Sellers clearly want to be well compensated for the business they’ve built and nurtured, and they want to be acquired by a firm that will take good care of it.
They also care about keeping their clients happy and joining a firm with a fiduciary focus.
While buyers everywhere are showcasing technology as a key attraction, it appears they would do better to focus on client retention strategies and training, take up the fiduciary mantle or highlight strong leadership.
Owners care less about new technology and enhanced capabilities, but these aspects are very important to non-owners.
Non-owners consider enhanced technological capabilities to be the top consideration in a potential sale, with 62% saying it’s critical. Regarding new and innovative technology tools, 69% of non-owners think they’re important, and 38% feel they’re essential.
All non-owners view client retention as important, with 46% saying it’s critical. This compares with 78% and 36%, respectively, of owners.
Other areas of divergence include service/clientele synergies, growth potential, whether equity is offered in the transaction, expanding client service, providing new opportunities for employees, and preserving a role for the founder. These factors are less important to owners. Oddly, just 30% of owners believe preserving a role for the founder is important, versus 77% of non-owners.
Kovalski said most of the results are consistent with conversations MarshBerry has had with its clients, but she was surprised more sellers weren’t interested in expanded services and capabilities. This may indicate responding sellers are still in the early stages.
“Once an owner starts a process, they become exposed to things and can start to visualize what a world would look like if they had access to A, B, C, and D,” Kovalski said.