If you are thinking about or have already started down the path of a potential merger or acquisition, here are a couple of thoughts for you to consider. Starting and operating your own RIA firm and all that it entails is successfully done when a person who organizes and operates the business takes on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so. That is the definition of an entrepreneur – you decided to be the guide of your destiny and have the final say in your business. You hired people to add value to your firm and to be an extension of you. No matter the size of your firm, it is your baby – you birthed it, nurtured it, and helped it grow. Are you ready to say goodbye and move to a new firm, just to sit on the sidelines and watch someone else make the final decisions on how the business will run?
After going through the process of selling my firm, I realized in short order that it was more difficult to be an employee than I imagined. I have been a W-2 employee before in my career, but after founding and serving as CEO of my own firm, I found that standing by and watching how the decisions of someone else impact your clients and your team can be an emotional process.
What I quickly grasped is that being an employee is a skillset, and being an entrepreneur is a mindset. While both are important, the distinction is often overlooked in M&A transactions. When you sell your business and plan to move on or retire, you may have a different set of emotions as you walk away. But if you plan to stay on with the acquirer, are you emotionally prepared for how it will feel to become an employee? This doesn’t imply that the other firm involved in the transaction is bad, but it will be different. Before you begin the M&A process, ask yourself: are you ready to move from being an entrepreneur to an employee?