Accountancy Age, Accountancy Age, Thursday 9 September 2010 at 00:30:00

It's a buyer's market but you can still get a good price for your practice,as long as you plan well in advance

Who would be a partner trying to sell their interest in a firm right now? Youcan still sell your accounting practice but chances are that you won?t get theprice you imagined for
</br>it. The days when the sale of the firm substituted for a decent pension planappear to be, if not over, suspended for the time being.

Our story opposite details how prices in some areas have fallen below 1xturnover, leaving disappointed sellers settling for a fraction of their idealprice.

These are difficult times. The recession has played a large part in thetransformation. Revenues have fallen across all sectors and accountancy has notbeen spared, even if some in the profession are feeling more optimistic aboutthe future.

But perhaps a greater problem is a failure to modernise. At a recent event,one young accountant confessed that he started his own firm ? and rejected theidea of buying into the firm he worked for at the time ? because of the sheerscale of the work needed to bring it into the modern era.

What was the problem? Incumbent partners who saw the business as a lifestylechoice and lacked ambition to grow, while suffering stifling distrust of theinternet and clients working with new technologies ? alongside an inability todeal with social networking and the opportunities it might offer incommunicating and engaging with clients.

As a result, the service offering had failed to update and client interest inthe business was in the process of seeping slowly away.

How do you sell a firm like that? It?s difficult. And partners would be wiseto read our article to see what is possible.

Time spent sorting these problems could well be profitable. Planning well inadvance for the sale, instead of doing it all in a rush, will produce a return.It?s up to the baby boomers to make that choice.