Selling Your Accounting Practice in 2011? | AccountingWEB

Selling Your Accounting Practice in 2011?

'Tis the season for celebration and 'tis the season for planning and organizing.  If you intend to exit or sell your accounting practice in 2011, you should be planning and organizing it prior to the end of January.  The most significant part of the planning is deciding that you are going to take this step and then determining what assistance you need.  Whether you work with an intermediary or not, the next part is critical.

Put your plan together right away.  Why?  Because you are headed into tax season and, in our experience, no one wants to work on their sale during or even right after tax season.  Why does this matter?  We see two highly active periods during which practitioners invest time and energy in the exploration and evaluation of acquisition opportunities.  The first of these periods begins around May 1 and ends around June 15.  So, if you are not organized prior to tax season and do not have the energy or interest in getting organized during the two weeks immediately after tax season, you will miss an important window of opportunity with potential buyers/merger partners.

You have many options in the market from selling your accounting practice on your own to listing with a brokerage firm.  In my business process, I discuss the following as I help clients plan for their sale next year:

  • We set up the listing in December or January.  The client sends in financial and other information so I can draft my 9-page report on their accounting practice sale.  We have our conversations to address questions and finalize the report prior to the client getting too busy with tax season.
  • The client focuses on tax season and I do not disturb or interrupt them during this busy time since my report and promotion are now working for them.
  • On March 16th, I begin the promotion of the accounting practice for sale.  I field inquiries and begin to develop a pool of potential candidates. All of this is done without bothering my client, the seller.
  • Around April 1st, I check in with the client to remind him that I will need updated financials soon.
  • Around May 1st, when the market picks up considerably, awareness of the sale is pretty high (based on six weeks of promotion) and we have serious candidates.

The key to all of this is that my client (the seller of the accounting practice) does not spend valuable tax season time with me or prospective buyers and they do not miss the first peak in market activity that occurs in May.

So, if you have decided you are going to exit or sell your accounting practice in 2011, get it set up prior to tax season to maximize your opportunity to build the largest pool of prospects and, as a result, find the best buyer for your business.

This blog

ProHorizons is a national brokerage and consulting company focusing on accounting practice sales, acquisitions, and business development services since 1995.Our blog is focused on three aspects of our experience:  our first hand knowledge of the various layers to completing a successful transaction; the trends, changes and shifts in timing in the M&A market; and, our goal of assisting practitioners in developing long-term value so they realize maximum return when it is time to exit their practice.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.