The thinkBIG 2015 study, released yesterday by the mid-tier firm, shows 44 per cent of SME owners currently have an exit plan and strategy in place, up from 42 per cent last year and 34 per cent in 2012.
Speaking to AccountantsDaily, Andrew Graham, national head of business solutions at RSM Bird Cameron, said he expects this to be a trend which will continue in coming years as more baby boomers look to retire, presenting a big opportunity for accountants.
According to Mr Graham, there are numerous factors that SMEs must consider when developing an exit strategy, many of which their accountant is well-placed to advise on.
Accountants can take a “structuring approach” to managing a business, establishing passive assets as a means of risk management, he said.
“Segregating assets out of the business and into superannuation can be very tax-effective,” Mr Graham suggested.
He also stressed several other factors that could prove vital to developing a successful exit plan for a business.
“In terms of succession, internal family members may not be willing to take control of the business, thus external measures must be sought,” he said.
In many cases involving the transfer of business ownership, much of the knowledge remains “locked in with the proprietor”, Mr Graham noted, and there must therefore be a concerted effort in terms of knowledge retention, which will benefit any future running of the business.
Mr Graham said the “tsunami” of baby boomers set to retire over the next five to 10 years would appear to ensure the prominence of exit planning is a trend that continues.
“It is inevitable that with such a large group approaching retirement, a majority will seek to leave their businesses,” he said.