Is buying fees a viable option?
By Lucinda Kitchin of APMA
Day in, day out, APMA takes calls from newly qualified practitioners looking to set up in practice, from practitioners looking to grow existing practices, from unhappy or ambitious employees looking to step away from their employers and hoping to start out on their own. But how realistic is the prospect of fees acquisition? There can’t be enough fees to go around for everyone, surely? The answer is no. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try – if you don’t try, how can you ever succeed?
The passive approach
If you wish to grow through acquisition, the first step is to register your interest with all the brokers and agents you can find. Also consider posting your requirement on any relevant forums. After that remain vigilant and be prepared to consider everything!
Opportunities to buy do exist. Sometimes they will be suitable and sometimes they won’t, but the process of considering each on its merit will ensure you are best positioned to make the acquisition when the time comes – if it’s right for you and if you’re right for it.
If you are serious, exploring the buying process will help you to develop a better understanding of what it is you want and how that might look in reality. A good broker will ensure that the process is not too time-consuming for you and that you are armed with the necessary knowledge, and also that you benefit from sufficient support throughout – they won’t just leave you to sink or swim.
The proactive approach
If you are really keen, why not consider retaining an M&A professional to assist you in your search? They will go to market on your behalf with a view to identifying potentially suitable acquisition opportunities. While this approach will cost you, it can help you to get your foot in the door, setting you ahead of the competition, and so is surely an expense worth considering. For some, the exercise may yield no fruit, but for many it can present a number of viable options and can be a game-changer.
Earlier this year we were retained by an individual working in a job that made him unhappy. He dreamed of buying a small block of fees so he could leave that job behind to service the acquired clients from home with the few he already had. With such a small requirement there was every chance we might not succeed, but we are here to serve. Through our efforts we established a number of practitioners were in fact ready to dispose of blocks of their smaller clients to allow them to focus on their more lucrative fees and on those clients with more complex requirements. Thus a suitable block was found quickly, a deal was agreed, the gentleman’s ambition was achieved and the vendor was satisfied and able to focus his efforts elsewhere – with more money in his pocket.
Lots of practitioners may be almost ready to sell but might not yet have found the courage or the time to pick up the phone to make that call. But if a letter on behalf of an ambitious purchaser were to land on their doorstep at just the right moment it could be the prompt needed to spur on action, and that could change everything – both for them and for you.
In the meantime, the feelers will already have been put out, so only 30 minutes each week needs to be devoted to checking back in with the marketplace.