I spent last week on the “Magnificent Mile” in downtown Chicago. It’s a great place to visit, with an abundance of good eateries, trendy clothing stores, upscale hotels, and really impressive architecture. Sadly, I spent far too little time enjoying what Chicago has to offer. It so happens that just off of Michigan Avenue, beneath the unblinking gaze of the NBC Tower and the imperial indifference of the splendid Tribune Tower, squats the Gleacher Center of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
There at Chicago Booth the Exit Planning Institute (EPI) holds an intensive five-day program which, if successfully completed by qualified attendees, leads to the awarding of a CEPA designation. The fact that I’m writing this would suggest that I am one of said attendees. It’s true, and I am pleased to now hold myself out as a Certified Exit Planning Advisor, a CEPA.
Those who have given serious thought to the subject of exit planning agree that it is a multi-dimensional subject requiring a multi-disciplinary solution. In other words, it’s a team sport. No one professional or professional firm can adequately address all of the aspects considered in a comprehensive exit plan. In brief, the issues may be legal, business, personal, tax, financial, or value-driven in nature. For those various aspects, a team of advisors needs to be deployed–a team that may include, for example, an accountant, attorney, financial advisor, insurance advisor, business intermediary, management consultant, executive coach, and valuation professional. And crucially, included in the team should be at least one member who has a grasp of the overall scope of the work required for the successful completion and execution of the exit plan. Many refer to that member as the “quarterback”, others the “project manager”. My firm, B2B CFO, designates that role as “team manager”. Whatever term you choose, the team needs to include that professional who can orchestrate the effort and bring it to a successful conclusion on behalf of the exiting owner.
The Certified Exit Planning Advisor program was designed to equip advisors with the knowledge and tools to successfully function within a team of advisors and, when appropriate, to act as the “team manager”. The curriculum includes materials in each of the areas relevant to exit planning: valuation, mergers & acquisitions, private equity, ESOPs, estate planning, insurance planning, financial planning, value enhancement, taxation, gifting strategies, and the practical application of exit strategies. The presenters are truly experts in their fields, several of whom literally “wrote the book”, and all of whom are successful practitioners.
EPI put together a rich program and assembled an impressive instructional team. I am proud to call myself a Certified Exit Planning Advisor, a CEPA.