Breaking Down the Exit Planning Process with BEI Member, Laura Troshynski (Part 2)
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.
Last week, we learned how Laura got started in the Exit Planning industry, and specifically how she gets clients started in the process. She discussed how BEI’s training has helped her and her team produce deliverables to their clients, as well as what the initial Exit Planning conversation typically looks like. Hinting at the importance of a solid, yet adaptable process, we will use this week’s blog post to cover the second half of the interview with Laura, which details more about her proven process.
BEI: It seems like your approach to Exit Planning is done in phases versus doing an entire comprehensive plan all at once. We see that a lot across the board. It makes a lot of sense, especially in today’s business environment, to help business owners focus on their top priorities first and then come back to some of the other aspects of the plan.
Regarding your team, do you have an advisor team internally, or do you bring in outside advisors based on the roles you need?
We make it a priority that the customers we work with must have an advisor team as they work through this process. A lot of people who come to us already have their CPA or their attorney, and then we always recommend a financial advisor to join that crew. If they do not have one already, we have financial advisors within the bank that we can recommend to them.
We just want to make sure that all the pieces of an Exit Plan are being considered at the same time. If a customer doesn't have the resources, we are always happy to provide recommendations – but to start a team, we find it’s important to have an attorney, an accountant, and a financial advisor. Then, depending on what their needs are, they may need to include a business broker, an insurance professional, or someone else to facilitate various pieces of the plan.
Assembling the team early is vital in making sure everyone is on the same page and that we are looking at the Exit Plan from all angles.
BEI: In your experience so far, are the business owners you've worked with willing to go through the Exit Planning Process and what does their participation look like?
Absolutely. We still run into the challenge of business owners being busy. They are so busy running their business on a day-to-day basis that it’s hard sometimes to find time to focus on planning work.
That is a challenge we want to help with. We can come up with a plan that will hopefully not be as overwhelming and Exit Planning will seem less intimidating.
The willingness is there – it is often the time and ability that is the issue. That’s why prioritizing is so important because if there is so much to be done, starting with the top 2 or 3 things they can do right now helps these customers a lot.
The value of having a structured, phased approach has helped a lot with the battles of hesitancy and time constraints.
BEI: By addressing some of their top priorities that you help them identify with your needs analysis, does that seem to validate the importance of the Exit Planning Process to them? Do you find that they are then more willing to continue and move on to the next phase?
I think so! One thing we have learned in working with customers is to not undervalue getting one or two things done. For example, if someone comes to see me and they have not met with their attorney in ten years and they do not yet have a will, even if they complete that single step, that’s a big one!
I think the concept of transitioning a business is so big that it can be so overwhelming. If we can get people to take incremental steps , they will ultimately be more prepared. That is what we work to answer: What can we do to help people be more prepared and be more comfortable when they get to that transition point?
BEI: How have you integrated the BEI EPIC software and what is your experience given your phased-based approach to Exit Planning?
I am a big proponent of the EPIC software. The Business Continuity instructions are something that we use more than anything. We noticed that regardless of timeline or desire to transition, getting a plan in place if something were to happen is important to all business owners.
We have had customers say they aren’t interested in Exit Planning because they won’t be transitioning for 15 – 20 years and our response is that we can, at the very least, produce some business continuity instructions. It is fairly quick to do and can help them right away. That is almost always a component of a plan recommendation as well.
As far as the plan goes, we have found a lot of value in physically giving the customers something. It is quite easy to have conversations over and over, but we wanted to be able to hand over a checklist. With the EPIC software you have the ability to craft a plan, but it is also beneficial to have access to the library of resources and recommendations based on things that BEI has seen repeatedly over the years.
I come up with what my recommendations are, but I still reference the library within the software to think about anything else that might apply to the situation at hand.
As far as the value driver assessment, the workbooks, the brochure – those are helpful tools to take things to the next level and really make sure nothing is missing and there were no misunderstandings. We have utilized everything across the board.
BEI: Earlier you mentioned working with agriculture – have you been able to go in and customize anything in the system specific to those types of scenarios?
