BV leaders to appraisers: sink or specialize

BVWireIssue #112-3
January 18, 2012

Following up on our year-end survey, in which the majority of respondents recognized a major trend toward specialization in the BV profession, we asked members of the BVU Editorial Advisory Board whether they agreed that the era of the BV “generalist” was indeed over:

  • Economics isn’t the only reason to specialize, says Mike Crain (Financial Valuation Group). With the BV profession numbering roughly 10,000, “it’s no longer good enough to compete with other professionals just by telling clients that you have a BV certification.”
  • The increasing amount of information is also forcing segmentation, says Jay Fishman (Financial Research Associates), who identifies functional niches such as financial reporting, tax, litigation, ESOP, international, and advisory services.
  • BV appraisers need “to specialize within a specialty,” says Ron Seigneur (Seigneur Gustafson). It’s no different than the legal profession, in which generalists no longer exist.
  • “Dabbling is dangerous now,” agrees Nancy Fannon (Fannon Valuation Group). The profession is growing too fast for part-time practitioners to keep up.
  • The trend toward specialization may only be temporary, Ted Israel (Eckhoff Accountancy Corp.) suggests. Over time, the contrasting factions may merge and “reach a higher level of compatibility.”
  • For now, “boutique firms are the ones that are going to continue to perform well,” says Lance Hall (FMV Valuations), who believes that healthcare, oil and gas, and—surprisingly—entertainment are the specialty areas poised for the most growth.

Develop an education plan. Specialization is not just about marketing to a particular industry, Fannon says; “it’s a matter of getting an education plan together.” For her suggested reading list—plus numerous tips from all the top BV leaders on how to specialize in the current economy, check out the complete article in the February 2012 Business Valuation Update. 

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