided that they can no longer work or they’re forced out of the business, and they just shut their door.

Okay. So the type of practices you’re buying are they. Can you describe to us what they look like? What’s a good opportunity for you? What are you looking to get?

You know what? I have an avatar who I call Chuck, and Chuck is a guy who’s usually in his late sixties. He’s sitting in an office with either by himself or he’s got a part time assistant who he’s worked with forever.

Oftentimes it’s his spouse or maybe a child, and he tends not to have any kind of service systems. If you walk into his office, the decor is out of date. You might have a fish tank where the water is about three or four inches lower than it ought to be. He’s happy to, you know, if you drop in, he’ll say, like, oh, I’m a little busy, but, well, I got time for you. And he’s happy to sit down and chat with you.

Loves his family, loves his clients. They love him. It’s oftentimes when you’re sitting there talking to his client, the clients are dropping by and bringing him some cookies that they baked, that kind of thing. But he’s really not working on the business all that much. And so he’s sitting there saying, well, gee, I’d like to exit, but I don’t know what would be nice, just to continue doing this, because I don’t know what I would do.

And when you start the conversation with him, he realises that there’s a nice payout and that he could exit the business. You’ll still say, gee, I’m not sure that I want to leave, but I don’t know, maybe. Maybe if you’ll keep me around for a little bit, which is a big headache for me. By the way, if they decide they want to stick around. And so we’re tending to talk to people that have maybe outlasted their welcome in the industry and really should have already retired, but they haven’t.

And so it tends to be rather a rather simple type arrangement. I’m not having to worry about complex strategies that they’re doing or complex staff or that kind of thing. It’s somebody that really needs to exit.

So am I right in understanding that it’s your classic suburban style financial advisor, been around forever from the old insurance days. Got great relationships. You know, for your average mum and dad type of family, financial planning. May have a couple of high net worth clients in there that they got lucky or the family got lucky and came into some wealth, but apart from that, it’s bread and butter, average, middle of the pack type of thing in your local city area.

Yep. For me, that’s my sweet spot. And one of the reasons why I like those is they tend not to be on the radar of other people who are doing practice acquisitions.

And it’s kind of funny because you talk to them and they’ll say, you know, you ask them like, well, what? How many different firms have you been with? And they’ll say, well, you know, I started with ex firm and then they got bought out by so and so. They’ll say, like, you know, I’d never actually changed firms, but I’ve worked for seven or eight of them because they’ve been bought and consolidated and that kind of thing. They tend to be old school, old school broker type people that are just now getting involved in a fee for service type business.

Sure. So when you bring them in, do you, do you bring them all into a bigger central office location?

No, you know, we try to keep it, and I think this is a part of our value proposition, is we try to keep it as flexible as we can for them. So, you know, we’re in three cities in Colorado and it’s the major cities in the state, so we can service, you know, the clients in all of these areas, but we don’t, we don’t try to bring it in. We don’t try to rebrand them unless they want to.

I think rebranding under our name is the right way to go, but a lot of times people have a lot of pride in their name and their website and that kind of thing, whether it’s deserved or not. But if they say, you know, I just want to continue in my office and continue under my branding and continue working as I am, we’re fine with that. Ideally, what we try to say to them or part of our value proposition is to say, look, let’s simplify your life so you can do more of what you love, because you’re getting pushed out of the industry by the regulatory requirements, by the paperwork you’re doing, less client meeting and more paperwork and more stuff that you’re not really equipped to do. Let us take some of that off your plate so you can focus on these relationships with people who love you and you love them.

So, Paul, I’m guessing you’ve got some sort of vision. What is it you’re looking to build?

You know, we keep saying we want to get to 10 billion in assets by 20, which is a big stretch call for us, because what we want to do is we’re thinking about our own exit strategy, and I have two key partners who are my successors. I’m 59 years old today, actually.

Thank you.

Thank you.

And our plan is to build this giant business so that we can either exit or just continue to grow. For me, I’d like to be like Warren Buffett and keep working till the day I die. And my why? For wanting to build this big business, I want to preserve some key pieces of open space in western Colorado. That’s what I would like my fortune to go to one day.

Okay. So you’ve got a big plan and you’ve got a vision in terms of size, in terms of funds under management and the clients you’re looking after. Have you got a pace of how many businesses you’re acquiring every year? Have you gone some sort of cadence? Have you got a list of that you’re going through to look at prospects?

