Our Experts Answer Your Questions

From COVID and M&As to working at home and insurance, we’ve got the information you need

PBO Advisory Group recently hosted part one of a two-part series featuring business experts answering important questions on current trends and topics. Below is a summary. If you would like to view the entire webinar, please click here.

Our panel of experts included:

  • Moderator:  Francesca San Diego, Consulting CFO & Member
  • Bryan J. Geisbauer, Senior Vice President | Shareholder
  • Jack Landers
  • Laura Nieman
  • John O. Todd III, Financial Advisor
  • Mickey Welcher, Managing Director, Biotech and Technology


Q: How is COVID affecting M&A volume?

Mickey: Things slowed down when COVID hit but are now picking up. Venture capitalists have a lot of money to spend and understand that COVID won’t be here forever. The manufacturing, distribution and technology industries are seeing an uptick. If you have a company doing well, be prepared – there will be people looking to buy it.

Q: Given the current situation, how should a business approach insurance coverage?

Jack: You should be adjusting your coverage based on changes you’ve experienced due to COVID. Engage your brokerage and get reviews of your policies. Carriers won’t change the rating basis, but they will change your rating factors, depending upon how you are rated.

Q: When planning for a business exit, what strategies should be used for retaining key employees?

John: Buyers (and others) recognize the value of people so it is important to have continuity in your management, sales and other teams. Additional compensation (bonuses, commissions, etc.) of these teams may be lower due to COVID. A short-term solution is to use non-qualified benefits to level out income for select employees. For the longer term, consider deferring bonuses and compensation.

Fran: It’s now Q4 and time to budget. This is a good time to evaluate your key players and determine how to structure deals to retain them.

Q: From an HR perspective, what are the critical practices for keeping key employees?

Laura: Examine your current culture and make sure you are addressing key issues that are important to those you want to retain. Make them feel valued now and they will remember how you took care of them during the hard times.

Fran: PBO Advisory Group is conducting employee surveys, asking our team what they value and what we can implement to make their lives more manageable.

Q:  When undertaking business succession planning, do you include and prepare for a potential exit?

John: Yes, we analyze whether your buy/sell arrangements are properly set up and identify your key personnel. Business succession planning is critical, and must be a solid part of your planning.

Q:  For business owners who own real estate, should they be keeping it or purchasing more?

Bryan: The answer is, “it depends.” A lease vs. sales analysis over a 10-year timeframe should be performed. There are multiple operational issues to consider, i.e., do you have full control of how the real estate is used or do you need landlord permission. Buyers may not value real estate the same way you do as the owner. Be prepared to be a landlord because that changes the way you view ownership. For the next three to five years, unless the deal is too good to pass up, I suggest leasing.

Q: What are your thoughts on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) during this economy?

Mickey:  They are great, but financing may be tough. Look at all options before making a decision.

Bryan:  This is a good option when there is no succession owner.

Q: Are employees covered at home through workers compensation insurance and is business equipment used at home covered?

Jack:  Yes, if they are employees (not contractors), they are covered under workers compensation insurance while working at home. Regarding business property that is off premises, most policies will have some coverage – you should review your policies.

Q: What is one tip to increase business value for a successful exit?

Jack:  Engage your insurance brokerage. Get protected and review all policies.

John:  If you are considering an exit, understand what you want to do post exit, including what type of income you need in retirement. You may need to delay.

Laura: Understand who your key staff is and what is important to them. Then evaluate your priorities so you can meet their needs.

Bryan: If you aren’t evaluating your real estate situation annually, then you are probably leaving money on the table. Reach out to your broker.

Mickey: Understand the process and be prepared. Have your books in order and be activity working with your key advisors. The best time to talk about selling is long before you decide to pursue it.

Next week we will post a recap of part two of our “Ask the Experts” webinar series, which will focus on your questions regarding employees.