When choosing a business broker, M&A advisor, investment banker or transaction intermediary to sell your company it’s wise to consider their professional designations. Having one or more designations from the right professional organization provides validation that the individual is committed to his or her craft and has sufficient experience to manage a complex sale transaction.
For California brokers that sell main street businesses and businesses at the very low end of the middle-market (say up to $10 million revenue) there are two primary designations:
- CBB (Certified Business Broker) is offered by the California Association of Business Brokers. It requires that Brokers complete 16 hours of course work and have completed at least 5 transactions within the last four years. You can find an advisor with the CBB designation here.
- CBI (Certified Business Intermediary) is offered by the International Business Brokers Association. The IBBA mainly serves the U.S. and Canada. To obtain the CBI requires 68 education hours and at least 3 completed transactions. Find advisors with the CBI designation here.
For advisors that regularly sell lower middle market companies there are two main mergers and acquisition (M&A) designations:
- The Alliance of Merger and Acquisition Advisors is an international organization that offers the Certified Merger and Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA). To obtain this designation requires attending a 5 day course. Find CM&AA’s here.
- Lastly there is the Merger & Acquisition Master Intermediary (M&AMI) designation offered by the M&A Source, also an international organization and the largest association of middle-market M&A advisors in the U.S. with over 300 intermediary members. The M&A Source is a sister organization to the IBBA. To obtain the M&AMI credential, advisors need at least 3 years of M&A experience and 40 credit hours of professional education, and must have completed at least 3 M&A transactions. Find M&AMI’s here.
Some advisors also maintain business valuation accreditations such as the Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) and ABV (Accredited in Business Valuation). These designations demonstrate a high level of proficiency in this critical part of the sale process.
All of the above designations require passing a competency test and committing to a Code of Ethics. Having a competent and ethical advisor is critical to successfully selling your business. Having at least one of these designations should be one of your criteria when selecting an advisor.
I should point out that business brokerage in California is licensed by the Department of Real Estate. However, having a real estate license says nothing about an advisor’s ability to handle a business transaction.
Adam Wiskind is an M&A advisor at Exit Strategies Group, Inc and is a Certified Business Intermediary. If you are interested in better understanding this subject or in selling your business, contact Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.