We’ve been, yeah, we’ve been doing about one to two a year. And this year we said this isn’t enough. Yeah, well, in the past, and we’ve got to get up to four to six. And now what I’m thinking of it more as is not so much the number of businesses, because the number isn’t so much important, it’s the assets. And so what we’d very much like to do is, is to sign agreements with around a billion dollars in assets total this year. If we did that, I’d be happy as can be.

And as you grow, I’m guessing that either you’re going to have to have some sort of team that you can acquire a lot of smaller businesses to make up that assets under management, or, I’m guessing just to maintain the pace, you’re going to have to start acquiring bigger practices.

Yeah, yeah. And one of the things we do, you may be familiar with EOS or entrepreneurial operating systems. We follow that, and we work with an EOS coach, and that’s been transformational because like a lot of businesses, I know how to sell. I know how to go out there and talk to people.

But the day to day running of the business, that’s a mystery sometimes. And we mess it up big time. And so the great thing about EOS is we’ve got it laid out. We’ve got an accountability chart. We know what our next hire is going to be.

We know how many people we need to hire to achieve these goals and just what steps we need to be taking. And the coach is there to say, well, this is realistic or this is not. Here’s what you need to be thinking of in addition to what you’re doing.

Okay. And I’m guessing your role is the visionary.

Yes, it is. Yeah, it is. And thank God I have a business partner who I’m meeting with after this. We have our same page meeting every few weeks where we meet early in the morning and when we just talk about the business. But thank God I have an integrator who is very good with the details, and she’s taking care of all of it and respects my role to just let me go do my thing as the visionary,

We talk about the systems when we’re working with businesses to help them become exit ready, we go. One of the things you need is structure, and one of the things you need is to demonstrate that structure, which shows any potential acquirers that the business isn’t dependent upon the owners, but it depends upon the systems. And most businesses systemise the operations. They don’t systemise the running of the business. And that’s where EOS is such great value, because it is, in our view, the fourth most important system.

Not in any order, but it’s one of the four key systems of having a management system to pull all of the operations, and the marketing machine, which is one of the other systems, the talent machine, pulling all of the systems together. You still need to run it, and so you need a leadership management system. And EOS is as good a model as any.

Yeah, it’s fantastic. And what we’re trying to do, too, is as we’re creating our systems, is name them and trademark them and copyright it.

So, again, with the idea being when somebody comes in and looks at our business, maybe they say, these guys have it figured out, you know, it’s worth paying a premium for this business when we get to that point.

Yet some evidence that it exists, it’s a starting point that exists, then someone’s going to look for the documentation, then they’re going to want to see that it’s being used regularly and updated regularly as well. So. And you’ve got a coach, so I’m assuming all of those, those things are in play. Paul, I’ve got a question.

So you’re looking at increasing the pace of acquisition. What? How do you know when you’re looking at all these? I’m imagining the temptation is there is to just, especially as you want to pick up the pace, to buy almost anything you come across. And it must be tempting to do that.

What is it you must see to go? That there’s no way I’m buying that. And you mentioned earlier that, yeah, you just don’t get on with the current owners and you just know that there’s just probably going to be some friction there when you try and integrate. But what else would it, would you see to go, look, there’s no way I’m touching this. Can you, can you spell that out a bit for us?

Yeah, yeah. A good example is one of the first ones I did, and it was a gentleman named Don. And it was a small practice, totally off the grid, mainly doing a brokerage transactional type business. And I just wanted to buy a business. I wasn’t paying attention to what he, what he was doing.

And about two or three weeks before we were getting ready to close and he was joining our team, I asked him, I just assumed this was going to be a standard thing. I said, well, how are you keeping in touch with your clients? What do you do? What’s your system? And he kind of started laughing and I said, well, I mean, you keep track on the computer and like, you know, make sure that you’re seeing everybody regularly and, you know, have alerts pop up to pick up the phone and call him.

He’s like, no, I don’t do any of that. Said when I need to see somebody, I just drive to their house and drop in and. Which is very old school, like nineteen’s old school. I guess what I’m saying is what not to do because I didn’t think to ask that in advance. And it was a little weird because once he came over, he was only around for about six months and then he pulled the plug and he was gone.

And I’d pick up the phone and call the clients and I’d say, yeah, I’d like to set up a time to meet and they’d say, well, what are you talking about? What do you want to meet? They had no idea. They had no idea what ongoing service was. And I’d say, if I got in front of them, I’d say, well, how was.

When was the last time you talked to Don? And they’d say, I don’t know, 15 years ago when I bought this annuity or this whatever it was. So I had a couple experiences like that, and so now I know better than to just watch and say, okay, well, where are these clients located? You know, what are their expectations nowadays? You can get on teams or Zoom or whatever and do meetings everywhere, and I’ve got clients throughout the United States, but there are an awful lot of clients, if they’re not used to that, that’s a big deal to get them to want to get online.

