The question of timing can mean different things to different people. Some who pose the question may be thinking philosophically, while others are thinking more tactically.
Philosophically, when is the right time to sell an accounting practice?
In terms of finances – If you are selling to retire, you will almost always make more money if you continue to work. However, if you want to sell because you have a new opportunity to pursue that’s more lucrative than public accounting, then the right time to sell is…as soon as possible. If you are not driven by money, but just really enjoy working and owning your firm, then there really isn’t much point in even entertaining the idea. When the time comes, you’ll know. What about when you begin to think of retirement as an opportunity?… an opportunity where the time you spend doing something you really want to do is far more valuable to you than the money you are making in the practice? In that case, it’s time.
Tactically, when is the right time to sell an accounting practice?
The majority of practices sell in the fall of the year. People don’t often buy in the middle of tax season, so late in the winter is not the best time. We do see a few spring and summer transactions, but the vast majority of accounting practices are transitioned between August and February.
So in short…the best time to sell is… in the fall when you really want to focus on doing something else.
Succession Planning Guide for Accountants.