What we found from experience, having done one acquisition and working on two others now, is to make sure we’re clear as to what the current owners are trying to achieve. The guys and the gals who are out there just for the largest amount of money, we may not be a great fit.
Nevertheless, if our cultures work together, if they’re looking to sell off gradually into the sunset, well, that’s marvelous. Or, if they’re going to take the check and are gone the next day, whatever it is, we’re meeting with that client and digging into, “What do you want and why?” And we found that information exchange to be very valuable as we go back later.
These things can get very sticky, and it seems like sometimes the client or the seller is actually changing their mind as to what they want, as they get more factors that are bringing information into the mix. Opinions change, and it’s almost an emotional thing, especially for an advisor who’s been in the business for any period of time, 20 to 30 to 40, 50 years. It is a complete lifestyle change for them, and we find it to be very hard for many of the advisors to want to sail away.
Most of us think we’re invincible, you know, “We’re going to do this thing until they take us out feet first.” That sounds great, and I hope to be doing this until they wheel me off. The facts are not necessarily matching up with the way it’s going to be, but getting over that emotional hurdle helps us with the people we’re discussing or the sellers we’re talking to and why they are doing it. “Why do you want this thing to take place?” Then if we know the whys, we can help build the exit strategy and/or the merger strategy to where everything works together. That’s the biggest thing.
D. Kyle Atkins, CLU, CFP, is a 26-year MDRT member from Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA. Hear more in the MDRT Podcast: