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M&A vs Selling to Another Advisor: What's the difference?

When it comes to exit strategies for financial advisors, there are several options to consider. Two of the most common are a merger and acquisition (M&A) deal and selling your business to another professional. While these may seem similar on the surface, there are some key differences that can significantly impact your decision-making process.


First, let's define each option:


A merger and acquisition (M&A) deal is a combination of two businesses where one company is absorbed into the other. In this scenario, the company being acquired becomes a subsidiary of the acquiring company, and the two companies operate as a single entity. M&A deals can be completed through various methods, such as a stock purchase, an asset purchase, or a combination of both.


Selling your business to another professional, on the other hand, involves transferring ownership of the business to someone else. This could be a friend, family member, employee, or an external buyer. When you sell your business, you are relinquishing all control and ownership of the company, and the new owner takes over all aspects of the business.


Now, let's delve into some of the key differences between these two options:

  1. Control: One of the biggest differences between a M&A deal and selling your business is the level of control you have over the company. In a M&A deal, you may still have some control over the business as it becomes a subsidiary of the acquiring company. However, in a sale, you are relinquishing all control of the company to the new owner.

  2. Structure: M&A deals tend to be more complex in terms of structure and negotiation. There are typically multiple parties involved, including lawyers, accountants, and other advisors, and the process can take several months to complete. In contrast, selling your business to another professional is typically a simpler process, with fewer parties involved and a shorter timeline.

  3. Financing: Financing is another key difference between M&A deals and selling your business. In a M&A deal, the acquiring company usually provides the financing for the acquisition. In a sale, the buyer is typically responsible for financing the purchase, whether through a loan, cash, or some other form of financing.

  4. Tax implications: The tax implications of M&A deals and selling your business can also vary significantly. In a M&A deal, the tax consequences will depend on the specific terms of the deal and the type of entity being acquired. In a sale, the tax implications will depend on the sale price and the tax basis of the assets being sold. It's important to consult with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of each option.

  5. Value: Finally, M&A deals and selling your business can also differ in terms of value. M&A deals can often result in a higher valuation for the company being acquired, as the acquiring company is typically willing to pay a premium for the business. However, the valuation of the business in a sale will depend on the negotiation between the buyer and seller.


In conclusion, M&A deals and selling your business are two different exit strategies that can be considered by financial advisors. While there are some similarities, there are also significant differences in terms of control, structure, financing, tax implications, and value. It's important to carefully consider these differences and consult with advisors before making a decision on which option is best for your business.

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