By Mark O’Connor, Cutcher & Neale, Accountants, Newcastle.
If your succession planning has identified that your business needs to be “sale ready“, an independent, quality audit is a vital investment that could return significant dividends and improve your business sale value.
The audit will focus on key areas of risk identified through the experience gained in dealing with a broad range of businesses across various industries.
The high quality information produced will help to maximise the efficiency of any due diligence process and, ultimately, the value realised. That information will include:
- An assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of business systems and processes
- Recommendations to improve processes with a view to reducing costs
- An assessment of accounting policies which improve the reported value of business assets
- Feedback on the accuracy of management reporting
- An independent report that may reduce future due diligence costs
As a result of these insights, you’ll have:
- Greater confidence in the financial reports and any projections made from them.
- The comfort of knowing that you’ve dramatically reduced the risk of “surprises” resulting from any investigations undertaken by potential buyers or investors.
To illustrate the point, here’s an example of a first-time audit project we recently carried out.
A privately owned transport and logistics group company was preparing for a future sale. The owners recognised the value of an audit and understood that the investment will lead to benefits which would significantly outweigh the costs.
Our tasks involved:
- Review their accounting policies and adopt all of the accounting standards that apply to the value of assets and liabilities.
New policies were then adopted and assets and liabilities and profit were restated to recognise these changes.
Key business processes were identified, discussed with the client, documented and tested.
By adopting the improvements we identified through our audit process, the company enjoyed some immediate benefits including:
- A measureable improvement in efficiency
A significant reduction in operating costs
Improved cash flow due to better stock control, invoicing processes and debtor collection.
When the time came to sell, our client’s audited financial reports meant that the purchaser’s offer was consistent with the client’s expectations and very few adjustments were necessary on completion of the due diligence and sale contract.
For many privately owned businesses there may be no regulatory requirements to prepare financial reports for lodgement with authorities or have them audited. Some business owners will automatically focus on the added cost of an audit and either fail to recognise, or choose to ignore, the benefits. Others will quickly appreciate that those benefits far outweigh the cost. Our experience has proved time and again that a quality audit can not only deliver a more realistic sales result, but can also add value along the way through improved processes and risk reduction. So it’s worthwhile to at least consider the proposition that an audit is a sound investment. After all, your business is in all likelihood your biggest asset; why wouldn’t you seek to maximise its value?