And a lot of them expect, especially in some of the small towns, they expect somebody to drop by and come visit. Well, I don’t want to be out driving around everywhere, so I got to make sure that there are people that are comfortable, technologically adept enough that they’re. They’re fine getting on the telephone or getting on a teams call.

You remind me, and I see this a lot in a lot of businesses, and not just necessarily related to client service, but all aspects of running a business. And when someone’s running a business or doing something in a particular way, they’re very familiar with it.

It’s their norm. It’s their standard way of doing things. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, taking it for granted that everyone does. This is the baseline. Everyone does it at this level.

And we can. When we’re doing it every day, we tend not to value something. So. And I can see that when you’re doing something and running your business a certain way, it would be easy to fall into the trap. Doesn’t everyone do it this way?

This is the baseline. Everyone’s doing it like this. So, yeah, good to have that checklist in place of using it as a filter and just remembering of all the various bits and pieces you need to check in on and asking when you’re assessing a potential new business to acquire, similar to how you set up new clients, I imagine.

Yeah. Yeah. You know, another example might be, you know, I had one. This was actually the very first one I did. The thing that I didn’t realise was that the assistant in the business, long time assistant, had expected to be taking over the business, and I didn’t know that. And had I known that, I wouldn’t have done it because I would have encouraged her, maybe done sort of some sort of partnership with her, but not knowing that this assistant wanted to buy the business or not, I didn’t do my due diligence to find out that this lady expected a piece of it. And at the time, this was early on in my career about, you know, let’s say maybe 20,20ish years ago.

And what ended up happening is she split off and went into her, you know, got her securities licenses, started her own shop, and then ended up siphoning away a lot of the clients. And had I known that, I might have gone the other direction and said, now this is maybe let’s let this one, let’s let her have it. That seems to make more sense.

Yeah. And we’ve all got those stories of lessons learned the hard way, haven’t we?

Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

So let’s flip it around. Paul, let’s go. Okay. There’s potentially people out there who are listening to this podcast, and they may or may not be direct in your neighbourhood, but they’re looking to start think about, hey, look, I do I want to sell my planning practice or my business. What are the things, the advice, the tips that you would give them? And I know this may be shooting yourself in the foot somewhat because they’re going to increase the valuation of their business, but what are the things that you would encourage them to do if they’re thinking about selling their business to someone like yourself to make their business really more attractive and to get that deal to go through nice and easily so it’s a win for both parties.

I would be looking at the client base as a starting point and saying, all right, what’s going to happen when the person acquires the business is they’re going to go through a process and say, all right, I want these clients here, but I don’t want these other ones. And so often what people do is they have a client base of, let’s say, 500 people, but they’re really only servicing the top.

What I would be doing is I would be looking at your client base. I would be segmenting them. I would be saying, all right, this group here, they don’t really fit me. Let’s go ahead and sell those off, or maybe I’ll turn them into the home office, that kind of thing. Start doing some of that work that the, that the acquirer is going to be doing anyway.

I would be looking at the recurring revenue in your practice. So often people have, especially the old timers, they have assets under management that they’re not getting paid on. I would be looking, of course, it has to be in the client’s interest, but is there an opportunity to move the assets into something that’s generating recurring revenue? Revenue? I would be looking at developing those relationships with the children of the key clients, not all of them, but maybe your top 20, so that you can, if they pass away, you’ve got that relationship and you retain the assets.

I would be looking at making sure that your, your assistant is somebody that’s going to stick around or somebody that if they’re going to retire, maybe encourage them to retire now and then find the, the next generation of somebody to be there. I’d be looking very carefully at your client demographics because like I was saying before, the clients tend to age with you. And I would be looking for opportunities to bring in some younger folks because that helps evaluation to have younger people in there. Growth is important for the business. You know, so often people’s businesses stop growing and you may not necessarily want it to grow, but you got to have some measure of growth if you want your valuation to be a little bit higher.

Boy, there’s an awful lot of these things that you could look at. I would just make sure that you’re thinking about what the seller wants and what the seller is going to want and start putting those things in place now. And actually, as the buyer, I say the seller. I meant to say the buyer. And as the buyer, I actually would prefer that they take care of these things.

Even though it goes, it increases the purchase price. It vastly simplifies your life if they’ve already taken care of some of these things.

Right. So you’re saying, so it actually, you know, you want a business that’s already well run, it means that the transaction is going to happen better, faster. It’s already profitable.

