Lack of time, talent may be holding back BV firm growth

BVWireIssue #125-4
February 27, 2013

Like the valuation practice itself, growing a BV firm may involve as much art as science. Or at least, that’s what our most recent online survey seems to suggest. When asked to list their firm’s top three competencies, respondents either took an esoteric (art) or practical (science) approach.

For instance, one participant described the firm’s core competencies as “people, knowledge, and experience.” Similarly, another answered, “Experience, knowledge, and connections.” Compare these to responses that listed particular practices, most common among them tax, fair value for financial reporting, and M&A consulting.

When asked what core competencies they would like to add to the firm, respondents were similarly split between the practical (“more fair value” or “transfer pricing, stock option, and distressed debt valuation”) and the esoteric (“more experience, thought leadership, better people.”) Notably, several participants didn’t want to add anything to the firm. “We are making a comfortable amount with our existing competencies,” said one. Likewise, another combined art and practicality by quoting a “Dirty Harry”movie for the observation: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

What ‘magnum force’ may be imposing those limits? Of those who wanted to grow the firm’s practice beyond the core, the majority (61%) checked off “not enough time” as one reason they couldn’t. Another 50% checked off “not enough BV talent,” both within the firm and without. More than a quarter (28%) said they lack the money to grow, and roughly the same number (22%) said they lack viable merger or acquisition options. At least one participant advises practitioners to focus on being “strong and knowledgeable in a few areas, rather than trying to be everything to everyone,” while another would like to see more CPE courses addressing these esoteric yet very practical questions.

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