The Exit Planning Institute (EPI) hosts an annual international conference. This event, deemed the Exit Planning Event of the Year, gathers the robust international group of more than 200 Certified Exit Planning Advisors (CEPA) and various professional advisors within the exit planning field. Five countries were represented at the 2013 conference with advisors from Mexico, Canada, Australia, Germany and the United States. Learn more about the event from Scott Snider, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Exit Planning Institute.
About the GuestScott is a passionate Cleveland entrepreneur who started his first business at the age of 17. After successfully selling his first business in 2010, Scott partnered with his father, Chris, and together they founded Snider Premier Growth, Inc., a private investment firm in Cleveland.
He is a recognized young entrepreneur and has been featured locally in "The Plain Dealer," nationally on "ABC News Now," has been published and quoted in various publications and is a recipient of the Northeast Ohio 25 Under 35 Movers and Shakers Award.
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Read the Full Transcript Here:Noah Rosenfarb: Hey, it’s Noah Rosenfarb with another of our exit strategy podcasts for Divestopedia. Today, we have a little bit of a break in the action and we’re talking specifically about the Exit Planning Institute and their upcoming conference. I’ve got Scott Snider. He’s the Vice President of sales and marketing. Scott interestingly is an entrepreneur who also sold the company, runs a bunch of businesses at Snider Premiere Growth and also is actively involved in the Exit Planning Institute. Scott has a lot of information and value to offer to all of us. Today, we’d like to talk about the upcoming EPI conference. Scott, thanks for joining us.
Scott Snider: Thank you very much for having me. I really appreciate it and look forward to talking about exit planning and the conference coming up here on September.
Noah Rosenfarb: Yeah. What are the dates again and where’s the location? Let’s get some of that content out for our listeners.
Scott Snider: Yes. The Exit Planning Institute has an international conference that’s coming to Cleveland Ohio. If anybody’s familiar with Cleveland we did a full - I’m from Cleveland as well so maybe I’m a little biased to the Cleveland market, but it’s a great time to be involved in the city of Cleveland especially when you’re hosting conferences. The conference is going to be at the Cleveland Convention Center and Global Health Center. They just built it. It literally had just been finished up this summer. They just last month had a grand opening so we’ll be one of the first conferences to be held in a brand-new building. It’s all high-tech, it’s all brand new, and it’s pretty exciting. That conference is going to be held on September 17th through the 19th.
Noah Rosenfarb: Great. Let’s talk about who’s going to be there, what might people learn. Maybe you could start with your keynote because I see you have Dr. Paglia coming.
Scott Snider: We do have John Paglia as our keynote speaker, from Pepperdine University. He will be our opening keynote speaker and will be talking about exit planning and private capital markets. He’s actually going to be doing a small survey of the certified exit planning advisors at the Exit Planning Institute, taking some of the information from that survey and presenting some of those results incorporated in his presentation of the morning of his keynote, so we’re very excited to have him. He’ll be with the conference all week so I’m sure a lot of people will get to meet him, talk to him and pick his mind for other insight and knowledge.
Noah Rosenfarb: Great. What else might people learn if they come for those three days?
Scott Snider: The conference is quite robust. It’s very informative and educational. On the pre-conference, we’re going to have guru sessions. There are about six guru sessions at the conference and those are really a little bit different from your typical breakout sessions. They will be a little bit longer in length - they go about an hour and a half or two hours - and there’s a wide variety of things that you can actually pick from.
We have everything from structuring effective buy-sell agreements, to how to sell, exit planning. We even have a guru session called Exit Planning therapy, which is kind of navigating the whole family dynamic and conflict dynamic of family businesses. We have a few pretty well known and world-renowned kinds of speakers and we are very excited to have that. That’s very different, I think, to the conference, those guru sessions.
There are also about five different tracks of five breakout sessions that we’ll have. There’s over 20 breakout sessions going on over the next two or three days after that. We have our tracks, our sales and marketing, family businesses, main street businesses, value enhancement, and mergers and acquisitions. So, like I said, there’s over 20 breakout sessions there so there’s certainly something that I think our professional advisors and even some owners might be interested in being a part of.
