Accounting Practice Sales and Employment Agreements

The sale of most CPA and accounting firms are subject to a contract clause referred to as retention. This clause protects the buyer if the clients do not transfer to the acquiring entity. The firms sell this way because there is often a very personal relationship between the exiting principal and the clients. For this very reason, the exiting principal has a vested interest in making sure that his clients are property served and that the new principal is properly introduced and familiarized with the client’s tax needs and issues. Most buying principals desire the exiting principal to stay on for a period of time usually including the upcoming tax season. It is normal for exiting principals to stay a year on even longer to help with client transition.

Exiting CPA’s and accounting practice principals should take this into account when selling. If exit plans have the seller traveling and enjoying the retirement years the day after sale, they are likely going to be disappointed as contract terms will likely include a consulting or employment agreements that lasts well beyond the sale.

It is common practice for the exiting principal to provide a short window of practice and client familiarization (usually 30 to 45 days) at no cost to the buyer. After this however, requests to stay longer would incorporate a market wage in addition to the purchase price.

If you or someone you know would like more information about what to expect in an accounting practice sale, speak to a Phoenix business intermediary for help and guidance on the steps required in selling a CPA practice or accounting practice.

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