A good explanation of the “Single Appraiser: Select Now, Value Now” recommendation from my book Buy-Sell Agreements for Closely Held and Family Business Owners was recently featured in NACVA’s email newsletter. Read it here (also includes a link to the original article on Mercer Capital’s website further explaining this buy-sell agreement recommendation).
Buy-sell agreements are ownership transition plans in disguise. Few business owners think about their buy-sell agreements in this light, but if your agreement is triggered, either through the death of a shareholder or otherwise, then ownership will change hands. Your buy-sell agreement is really ownership transition on autopilot. The real question is whether you, the other owners and the company will land safely when a trigger event occurs or if some or all of you will crash and burn. This short post addresses a simple question: Do you know what will happen if your buy-sell agreement is triggered?
If your company or your clients’ companies have formula pricing for their buy-sell agreements, the likelihood of future problems is high. It is just not possible to foresee all possible future circumstances when setting a formula today. The solution to these problems lies in a Single Appraiser, Select Now and Value Now valuation process.
Fixed price buy-sell agreement pricing mechanisms are not good and seldom work. The problems with these agreements can be “fixed” if the parties focus on the future and take steps today to solve future problems before they occur. In this post, I discuss two single appraiser processes to help solve these problems.
The idea for naming the appraiser at the time a buy-sell agreement is signed was not original to me. I first heard of the idea in the late 1980s when I learned that I had been named as the appraiser in a buy-sell agreement that had been signed a few years before. However, since learning of the idea, I’ve adopted it and promoted it widely in my books and articles on buy-sell agreements.
More than a decade ago, I was writing my first book on buy-sell agreements. While I was working on it, a long-time friend, let’s call him William, who had significant knowledge about the value of businesses, called me to relay a true story about how one buy-sell agreement ended very badly for his family.
One day a number of years ago, I received a call from an attorney. On that initial call, he told me about a bizarre buy-sell agreement process that was underway. The attorney represented a company. Based on a buy-sell agreement of some age, an option provided by the agreement had been triggered, and one of the companies had the right to acquire the company at its fair market value.
A recent post by Matt Crow, president of Mercer Capital, on our RIA blog, RIA Valuation Insights, gives me a reason to jump back in to posting here. In his recent post, “An All-Terrain Clause for your RIA’s Buy-Sell Agreement,” he addresses buy-sell agreement pricing provisions for a rapid, substantial change in company performance.