An Accountant’s Critical Role in a Business Aquisition or Sale


The ease, simplicity and widespread acceptance of accounting software allows many business owners to manage more accounting functions than ever before. Now, business owners can run payroll, lodge BAS, create financial statements and more with little effort, no accountant necessary. However, just because you can do accounting yourself, should you?


Business owners are notorious multi-taskers. Running payroll and financial statements via accounting software doesn’t take much time, but would that time be better spent on other tasks that increase your bottom line? Are you getting the accurate picture of your business’s financial health that an accountant could provide? At no time is having an exact and holistic picture more important than when you are buying or selling a business.


Seek an accountant’s advice prior to purchasing a business

Whether considering a start up or an established business, obtain an accountant’s advice before you purchase a business. An accountant:

  • Analyses reports and statements, pointing out any issues you need to be aware of – positive and negative

  • Verifies whether or not the company owns or leases assets like equipment

  • Compares debt to income ratios, both historically and in future scenarios

  • Advises on the company’s structure (corporation, etc.) and it’s implications on your tax situation

  • Helps determine the business is worth the asking price and your offer

  • Assists with business plans

  • Gathers information and documents needed for business appraisals and loans

  • Helps assure all due diligence has been taken on your behalf

Turn to an accountant before selling your business

Even if you’ve run your business for years doing your accounting in-house or consulting an accountant only at certain times like taxes, bring one on board before you sell your business.

A serious buyer will demand your accounting records be in perfect order, as well as demonstrate your business’s value. Anything less or otherwise will discourage earnest buyers, and may result in a lower selling price. An accountant:

  • Can substantiate your advisor’s evaluation and selling price

  • Produces and verifies statements of accounts and financial records for buyer review

  • Presents your business in a good and accurate light

  • Communicates with the buyer’s accountant to answer questions

  • Advises you on how to gain the most money from the sale by structuring it to minimise tax liability

  • Can share their expertise and experience helping others sell their businesses in comparable industries and financial shape

  • Helps assure all due diligence has been taken on your behalf

An accountant’s tax advice can save money for business purchasers and sellers

Buying or selling a business will have tax implications. While your lawyer and M&A advisor will guide you in how to structure the agreement to minimise tax liability and maximise profit, your accountant will be essential in advising you on taxes.


Assemble your “dream” team: an accountant, attorney and M&A advisor

I strongly recommend having your accountant work in tandem with your lawyer and M&A advisor. Together, your dream team can give you the peace of mind of knowing you’ll be making a decision based on knowledge, not speculation or hear say. The accountant, attorney and M&A advisor should be kept aware of what the other is doing so that you avoid triple paying for duplicate services and information. It’s not essential, but it’s worth considering using professionals referred by those with whom you’re already working. Prior relationships are more likely to cooperative and reliable ones.


An accountant lets you focus on what you do best

An accountant has a critical role in buying or selling a business, but also he or she can take the burden of accounting off your shoulders. It’s a matter of freeing up the time you spend on financial tasks and spending it on you do best and enjoy most; running and growing your new business or moving on post sale to your next venture.

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