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Business for sale signWhen owners of privately held companies are considering how to transition out of their businesses due to planned retirement, health concerns or other reasons, they often get expert help with the process. Valuing, marketing and preparing for sale can be complicated and professional assistance with this activity can be invaluable. A Certified Business Exit Consultant (CBEC) is a professional certified to help entrepreneurs plan to exit their businesses.

People who seek a CBEC certificate are usually professionals already involved in helping business owners with exit planning. They may be financial advisors, business brokers, appraisers, accountants, attorneys or business management consultants.

Holders of CBEC certificates have gotten specialized training on subjects of importance to business owners contemplating exit. These include counseling owners about exit options, estimating the value of the business, preparing the business for exit and tax considerations.

The CBEC is co-sponsored by Pinnacle Equity Solutions and the International Exit Planning Association, both of Canton, Massachusetts. Pinnacle offers business exit planning services as well as training for professional advisors. The International Exit Planning Association is a professional organization run by Pinnacle.

CBEC Certification Requirements

In order to receive a CBEC, planners have to complete a set of prerequisite courses and a set of certification webinars. They also have to pass a final exam and prepare an exit plan.

The prerequisites are self-paced online courses that teach the core concepts of exit planning. They consist of 10 hours of instruction delivered in 12 modules. The certification courses consist of nine webinars. After a two-day review, students can take the final exam either in person or via proctored web meeting.

The course material includes information on private capital markets, mentally preparing an owner for exit, business valuation, transfer strategies including employee stock ownership plants and methods for retaining key members of the management team through the transition.

The CBEC certification course costs $2,500. Successful graduates are required to complete 10 hours of continuing education each year. They also have to maintain membership in the IEPA and follow the organization’s code of conduct.

CBEC Certificate Holder Jobs

Business owner checks her financialsMost CBEC holders are already working as financial advisors, consultants, accountants or attorneys assisting business owners with transition. The CBEC designation indicates that the holder has an interest in and has studied and passed examinations on concepts and implementation of exit planning strategies. CBEC designees don’t have any special powers or privileges, however.

The CBEC has been offered since 2010. It is one of the least expensive exit planning-related certifications available. It also has fewer prerequisites and course requirements than some other similar certifications.

Comparable Certifications

There are several other certifications for professionals involved in advising business owners on exit strategies. Here are some competitors to the CBEC:

The Certified Exit Planner (CExP) has been offered by the Business Enterprise Institute since 2009. Most CExP students already have professional designations such as financial advisor, accountant or attorney. The program calls for 100 to 120 hours of study, can take up to a year and costs from approximately $4,000 to $5,000 depending on whether study is done online or at in-person workshops.

The Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) certificate from the Exit Planning Institute has been around since 2007. The training consists of a five-day course that costs approximately $6,000 if done at in-person workshops or $3,000 if done online. Prerequisites include a four-year bachelor degree plus five years of experience working with business owners.

The Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA) is overseen by the Alliance of Merger and Acquisition Advisors. Prerequisites for this certificate include a four-year college degree as well as a professional designation or an advanced degree such as an MBA or Ph.D. It costs $2,495 for the online version and $4,995 for in-person instruction.

Bottom Line

Business owner gives keys to his business to the buyer

Like many professional designations, much of the value of the CBEC is in marketing, where it can be used to convince potential clients that an advisor is particularly well qualified to dispense advice on this topic, such as what the selling price should be. Most advisors working in the exit planning field don’t have any specialist exit planning certificate, however. The CBEC certificate is a relatively low-cost, undemanding way for an advisor to acquire credentials establishing his or her expertise in the field of business exists. People with this certificate have studied relevant topics including business valuation, financial preparation, transfer strategies and tax consequences.

Tips for Business Owners

  • A business owner considering the best way to exit the business can get great benefit from a relationship with a trusted and experienced financial advisor to make sure the transition does not handicap his or her personal financial plans. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Business owners should also make sure they are paying the right amount in property taxes. A free, easy-to-use property tax calculator can give you a quick read on what exactly you owe on your property.

Photo credit: ©, ©, © Meepian

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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