One of the other very interesting part of our conference, at EPI, we really like to provide some very unique and innovative learning experiences and I think this is certainly one of them. We’re having a valuation debate between Mike Adhikari and Robert Stutz. Mike is from Business ValueXpress and he’s also a big AM&AA guy as well as Roberty Stutz who is from Western Reserve Partners. That session is sponsored by NACVA and they will be debating the different methods of valuing a business. Mike and Rob have two different styles of valuing a business. They’re going to get a case study and that will be presented on Thursday morning so that will be our first general session on Thursday morning and that should be a very, very interesting, I think, debate. As a person who values businesses ourselves through our consulting firm, it’s interesting to see a more traditional way of valuating a business versus a more, you know, a little bit non-traditional way so it should be again a fairly interesting debate in the morning. Then if anybody knows Scott Miller who is also on our faculty for our certified exit planning advisor program as well as a part of NACVA as well, he will be moderating that debate. So that’s certainly a very unique thing.
Lastly, what we did here at the Exit Planning Institute is we got together with Grant Thornton, Kent State University and PNC Bank. The four of us all got together and we wanted to understand how owners are feeling right now in regards to how ready they are to transition their business. What we found is that there’s not a lot of information or data points post recession - there’s a lot of stuff prior to the recession but not post - so after 2008 there’s really not a lot of things there so we’re trying to understand what did the recession do to business owners. Did it make them a little bit more ready? Did they get a little bit more serious about planning for their exits or planning for transition, or are they more in growth mode so they’re still not really focusing on the end goal and they’re focused on really trying to grow?
So what we did was we took a survey of business owners - and this project is called the State of Ownership Readiness - and we took a survey of business owners and those results are being actually compiled right now as we speak and they will be presented for the first time and reviewed over lunch also on Thursday afternoon at the conference, so that should be a pretty good information session, or session for both professional advisors and owners. Lastly, more of an event than an educational piece is the Excellence and Exit Planning Awards. The Excellence and Exit Planning Awards will be hosted on Wednesday evening, and what we’re really trying to do there is recognize some business owners and some professional advisors that are really doing things right.
One of the statistics say that 80% of companies out there are not salable, but that means 20% are and 20% more than likely transition successfully. We want to recognize those business owners and those advisors that work with those business owners, because sometimes as much as you learn perhaps from the negative, I think we also learn a lot from the positive aspects as well. So on Wednesday evening we are having the Excellence and Exit Planning Awards - it’s our first annual event - we will be recognizing one, the Exit Planner of the Year, which is a professional advisor, and then we’ll be recognizing the Exit of the Year, which is going to be a business owner. There’ll be some other awards that are being handed out at that time as well. That’s kind of all the key points of our conference and I think from us chatting here for a little bit now, I think we’ll find that the conference is pretty action-packed so we’re really, really excited to be hosting the conference for everybody.
Noah Rosenfarb: That sounds great. So September 17, 18, 19, Cleveland, Ohio. If you go to exitplanningconference.com people could find more information and register there. How about for listeners that are either owners or advisors to owners that can’t make it? Tell us more about EPI, and outside of the conference what kind of work do you do to help owners and their advisors?
Scott Snider: The Exit Planning Institute is an educational institution and we really provide three things. We provide innovative learning experiences, performance-enhancing resources and strategic tools to enhance the exit planning profession. We also have a certification program called the Certified Exit Planning Advisor or CEPA, and what I would say for business owners is that when you’re looking at transitioning your business or you’re looking at exiting your business I would recommend that you look into working with a certified exit planning advisor because these advisors really get together with all the business advisors in a collaborative and educational atmosphere to really draw upon all their combined expertise to really better serve the business owners’ needs. The CEPA can be an attorney, a true exit planner that’s practicing exit planning on a day to day basis, they could be an accountant, and they could be a financial planner, but really if you’re a certified exit planning advisor you understand a little bit about what each of those realms of advising they’re doing, what are they all advocating and what are they all looking for.
You know a little bit about each and that you’re kind of the quarterback of the team. That’s what we would advise in regards to when you’re looking at selling your business or transitioning. You go online and you look at some of the certified exit planning advisors that are helping you out there, as well as there’s a lot of resources and tools on our website that I think the owners can benefit from as well. The conference is certainly open as well to business owners. I think that it’s always important for owners, being an owner myself, to know what’s going on in the realm of exit planning and why it’s important.
