We’ve gotten quite a few questions lately about the state of the accounting practice market. Here is a quick update to keep you informed.
Is financing available for accounting practice acquisitions?
Financing incentives for the purchase of an accounting firm in the US are so good it’s hard to imagine right now. For deals that are closed before September 27, the first six payments are paid for by the SBA. That’s right, for acquisitions financed through an SBA loan, there are no payments for the first six months. To boot, it’s not a deferral. It’s forgiven.
In Canada, there are numerous new bank programs coming online soon for accounting firm acquisitions. We are still waiting for the details and we’ll report again when we get those and have a chance to digest them. Banks have generally liked accounting firm deals, and we don’t see that changing. More of the big banks are rolling out professional programs.
Have valuations been impacted?
Valuations are generally following the health of the clients of the firm. Most of our practices are holding up very well because they have strong clients. If you own a practice that is heavily focused on industries that have been negatively impacted, then as you’d expect, that will impact firm value. For example, if all of your clients are in food & beverage, travel & tourism, then it might be wise to wait for a recovery before you put your firm on the market. In contrast, if your clients are strong and you’ve been wanting to sell, then 2020 is as good year to sell as any. Maybe better?
Who’s buying right now?
We are seeing very strong buyer activity right now. The general mix of buyers has not really changed that much. Buyers are both existing firms and individuals looking to strike out on their own for the first time. We are seeing strong offers on practices. To view our current practices for sale, visit our website.
What about the industry in general? How are you seeing firms adapt?
We have two main observations:
- Remote work isn’t so scary after all. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to do it. This will likely expedite the already rapid technology transformations that we’ve been seeing over the last five or so years.
- CPAs are realizing just how much clients rely on them for advice. Hopefully, this will also expedite the transformation of firms – from compliance to reliance. It’s a prime time for CPAs to step up and take their place as trusted business advisors.
This is one of the most stressful, yet also exciting times to own a firm. Everyone is ready for a break. Rest up and get ready. There is a ton of opportunity out there to capture!
PS – The next Accounting Practice Academy workshop starts on July 27th. Our first Academy Alumni finish up in a couple of weeks. They are making big strategic moves!
About Brannon Poe: Brannon is the founder of Poe Group Advisors and has been facilitating successful accounting practice transitions throughout the US and Canada since 2003. He is also the creator of Accounting Practice Academy. Brannon is the author of the Accounting Practice Insights Blog and hosts the Accountant’s Flight Plan” podcast with other top thought-leaders in the accounting profession. Brannon is an E&Y alumnus. He has worked with some of the most successful and seasoned CPAs in the industry and has been privy to the behind-the-scenes methods that these clients have used to build highly profitable practices along with capable and independent teams. Brannon has authored multiple books, including Accountant’s Flight Plan – Best Practices for Today’s Firms (published by both the AICPA and CPA Canada) and On Your Own: How to Start Your Own CPA Firm, Second Edition (published by the AICPA). Brannon is passionate about entrepreneurship and is the president-elect of EO Charleston (Entrepreneur’s Organization).