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Considering Key Stakeholders

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Finding the right transaction partner, and executing a potentially complicated and emotional transition, can attract most of the consideration in an M&A deal. It’s important to also look beyond the immediate stakeholders–you, your ownership team, and your transition partners–to a few other groups who will be greatly impacted by the change: your family, your team, and your clients.

Each of these groups will be affected by the integration, and each can provide an important perspective as to choosing the right partner and path.

Let’s start with your immediate family. Lifelong impact lies in your decision to buy, sell, or merge a business. They will be impacted both economically and emotionally. Any changes to income as a result of the transaction will cross over into their lives as well. And, as your support system, the energetic toll of making the deal and transition is going to trickle home as well. How will your time and involvement at work change? How will that affect the balance of your time at home? You could be working longer hours for a time to facilitate the integration impacting your presence at home. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to reduce time at work or retire completely, that creates more time at home. Lastly, your family knows you better than anyone. Not your firm, you. Involving them in your decision making and in outlining priorities will help you stay focused on what’s truly most important to you and your ultimate goals for the transition. 

Next, your team. They may be the most impacted by the integration. As soon as you communicate your plans they’re going to be asking: How will the transition affect their role and compensation? Is there a possibility they might have to look for a different firm? Considering what happens to them should be high on your list of priorities. Additionally, key team members and leaders, especially if they are being considered as next-generations owners, will have valuable insight into choosing a transaction partner and minimizing disruptions from the deal when brought into the conversation at the appropriate time. You’re going to need to your team to help facilitate a smooth integration, so considering impact, minimizing disruption, and ensuring their future is cared for is an important piece of your transaction planning and negotiations.

Lastly, but not least, your clients. Clients can be like your family, and ensuring they’re taken care of during and post-integration is essential. What kind of person do you want to take care of your clients and assets when you step away? What criteria is necessary for a transaction partner to meet in order to ensure limited disruption with the transition? Thinking about what’s right for them will help you articulate what’s right for the business.

When the time is right, communicate the change, articulate what they can expect, and introduce their new advisory team to maintain trust and limit disruption ensuring higher client retention. 


Oftentimes we would advise that through and frequent communication is the key to an efficient work environment and collaborative team. In the event of an acquisition, sale, or merger, however, communication should be treated more delicately. It’s important to communicate plans and seek input, but too early and you risk creating more anxiety and disruption than is necessary; communicate too late and you risk degrading trust and making important decisions in a vacuum. 

There is no specific formula for who to tell when. Every situation is different and every group of stakeholders is different. You know your family, your team, and your clients best. 

Family members are often involved in the earlier decision-making phase of the process as their buy-in can make or break the decision, period. And, as we mentioned above, their input when developing your personal objectives for the transaction can be invaluable.

Depending on their tenure, role, and leadership status, team members are brought in at various times throughout the process. Key members may be invited to participate in partner selection or in defining business objectives for the transaction.

A good way to know when to bring some, or all of your team, into the loop is when the following are true: you can project confidence about the process and the outcomes; you can answer questions and concerns with enough detail to ease anxiety; and you require additional input to move forward with your decision and/or the transition process. 

Clients are often informed later in the process, after a partner has been selected and the process is well under way and you can thoroughly articulate the transition, answer any questions, and help them understand changes ahead. 

The scope of a transition and integration of a financial services business reaches well beyond the limited circle of transaction partners. The process necessarily involves and requires buy-in from many individuals who will be affected by the changes to all businesses involved. While communicating decisions and seeking input will vary with each transaction, phase, and stakeholder, considering the impact of the integration on these important groups is a critical part of a smooth and successful transition. 

Watch our recent M&A Fireside discussion to gain more insights into the M&A process and communicating with your stakeholders. 



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