One of our major themes here at the Exit Planning Institute this year is simply that exit strategy is business strategy. What we’re saying there is that by looking that there’s really no difference between exit strategy and business strategy and that by looking at the end and using that as your starting point as kind of access your road map is that you have to know where you want to go to get there, so exit strategy and business strategy. I would say from a business owner standpoint that we all challenge ourselves to really look at that and really understand what that means.
Noah Rosenfarb: Yeah, that was great. The type of training that you guys do for advisors, does it differ for a lawyer than for a financial adviser or an investment banker?
Scott Snider: The education?
Noah Rosenfarb: Correct.
Scott Snider: The education, no it doesn’t. There’s a bunch of levels really of education. We have our highest level, which is the CEPA, our certification program, and then there’s also webinars that are hosted and there’s also at the chapter level - we have local chapters throughout the United States and also in Australia and Canada - they have their local chapter meetings there. From a CEPA standpoint it doesn’t really matter what area you’re coming in from, what type of professional advisor you are. You’re really getting the full process and you’re really starting to understand, you know, you’re really good at looking at those types of things but you might not necessarily understand what the insurance provider is looking for or the financial planner. You get insight on what each one of those professionals are looking for. It’s a very broad education process.
The webinars that we offer online which you can also have continuing education credits for, which is always helpful for people, those are a lot more specific. There might be a legal-oriented one, there might be a financial planning oriented one, there might be a psychology oriented one, and then as well as the local level when you have your chapter meetings. Those as well are very specific topics that people within that market are wanting to learn about. For example, here in Cleveland Ohio we have the Ohio chapter, our chapter meeting, at the beginning of this month, the topic was exit readiness. We had a consultant come in, a part of the group and talked to the group about the process of getting a business owner ready and then how do you define readiness and attractiveness from a business owner standpoint, and when you’re the seller and how do business owners as buyers look at your business and the standpoint of readiness and attractiveness. Again, those are very specific topics, and then the CEPA program is very broad.
Noah Rosenfarb: Yeah. Well, that’s great. The advisors that are listening to the call, what’s the best way for them to just start interacting with you?
Scott Snider: A couple of ways. I think the very best way is to certainly leap on the website. Everything that we’re talking about today, especially the conference stuff, is right there on top of the website. You’ve already mentioned one way to get involved in the conference - It’s exitplanningconference.com - but our EPI website is exit-planning-institute.org, so if you pop on there it’s a pretty easily navigated website. You can see all the information there and you can learn more about the CIPA program, learn more about the conference, see what other events that are coming up. If you’re listening and you’re in the North Texas area, we have an Exit Planning Awareness event coming up on September 6, in the morning at 7:30. You can go online and look more into that as well if that’s something that interests you.
If you’re not on there you can always email me directly. My direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or fee free to always pick up the phone and give me a call. My number is 440-655-2159.
Noah Rosenfarb: That’s great. For business owners, if they log on to your site, is there a way for them to interact with you also? Can they get on a list so they could listen to your webinars?
Scott Snider: Yeah, most definitely. All of our webinars are free of charge, so if you pop on there you can definitely find the webinars pretty easily under the Events section. Also, when you pop on there there’s two different interfaces so you’ll see once you get on there at the top of the page at the left, it says 'Business Owner Resources’ and then to the right it says 'Business Advisor Resources’. You can click on either/or and it will give you two different interfaces depending on what you’re trying to look for. It’s a little bit easier navigated that way as well, but yes, all the webinars I think will be - we have a lot of business owners on our webinars actually and those can be found under the Events section of the EPI website.
Noah Rosenfarb: Maybe you could tell our listeners more about why you’re passionate around exit planning and the impact that’s happening to you professionally, personally and what you’re hoping for for the future.
Scott Snider: I think that’s a very interesting topic. For me, one of the best events that I actually went to this summer was an EPI event at San Francisco. Our Northern California chapter hosted an educational event and it was really cool. It was how young entrepreneurs are using exit strategy as business strategy. It was cool to see a bunch of business owners in the room that were under the age of 40 and thinking already about - and when you really think of a business owner that’s probably between the age of 25 and 40, you usually think that they’re probably very growth, you know, very sales and marketing growth kind of minded in their business - but it was interesting to see them very focused on using exit strategy as business strategy.
