Succession Planning For Accountants

Gary Green
Gary Green
December 27, 2019

If you run your own accountancy practice, have you ever thought what would happen if you were suddenly unable to work?

For owners of an accountancy practice, working as a contractor, sole trader or single-partner has obvious advantages:

  • Full control over the scope and direction of your business
  • You aren’t accountable to fellow partners or shareholders
  • You keep all the profits
  • The freedom to quickly adapt your business to changes and fresh challenges

But it does make the business uniquely vulnerable: for example if you died, became seriously ill or were otherwise unable to work.

What Would The Implications Be?

Let’s imagine you die while running your own accountancy practice. Some of the knock-on effects might be:

  • Customers – Would there be someone who could carry on looking after your customer accounts, at least in the short term?
  • Personnel – If you have staff or sub-contractors, would they have enough information to finish the work, make their reports and get paid?
  • Business Status – Could the business reasonably be considered a going concern without you at the helm? Would clients start to leave immediately?
  • Business Operations – Are there systems, processes and manuals in place to allow operations to continue without you? Are passwords, account numbers and logins stored somewhere securely?
  • Inheritance – Would your estate be able to take possession of a functioning business, or would it have to be liquidated at break-up value?

At Key Business Consultants, we offer a service called “succession planning” so that you’ll be properly prepared.

Stage 1 – Initial Audit

We start by coming to your office for a full day. We discuss and review all your systems and processes, including:

  • Tech (website, server, e-mails)
  • Legal (shares, wills, provisions for death or illness)
  • Security (online and offline)
  • Finances
  • Documentation
  • Staff/admin/payroll
  • Clients (details, permissions, CRM)

Once we’ve agreed and optimised all of the above, we’ll produce two documents for you in both electronic and hard copy form:

  • Procedure Manual – everything your staff and contractors need to know to keep the business running in the short term if you’re not around
  • Succession Documentation – full legal and financial details to ensure that any sale, handover or succession can be carried out as smoothly as possible

Stage 2 – Support, Updates and Revisions

Throughout the year, if you need to update or revise anything we agreed at the audit, we’ll work with you to produce fresh documentation.

We’re also at the end of a phone if you need any support or advice. Perhaps:

  • You’re thinking of bringing on another partner and want to discuss how this would affect succession
  • You’ve taken on full-time staff for the first time
  • You’re planning to retire
  • You’re thinking of selling the business
  • The nature of your business has changed

Stage 3 – If You Need Us To Step In

If the worst happens, and you die or are too ill to work, we can step in straight away.

Once your solicitor has contacted us, our team of chartered accountants are able to take control of your clients’ bookkeeping, tax returns and compliance from day one. This will ensure that their service isn’t interrupted (and that they don’t start looking for a new accountant!). And your relatives won’t have to worry about the business during this very stressful time.

Whatever your estate decides to do with the business, we’ll make sure they get maximum value with minimum disruption. If they decide to:

  • Keep the business running (meaning no inheritance tax to pay) - We can continue to look after your clients for as long as necessary. If and when the estate decides to engage a new accountancy firm, we’ll ensure a smooth handover.
  • Sell the business – Because your clients are retained and the business is still running smoothly, it can be valued as a going concern.

Working With Us

Business succession is complex, demanding a thorough knowledge of compliance, probate, inheritance tax and financial law.

As probate specialists, our accountants are perfectly placed to help you and your estate through these issues.

If you’d like to discuss working with us via a succession planning contract, we’d be very happy to arrange a no-obligation meeting at your office. Please get in touch.

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