Recently, AccountingWEB had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Eva M. Lang, CPA/ABV. ASA.executive director of the Financial Consulting Group, the largest alliance of business valuation and consulting firm in the United States. Ms. Lang is a nationally recognized teacher, speaker and author. In 2004, she was named to AICPA Business Valuation Hall of Fame for her contributions to the advancement of the business valuation profession. She is also author of the book "The Best Websites for Financial Professionals" (John Wiley & Sons, 2003).
AW: Business valuation seems to be a popular topic these days, but also one that is not well understood, why is that?
EL: Business valuation has traditionally been a niche area
practiced by non-accountants. It's not on the radar for many accountants because it is not a 100 percent accounting related career path. To succeed in business valuation, a person needs different skills, and perhaps even a different personality, than are needed to succeed in traditional accounting areas. Business valuation is heavily focused on finance, for instance. Many cases end up in court, so anyone practicing business valuation must be prepared to be an expert witness. In that sense, business valuation has more consulting work than most traditional accounting fields.
AW: Where do most accountants learn about business valuation?
EL: Well, business valuation is not something taught in most business schools, so it is something accountants discover when they hit the streets and begin their career.
AW: Is that how you "discovered" business valuation?
EL: Yes. I was working as a stock broker and answered an ad from a business valuation firm. As I learned more about the field, I discovered that business valuation included the things I liked most about being a stock broker, which was looking at market dynamics and learning what companies were about, without the sales, which I wasn't very good at anyway. I've been very fortunate in my career, to have the opportunity to connect with people brighter and more capable than I am.
AW: Would you say that making connections is vital for anyone entering the business valuation field?
EL: Certainly connecting with others is important in business valuation, as it is in any field. Of course, there are many more resources available to anyone interested in business valuation today than there were 20 years ago. AICPA is a great resource. Professional societies in many states offer regional classes and host conferences where individuals can get information and find
mentors. There are numerous books on the topic, as well.
AW: What do you like most about business valuation?
EL: A business valuation report tells the story of a company, how they got to where they are, including the problems they encountered and how they were handled.
AW: What advice would you give to someone, or even a firm,
interested in the field?
EL: Business valuation is an interesting and compelling career choice. They should look into the resources available to them from professional organizations such as the AICPA or the American Society of Appraisers. It is very important if they work in a firm that doesn't do business valuation or in which they are the only one in the firm doing business valuation, to make connections so that even if you decide business valuation is not for you, you have someone you can refer clients to.