Being young myself, I think it’s critical to plan because you never know when opportunity or unfortunately when negativity’s going to strike the business. For me, my personal story is I owned a business really my whole working career and at the age of 24 I had the opportunity to sell that business. Luckily, my business partner and father, Chris, was an exit planner and was a mergers and acquisitions professional so I certainly was exposed to it and knew about it and always taking the advice from my dad. We were ready to do so when the time came, but who would ever have thought, at age 24, a knock on your door comes and somebody wants to buy your business because they find it valuable. If you’re not ready then opportunity might walk right out the door and it might not ever come back.
From that standpoint, it’s extremely important to be ready and be prepared, and then from a different standpoint if tragedy ever strikes your family business - somebody passed away or somebody gets disabled, you know, how does a business going to run, what does it look like - and if everything’s going the right way, perhaps maybe another option is that it’s just time to sell. It’s time to move on in your career, it’s time to do something else. Your business is extremely valuable and you want to sell, but unfortunately it might not be ready to sell. Out of those three scenarios I think they’re all important that we look at exit strategy as really how we run our business.
For the Exit Planning Institute, the founders Peter Christman and Rich Jackim founded the organization on a book that they wrote called the Ten Trillion Dollar Opportunity. The Ten Trillion Dollar Opportunity really talks about the ten trillion dollars of wealth that is going to be transferred with the baby boomer generation, and that’s a pretty significant amount. Actually, if you really look into it, it’s the largest wealth transfer in the history of mankind. It’s a pretty big deal. The baby boomers started turning 65, I believe, in 2011, and I know for a fact actually that the statistic is 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States everyday, and that 65% of privately held businesses are owned by that generation. I think those are some pretty significant numbers.
So I think it’s extremely important, when we’re thinking about this from an economic standpoint, that we really need to be ready because if these businesses, if we say that 80% of businesses are not salable so 80% potentially of that $10 trillion isn’t able to transfer, what does that look from an economic standpoint? That’s really why it interests me, not only because I think it’s always in our best interest as business owners to be prepared but I also think that from an economic standpoint we almost have an obligation to get business owners - as professional advisors - to get business owners prepared for a successful exit so that everybody’s happy, so that the business owner’s happy when they transfer, and that really the rest of the people around are happy and that a company’s stable. Again, being at the largest transfer of private wealth in history I think we have a huge opportunity as professional advisors to really help business owners be successful in their transition. That’s why we’re really passionate about it.
Another nice interesting tidbit here is that Chris Snider, my father, who is also the President and CEO of the Exit Planning Institute, is extremely passionate about exit planning. Before we were owners of the Exit Planning Institute, we were members. We owned a consulting firm - and we still do - that does some selective exit planning and mergers and acquisitions work here in the Northeast Ohio market. Chris chaired the first annual EPI conference in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He also sat on their Board of Governors and then we founded the first chapter for EPI here in Northeast Ohio so we were, especially Chris, was a very, very active EPI member. It was just a natural progression for us when Pete and Rich thought about transitioning the business themselves and kind of fulfilling and implementing their own exit strategy that we would kind of take over and we were really passionate about the profession of exit planning and more so, passionate about helping other business advisors be successful at this realm so that their business owner clients were successful. So us, as a group here, at Snider Premiere Growth and the Snider family, are very, very passionate about what we’re doing here at the Exit Planning Institute and just the general realm of exit planning.
Noah Rosenfarb: Maybe you could comment, you know, you might be preaching to the choir so our listeners tend to be people that are willing and able to collaborate in an atmosphere to help their business owner clients, but the field of exit planning is growing but there’s a lot of resistance - resistance among accountants, resistance among lawyers - to approach clients and discuss exit planning, exit planning strategy and then collaborate with other advisors. Do you agree or disagree with what I’m saying and how do you think that might impact the type of work that you guys want to do?
