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Advisers face ‘notoriously difficult’ challenges in private business valuations

Succession Plus CEO Craig West
By Tony Zhang
07 October 2021 — 1 minute read

New analysis has found that the riskiest component for advisers when putting together a client portfolio or retirement plan is valuing a client’s privately owned business, according to a succession planning firm.

Recent research conducted by Australian business succession and exit planning firm Succession Plus revealed a continuing pattern in that it is “notoriously difficult” for privately owned businesses to be valued, as most financial advisers are not qualified or licensed to do so “through no fault of their own”.

This can be problematic for owners and those in related SMSFs, with the research showing that 90 per cent of business owners’ wealth is usually tied up in business and related assets.

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One of the key findings also noted that few respondents considered financial advisers in regard to business valuation, with accountants and lawyers both being preferred more.

Succession Plus CEO Craig West said appropriate valuation of a business involves techniques that consider macroeconomic factors, industry drivers, and business risk, and because of this, advisers should engage with a succession planning specialist.

“At its core, business valuation is about determining two key things, the same things needed to value any type of asset: return and risk,” Mr West said.

Areas that advisers should be well versed on when valuing a business include add-backs (remove personal expense), comparative sales, identifying a purpose for the valuation, non-financial analysis, and profit.

“It takes time to build and increase value in a business,” Mr West explained.

“The difference between equity or long-term value that can be extracted when you exit versus income is the time frame.

“Therefore, advise your clients to start early, know what their business is worth and map out what needs to be done to drive value higher and make the business more attractive for when they are ready to realise that value.” 

Tony Zhang

Tony Zhang

Tony Zhang is a journalist at Accountants Daily, which is the leading source of news, strategy and educational content for professionals working in the accounting sector.

Since joining the Momentum Media team in 2020, Tony has written for a range of its publications including Lawyers Weekly, Adviser Innovation, ifa and SMSF Adviser. He has been full-time on Accountants Daily since September 2021.

Advisers face ‘notoriously difficult’ challenges in private business valuations
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