Are you already also looking into the client base that you’re acquiring and going, okay, where’s the opportunity? Where can I take this client base so that I can leverage the valuation that’s already there? Or are you basically getting the arbitrage and going, well, look, if I buy this smaller practice, I put it into my bigger practice, immediately the valuation goes up because it’s now part of a bigger, a bigger business.

Yeah, it’s both of those things. Because there’s always going to be some nuggets of gold in the practice that make it worth buying. But oftentimes what you end up with and that gentleman, Don, that I was telling you about, oftentimes what you end up with is almost like a list of warm leads. Because they bought something 10,15 years ago doesn’t mean they care that much about the current advisor, and they certainly don’t care about you, especially if you’re living in another city.

Yeah. So you’ve got to make sure that you capture that. And like any leads, you don’t want them slipping through the net.

Yeah. Okay. So, Paul, I’m just thinking, you’ve got a process where you, it sounds like you’re very systemised, you’re very structured. You’ve got a process where you go through and identifying and filtering out practices that you want to buy. You’ve got a big vision of where you’re going.

You know exactly the process of integrating these businesses. And it sounds like you’re not, you’re fairly open and flexible on the way, the way you do that. What haven’t we covered in terms of, I guess, what’s the key message you want listeners to take out of our conversation that will help them prepare for exit?

I think preparing for exit needs to be something that you start right away, even if you’re a young advisor, but certainly if you’re in your fifties, even your forties, you better be thinking about that because so often what happens is you don’t get a choice of when you’re going to exit. Your health changes, your spouse tells you that you need to get out of the business.

Your firm decides they don’t want you anymore. You run into some compliance issue, you get shoved out of the business more often than not. And what we hear a lot of times is people say, well, I’m just going to stick around. You know, I don’t intend to retire. You can’t count on that.

You’ve got to be ready for it. And so what I would be thinking about is, what’s your next stage in life? Because so often people don’t know what they’re going to be doing. What are you going towards? Not what you’re leaving.

You know, what is your vision of what you’re going to be doing when you, when you exit your business? Because you got to be ready for that time when it’s thrown in your lap that you’re leaving. And so do what you can now to increase the value of it and have some plan in mind. And I can give you several examples of people who have sold their business and then they still don’t know what they’re doing. And you talk to them a year later and you say, well, how you doing?

Well, you know, honestly, I’m a little bit bored. I don’t exactly know what I should be doing. Or they start some career that they, you know, some other thing like maybe they’ll sell real estate, which is just sort of a hobby. They haven’t figured out what they want to do. But prepare your business for sale before the value starts to decrease, because that’s what happens with most of them.

They hit the practice value peaks at around the 60ish age and then continues to decline. Get it sold while it’s at its peak.

So top tip from Paul Franco. Get your business exit ready so that it’ll be ready when you’re ready to exit. And you’ll get to do it on your terms and make sure the money works.

You said that very nicely, more succinctly, succinctly than I did.

My job is just to pull together all the great ideas from the guests on the show. So, Paul, I really appreciate you sharing your insights with us today.

Thank you very much for having me and allowing me to be on your podcast. Darryl, I really appreciate that.

And for all the listeners, we’ll put some links in the show notes and on the website because I think you’ve got some good things that you want to share with people that just help them tap into everything you’ve learned.

Yeah. Thank you. I sure appreciate it.

About Paul Franco

Certified Financial Advisor and Practice Acquisition Expert

Paul Franco is a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant, Behavioral Financial Advisor, and founder of Life Well Lived Financial Group, an independent wealth management firm. A thirty-year veteran of the financial advising industry, Paul operates three locations in Colorado, where he enjoys skiing, hiking, running, fishing, and traveling.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about how to start preparing your business, then you can get more information here: It All Begins with Insights.

Darryl Bates-Brownsword

Darryl Bates-Brownsword

CEO | Succession Plus UK

Darryl is a dynamic, driven Business Mentor and Coach with over 20 years of experience and passion for creating successful outcomes for founder-led businesses. He is a great connector, team builder, problem solver, and inspirer – showing the way through complexity to simplicity.

He has built 2 international multi-million turnover businesses; one now operating in 16 countries. His quick and analytical approach cuts through to the core issues quickly and identifying the context. He challenges the status quo and gets consistent, repeatable and reliable business results.

Originating in Australia, Darryl’s first career was as an Engineer in the Power Industry. Building businesses brought him to the UK in 2003 where he quickly developed a reputation for combining systems thinking with great creativity to get results in challenging situations.

A keen competitive cyclist, he also has a B Eng (Mech) Engineering and an MBA.