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Merging an Accounting Firm

Mergers and Acquisitions of Accounting Firms

Originally published in The CPA Journal, December 2017 
Mergers and acquisitions are a typical way for accounting firms to grow, expand into new markets, build expertise, and provide for succession. But not all mergers are true combinations of equals, not all firms are ideal matches, and not all acquisitions are structured the same way.
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Accounting Firm M&A in the World of the Coronavirus

Originally published in AccountingToday, April 2020
The economic downturn we are experiencing is clearly unprecedented. The projected drop in the GDP and level of unemployment are anticipated to be as bad as the Great Depression. 
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Never Take a Practice Merger Off the Table

Originally published on PICPA.org, March 2020
About 20% of all CPAs who have the ability to decide when and if they will retire will simply choose “turn out the lights” as their exit strategy. That means, essentially, one day they will walk away from their practice or possibly sell what may be left when the practice is a shell of its former self.
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Getting Ahead of Next Tax Season

Originally published in Accounting Today, November 2019
While the smoothest tax season might be one with no surprises, the practitioner who anticipates and is ready for unexpected issues will sleep better at night knowing they are prepared.
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Evaluating Culture in M&A

Originally published in Accounting Today, November 2019
In our experience, the parties to most mergers & acquisitions between accounting firms focus a lot of attention initially on clients, service mix, and billing rates during the initial stages of the process.
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What's Driving Upstream Mergers?

Originally published in Accounting Today, June 2019
Traditionally, an overwhelming number of firms seeking to merge upstream have done so to address partner succession.
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After the Merger: Creating a Culture of Success

Originally published in Journal of Accountancy, December 2018
Incorporating the right components into a post-closing integration plan improves the odds for a smooth transition and positive results..
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Making 2+2=5 in a Merger

Originally published in AccountingToday, October 2018
The real test in assessing a target firm for a potential merger or acquisition is evaluating how profitable the seller’s practice will be once combined with the acquiring firm’s operating environment..
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Building a State-of-the-Art M & A Target

Journal of Accountancy, August 2018
A firm can enrich its value to prospective suitors by investing in a top-notch IT infrastructure and exhibiting a willingness to embrace new technologies.
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Five Ways to Beautify Your Firm for M&A

Originally published in AccountingToday, July 2018
It was not that long ago that it was a seller's marketplace in CPA firm mergers and acquisitions, but for most marketplaces in this country and especially for larger firms, it has become a buyer's marketplace. As a result, it has never been more important to make your firm more attractive to a successor firm.
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The Emotional Side of Firm M & A

Originally published in AccountingToday, July 2017
While much has been written about the technical and financial aspects of mergers and acquisitions between accounting firms, one of the most important but often overlooked stages of the process involves the emotional side of an affiliation.
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Roadblocks to Avoid in Accounting Firm M&A

Originally published in the Journal of Accountancy, September 2015
Whether you are buying or selling, these tips can help you navigate the potential pitfalls on the road to closing the deal.
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Seven Steps to Closing a Succession Sale

Originally published in Journal of Accountancy, December 2013
Key to a successful merger or acquisition is keeping the process moving. For firm leaders, there is rarely any item of greater importance than a merger they are pursuing. The adage time kills all deals is absolutely true with mergers.
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Mergers Emerge as Dominant Trend

Originally published in Journal of Accountancy, July 2013
Powerful forces are transforming the accounting profession in the United States. The Baby Boomers are heading into their retirement years. Baby Boomer CPAs are in charge of most U.S. accounting firms. And most U.S. accounting firms don't have a signed succession or practice-continuation plan in place.
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Bridging Compensation Gaps in a Merger

Originally published in the Journal of Accountancy January 2012
Accounting-firm mergers must overcome numerous obstacles. One of the most common—and challenging—involves compensation and benefits for partners and staff. Merging firms usually have differences in compensation levels, compensation methods and benefits packages. It’s crucial for staff and partner retention that the merging firms combine the varying systems into one without people feeling like they came out losers.
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The Great Mystery: How Do Billing Rates and Profitability Affect a Firm’s Worth?

Originally published in the Practicing CPA by the AICPA July/August 2011
When you are buying a CPA firm, historical profit is almost irrelevant. Even less relevant are the partner billing rates. What? How can that be? When establishing the value of any business isn’t its profitability the most important metric to consider? Isn’t partner billing rates the most important way to know if two firms are a good fit?
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Considering an Acquisition

Originally published in Professional's Corner CCHGroup.com/Partners Spring 2011
After the death of his partner in Hevia Beagles & Co., Dan Hevia continued the practice as sole owner. As time passed, the St. Petersburg, Fla., CPA found that running a six-person firm on his own was daunting. It wasn’t just the burden of carrying all decision-making responsibility. Hevia had no one to share the cost of long-term investments in equipment, marketing and training — investments he needed to keep the firm healthy until his planned retirement, still nearly a decade away. Besides, how could he plan that retirement with no partners to succeed him?
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Good M&A Deals Start with Strong Leadership

Originally published in the CPATrendlines.com November 2010
The characteristics of the firms we work with that are the most successful are found in their leadership. The most agile firms have strong leaders that are able and willing to make informed decisions quickly. Firms that cannot make decisions quickly find that M & A opportunities pass them by.
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Succession Planning: What Are the Roadblocks in Most Mergers? Is Anything "Easy"?

Originally published in the June 2010 CPA Practice Management Forum, a monthly journal published by CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
After being involved with hundreds of mergers and acquisitions of accounting firms over the past 20 years, we have found a trend: the bumps in the road are the same whether the mergers are between firms of equals or a smaller firm is merging into a larger one. Conversely, some surprising things are not as hard to overcome as one might think.
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Mergers & Acquisitions of CPA Firms: Understanding the Roadblocks To Successful Deals (Part 1 of 2)

Originally published in the Journal of Accountancy, March 2009 
Despite the best intentions of all involved parties, some CPA firm mergers and acquisitions are not as successful as originally planned; indeed, some end as failures. When viewed in perfect hindsight, it often seems that simple common sense, or lack thereof, was the reason for the success or failure of a deal. Unfortunately, there is no specific formula for structuring a perfect deal, but a good understanding of the potential hazards relating to the variables involved and planning for the unexpected can help your firm prepare a better deal structure and business plan.
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