Scott Snider: Well, I would agree. I would agree that typically exit planning is - I don’t want to say frowned upon - but certainly not an easy topic to talk about with a business owner, and then from a professional advisor and collaboration standpoint sometimes there’s a little bit of unwillingness to work together, but I will say two things. I think that they both can be broken down and I think that at least her in Northeast Ohio and what we’re doing locally with our 45-4member chapter, is that we really are working together because if the business owner client is successful then we as professional advisors are going to be successful.
If you follow a process, so first off from working together it’s kind of like any team. The business owner is going to have a multiple person team that they need to advise them throughout their whole business career especially when one of the biggest events of either definitely their business life and certainly their personal life the transition and sale of their business. They need a well-rounded solid team that’s all working together. I think that it helps that they all follow a similar type process. When we go in as a certified exit planning advisor we start to take them through the first stages of the exit readiness assessment that we do as well as the business valuation. We’ll find a few things - obviously, no business is perfect - we’ll find a few things that could create a little bit more value in their business and that is an opportunity for other advisors to get involved.
Maybe they don’t really have a sound financial plan so we’ll get a financial planner involved. Maybe they don’t have enough insurance stuff so we’ll get an insurance provider involved. Maybe they need some legal work so we’ll get an attorney involved, or maybe they need some fresher financials or they need some things moved around and their financial documents so we’ll get an accountant involved. So I think that there are certainly opportunities for other advisors to work together and I think it’s, you know, we’re advocating the same type of process and philosophies and we’re looking at the end goal in mind to say that if the business owner can successfully transition this business, we will all benefit from it and we will all be successful.
So exit planning generally talking to business owners I can tell you, again, flipping from more of a practitioner standpoint being a consultant myself in our business here in Cleveland, that’s one of the reasons where we talk about exit strategy as business strategy. If you approach a client, especially perhaps when we talk about the San Francisco group, talking about young entrepreneurs as clients. If you’re a young guy, you’re not necessarily concerned about exiting a business, right? When I was 24 I wasn’t thinking about, "Okay, I know one day this is going to transition. I might get old. I can’t do this my whole life."
If they’re thinking about exit strategy as a business strategy I think it’s a little easier to get your foot in the door because again it’s really, you want to create that roadmap to the end goal, so you have to know what the end goal is in order to get there. You have to define that roadmap, which is really the exit strategy or the transition strategy, and that’s really what you have to be working towards. Whether it be, you know, of any age business owner, I think that will hit home with them on different levels, and if you could tell a business owner that you could create more value in their business or you could make their business more valuable, why wouldn’t they necessarily want to listen to that or at least take a couple of meetings with you?
But if you’re approaching them with the end goal in mind like, "You know, we might only have five or ten years left of this business." Obviously that’s something that you’re uncomfortable with because as all business owners know, you’re very attached to your business and your business is like another baby, like a kid to you sometimes. It’s really what you love and where you dump all your energy and passion into so it’s hard to put the end of mind, but I think it’s relatively easy to talk about a roadmap to success or how we create more value in your business. That’s how we really get around those kinds of issues when we’re trying to work together with our advisors or if we’re trying to get our foot in the door with a potential client, or even with one of our current clients that we feel needs to be better prepared or do a little bit more planning.
Noah Rosenfarb: So why don’t we do a quick wrap-up? Obviously, we talked about EPI, the EPI conference, tools for owners, tools for advisors and owners. If you’d like to give out your name, your contact information and your email and phone number one more time, that will be great. Of course, our listeners could always find this on divestopedia.com and they’ll get all your information right there. Scott, why don’t you give them all your stuff one more time?
Scott Snider: Sure. Again, thanks everybody for listening in. I appreciate you having me. For me, my contact information again is, my name is Scott Snider. I’m the Vice President of sales and marketing for the Exit Planning Institute. You can get all of my contact information on our website, which is exit-planning-institute.org, or again feel free to give me a call. It’s 440-655-2159.
Noah Rosenfarb: Great. Well, thanks so much for joining us today. All of our listeners, please don’t forget to rate us on iTunes. Send us your feedback either on the Divestopedia site or email me email@example.com. We’ll look forward to having you back here to listen to our next show, and thanks again to Scott for joining us. Take care and have a great day.
Scott Snider: Thanks again, Noah. I appreciate it.