When is the right time for managing directors of fiduciary companies to tackle succession planning? What measures can they take to increase the value of their company before selling it? How can the transition be as smooth as possible? In this blog post, you will get practical tips on planning your succession.

Due to the shortage of skilled workers in the fiduciary industry, many fiduciary companies have difficulties finding suitable employees and quite a few managing directors have to give up the dream of early retirement due to a lack of suitable junior staff. According to the SME portal of the Swiss Confederation, it is particularly difficult for smaller companies to find successors: “Around 15 percent of Swiss companies with 1 to 49 employees are affected by problems with succession planning. In contrast, this issue is unresolved in only 7.8 percent of companies with 50 to 249 employees.” Of the 603,602 companies entered in the commercial register, around 15 percent (91,360 companies) were looking for successors in 2021.

When should you start with succession planning? “Succession in one’s own company cannot be arranged overnight, even in small businesses. Experience shows that five to ten years are required to adapt all structures, introduce the successor and implement the tax optimisation measures,” writes the financial advisory firm VZ Vermögenszentrum in a Blog post. Most entrepreneurs in Switzerland hand over their company between the ages of 55 and 65 and should therefore start to consider succession planning from the age of 50. “The actual search for buyers: inside is backbreaking work. Often you are looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to concentrate on the operative business, because in this phase the figures must not collapse under any circumstances,” the VZ Vermögenszentrum blog post continues. For this reason, owners of fiduciary companies ideally start planning their succession ten years before they plan to retire.

Modernisation increase the sale value of your fiduciary company

What should you start with when planning your succession? An important step in succession planning is to reduce the risk and increase the value of your company. The greatest risk for fiduciary companies at present is probably a lack of innovative capacity. To counteract this, many fiduciary companies want to rejuvenate their company with a rebranding, improve their image and serve the clients of today and tomorrow even better with contemporary services. For the fiduciary sector, rebranding means, among other things, more focus and greater client-centricity.

Reading Tip: In this blog post, you can read about what fiduciary companies need to consider when rebranding.

If you manage to consolidate the position of your fiduciary company in the increasingly important SME ecosystem before the sale, this will significantly increase the sale value. With innovative and client-focused services that solve real problems for your clients, your fiduciary company can stand out from the competition, which in turn increases the value of the company. With the right fiduciary software, you get a stable and secure platform to reduce the time spent on routine activities and to create, promote and bill more customer-centric services.

Experience in a free demo how the Swiss fiduciary software Accounto can help you significantly reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks and instead focus more on your core business: customer service and advice.

How to prepare for the sale of your fiduciary company

One of the biggest challenges in succession planning is the emotional replacement process. It is understandable that entrepreneurs do not want to hand over their life’s work overnight. Starting to plan early gives you more time to prepare emotionally for the end of your life as a managing director. How can you ensure that your business remains in good hands? After you have determined the value of your fiduciary and taken measures to increase value (or at least maintain value) and mitigate risks, you should define what you expect from the successor. What competences and values should she bring? Create a profile of requirements for interested candidates. Check the documents of several interested parties and prepare a plan B in case the successor you want to replace you drops out at the last moment. Before signing the contract, you should jointly determine how the handover process and the familiarisation phase should proceed. It also can’t hurt if you are already making plans for the time after the sale of your business. This can prevent you from feeling a void after you leave your job.

Summary: these are the most important questions before the sale

Here you will find an overview of the most important questions that directors of fiduciary companies should ask themselves before selling:

  • How much is my fiduciary worth now and at the time of the planned sale?
  • Is the company – and I – ready for the sale?
  • What measures to reduce risk and increase value can and do I still want to take in the coming months and years?
  • What do I expect from the successor?
  • How do I arouse the interest of suitable candidates? Can I show them the full potential of my business?
  • How can I best prepare the successor for the takeover?
  • How should the handover process work?
  • After the takeover, do I want to continue to be available in an advisory capacity or do I withdraw completely?
  • What are my wishes and plans for the post-sale phase of my life?