Breaking Down the Exit Planning Process (Part 1)

Fri, 08/12/2022 - 08:00

Breaking down the Exit Planning Process Part 1

Breaking Down the Exit Planning Process with BEI Member, Laura Troshynski  

Laura Troshysnki, JD, CExP®, FNBO, is the Senior Director of Business Owner Advisory Services at First National Bank of Omaha. Laura started her partnership with BEI about a year ago, achieving her Certified Exit Planning designation and has implemented the tools from the BEI Planning License in her work.  

This blog post, as well as next week's article, will detail an in-depth interview where Laura describes how she got into the Exit Planning space, what has helped her in engaging clients, and how she breaks down the process to steps that make sense for her and her team. 


BEI: Tell us about yourself, your practice, your background, and how you got involved in the Exit Planning industry.  


Prior to my current role, I was a private practice attorney for about ten years in North Platte, Nebraska. Being involved in the industry for many years alongside my father, businesses and family businesses are very important to me.  

While in private practice, I focused much of my attention within the areas of estate planning, business transition, and general business. About three years ago, I made the move to First National Bank of Omaha in the trust department and really enjoyed working with the customers. 

Through this work, I realized they were spending a lot of time looking at their personal transitions. When my current position opened in the Business Owner Advisory Services division, it was a great transition for me and provided the opportunity to not only look at succession planning, but also combine the things I had learned in private practice with my responsibilities at the bank.  

While the Business Owner Advisory Services division is a relatively new practice area, we have focused on building the team and are excited about the work we will be able to provide for our local business owner community. 


BEI: In your current position, what percentage of your time is spent doing Exit Planning, and what other offerings are you providing with the bank?  


Right now, I am doing full-time Exit Planning. About four years ago, the bank started noticing that we had a lot of customers who were looking at retirement and talking to their lenders and other advisors at the bank about it. Therefore, we wanted to make this a priority – it was very important that we build a team that could focus solely on business owners and their exits. 

We spent about a year working with BEI, building out a process, and building our team so that we would be ready to focus on this full-time.  

All day every day I am doing Exit Planning. I am working with business owner clients to look at transitioning their businesses and finding the right path for them.  


BEI: Having gone through BEI’s training, how did that prepare you to build out the process you have today?  


It was especially important to us that every member of our team put a priority on education. Every member of our team either is, or will become, certified through the BEI designation process.  

To start, I thought that boot camp was a great refresher for a lot of things. There are always areas that each individual focuses on more depending on their role, so having a high-level overview of all the things that can come up as you are looking at an Exit Planning engagement is a great first start. 

John Brown did a great job of walking through not only what process BEI recommends, but also some other scenarios and strategies that he’s seen come up over the years to help in engaging business owners. Overall, it was a very helpful program.  

As I was working my way through the modules required of the certification process, the learning and testing over that knowledge was something I hadn’t done in quite a while. This was an effective way to look at aspects of Exit Planning that I had not worked with as frequently. 

I was able to see what areas I needed to brush up on a bit more and seek out additional resources on those topics. Not only was it a good refresher on things we already knew, but it was also helpful to pinpoint some of the areas to improve on as a team.  

I found the most valuable piece of BEI training for me was the final test of the certification program – which is to create an Exit Plan for a given scenario. It was great to be able to walk through a problem to ensure we could spot the challenges of the specific situation and really come up with a comprehensive Exit Plan based on the best-suited exit path

It was important to us as a team to be able to have a deliverable for our clients.  

We didn't want our customers to just think that we were having conversations with them that weren’t going anywhere. So, getting to that final test – and then through our continued work – being able to have written documents that say, “Here is an Exit Plan, the things we want to implement, and the measures we’ll take to track it...” was valuable as we were learning how to make our process efficient for our own learning and for our customers.  

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BEI: Knowing that you are working with all internal clients and aren't yet networking outside of the bank, how many business owners do you think that First National Bank of Omaha represents?  

Laura: That is hard to quantify, but we have had a much better response to adding Exit Planning services than we even anticipated. This goes to show how many people are really looking at exiting and realizing the benefits of Exit Planning.  

We wanted to make sure we were getting our message out there about what we were doing and so far, our response has been overwhelming. There are so many people looking into this because there's so much that goes into it. We have traditional businesses that want to sell the business to a third party, business owners who are looking to transition their business to their kids, and we even do quite a bit of work in the agricultural space which comes with its own set of considerations. 

So – we've been very busy!  


BEI:  Let’s talk about the approach you take with your internal clients: How are the Exit Planning conversations being started? How are you identifying the opportunities? Who is explaining the process?  


Conversations start in many ways, either with the lender or someone from our department. Typically, someone identifies a customer who may be a fit based on things that are coming up in other conversations. Once a potential customer is identified, our Business Owner Advisory Services team will schedule a meeting with them to discuss what their needs might be, and we take it from there.  

Sometimes the lender is involved in that conversation, sometimes they are not dependent on what the customer wants and needs. It has worked well for us to have some options and flexibility in that area.  


BEI: In that first meeting, what are you typically using with that client to help guide the conversation? Do you use BEI tools like the workbook or brochure, or do you have some other method of beginning that interview process with the client?   


It has worked well for us to have the assessments online as something we can send to the customer so they can fill it out for themselves after the initial meeting.  

In the first meeting, I focus on really getting to know the customer and talking to them in a way that shows I am listening to them. There is obviously a lot of information we need to gather from them as far as financials and things like that, but we first and foremost prioritize the emotional aspect of this process and getting to know their goals. 

After all, it’s their lives’ work that we are talking about transitioning. I want to really get to know them and be sure I can take away the things that are most important to them. We don’t want to be focusing on areas that they may have no interest in, so listening is critical.  

After the first meeting has concluded, we’ll send them the online assessment so we can make sure what I am hearing at the meeting aligns with what their priorities actually are. From that point, we put together a high-level priorities sheet so they know what they need to focus on in the beginning phases of planning.  


BEI: Did you have to do any training upfront on how lenders or whomever should bring up Exit Planning to prospective customers?  


I was pleasantly surprised in beginning this work to discover that these conversations about transition have been going on for years and years. People are typically so comfortable with their banker, and it seemed like that is where the conversation would begin naturally. We had some discussion about things to look out for, but all-in-all, they were already doing a good job of having these conversations organically during standard conversation.  

Now, having these services available is the next step as far as having someone dedicated to moving them through the process. 

So what exactly does the process look like following the initial conversation? Laura’s interview continues and in next week’s blog, we will dive deeper into how a repeatable, yet adaptable Exit Planning Process has helped her and her team with their Exit Planning engagements. Stay tuned for Laura’s take on building an advisor team, an owner’s willingness to participate in planning, and much more!  

To watch the recording of the full interview with Laura and BEI’s Doug Easton, visit the link below!  

Watch the Interview Recording with Laura Troshynski