Yes! I personally have gone in and made customized recommendations in my own library. There are a lot of specific ag-related considerations, as well as family dynamics, so I have created a library of things to use in those instances.
It has also been helpful to be able to store and re-use things that we’ve come up with in one place. I think it’s good that all of our plans are in one place and documented and we can track our progress along the way.
BEI: How are you managing that process once you have it in place?
I like the accountability tracker. It gives me a good reason to reach out if we are stuck or aren’t making progress. Whether it’s the owner or another advisor, it’s helpful to say, “Hey, the accountability tracker is red so we’re behind or past due on our tasks.”
I think that’s the hardest part of this process. There are so many people involved and so many moving pieces that all depend on one another. Having the ability to track it all in one place is key when everyone is busy and has lots to do.
Seeing the checklist and monitoring the progress based on who is responsible for what has really made a difference. Keeping the quick list recommendations is also helpful for me to reference often to check things off and show the business owner that we are making progress and we’re getting there.
BEI: How involved is the business owner in this process? Do you update them when tasks have been completed?
I have seen a variety. There are some owners who really want to focus on this and want to meet once a month. Others ask us to talk to the office manager and have that person reach out to the team of advisors to get updates. I always try to provide regular updates – whether by email or “just checking in.”
For the most part, many of them want to be involved. Sometimes, they want to set up meetings with members of the team of advisors on their own and talk to them individually, other times the updates just come from me.
BEI: How open are these other advisors to getting involved in the Exit Planning Process and what does their involvement look like?
I have had a great response. I think there is a little bit of a lack of industry awareness on the role of the Exit Planner as opposed to the attorney, the accountant, the broker, etc. I think making sure that I am clearly explaining my role and making it known that I am not here to do the job of any of them or step on toes.
It is our job as Exit Planners to streamline the process and come up with priorities, and once that is communicated, we generally get a good response.
When I was in private practice, I remember having people come to me asking for very specific things but would leave out that it was part of the bigger picture. I think being able to provide the big picture is helpful for this and for motivating their involvement.
BEI: Is there anything else that you have implemented alongside the BEI Exit Planning Process that you have found success with in your exit planning engagements?
We are really trying to do what we can as far as implementing blog posts and other marketing materials, as well as being active in the community is important. We just want business owners to be aware of the benefits of Exit Planning and to be thinking about it.
We try to:
- Provide education to our customers who we are not currently working with, or anyone really as it’s public on our website.
- Make sure we continue to educate ourselves, meet other people in this space, and share best practices.
- Put emphasis on the emotional side of this by doing specific training on family dynamics, problem solving, etc.
We want to make sure we can produce the plan with all the technical pieces and provide education, but we also want to account for some of the intangible aspects of Exit Planning that you don’t always have top of mind.
BEI: Going into your second year of this, since your launch, how many engagements or plans have you started?
As of now, we are a full-time team of three and we are adding another member soon. I would say each of the three of us is working with 15-20 people at the moment.
BEI: Is there anything else you would like to share in terms of advisors looking to add Exit Planning to the work they are doing with business owners?
Don’t underestimate how important Exit Planning is to business owners. We sometimes think of an owner’s personal life and business life as separate and that is not exactly the case when you are working with someone who has started the business themselves. The separation is not always there. If a business owner is willing to talk to you and put trust in you, this is a pivotal moment in their life.
BEI: Have you seen any trends in the plans that you are working on?
I would say that with the agriculture clients, internal transfers are generally the most common path. In fact, most of the business owners I am working with, even in other industries, are looking at an internal transfer.
I think part of it is because of the emotional aspect of Exit Planning. I think it appears to the business owner to be easier to exit or cut back if they are leaving the business with a trusted family member or employee. That said, I also have clients who are happy to look at a third-party sale.
Regardless of the exit path, having a process and keeping up with Exit Planning education has proven to make a world of difference for Laura and her team.
Interested in learning more?
- Follow Laura on LinkedIn to stay connected!
- Listen to the full interview recording at the link below.
- Schedule a meeting with BEI today to see how you can start using a process to help reach your client’s goals.