Announcement: 2017 Excellence in Exit Planning Award Nominees

Announcement: 2017 Excellence in Exit Planning Award Nominees

Article written by EPI Vice President, Scott Snider

Exit Planning Institute (EPI) is passionate about changing outcomes for middle market business owners.  And as the leaders of EPI, we are fortunate to foster a community of elite specialists, advisors, and influencers from across the world that are also determined to help business owners grow value and secure the legacies they deserve.

Exit Planning Advisors Pioneering an Industry and Leading Owners to Better Outcomes.

Exit planning as an industry is still relatively new and topical and our advisors face unique challenges as they bring exit planning into the present.  Statistics show the odds are not stacked in the owner’s favor: 80% of companies on the market do not sell.  75% of owners “profoundly regretted selling” their companies a year the sale.  About 50% of owners have no plans for transition.  65% of owners have no formal education around exit strategy and what it takes to transition their company.  With 80% of their net worth trapped in their most illiquid asset (the business), owners come to their advisors looking for help, but too often too late in the game to really make an impact.

The market opportunity is there, and within the financial/professional services industry, exit planning is the hot topic.  As the number of exit advisors industry-wide continues to climb, many experts face issues that come hand in hand with pioneering an industry, including lack of owner education and market awareness (many owners don’t even understand what exit planning is…).

But don’t be discouraged; this is a time of excitement for advisors.  You are in a blue ocean.  That said, pioneering an industry is not for everyone.  But for those entrepreneurial advisors who belong to the exit planning ecosystem, we have a chance to move a market. Change an industry. Drive best practices. And affect not only the outcomes for owners but outcomes for their families, employees, communities, and our economy as well.

So, five years ago, after purchasing the Exit Planning Institute and reviving the Annual Conference, we created a platform to acknowledge and showcase exit advisors who were “doing things right” in our industry.  The advisors contributing to the “20% that do sell” and the “25% satisfied post-transaction.”  An award that showcased leaders and pioneers dedicated to changing the outcome for middle market business owners locally, nationally, and worldwide.

And in 2013, EPI introduced the first Excellence in Exit Planning Awards.

What is the Annual Excellence in Exit Planning Awards?

This year, EPI’s Excellence in Exit Planning Awards will honor three exit planning advisors who lead our industry and community in unique, significant ways.  These awards are broken into the following categories:

  • The Member of the Year Award is presented to a CEPA or EPI Partner who contributes significantly to the EPI community of advisors and the overall exit planning profession. They act as a key leader and expert in their local or regional marketplace and lead exit planning education while driving market awareness. [view 2016 Member of the Year Award Winner]
  • The Leader of the Year Award in presented to CEPA who has successfully trail blazed a first-of-its-kind project, initiative, or practice which has made a significant contribution to the exit planning profession and overall community. This advisor is also a thought leader; someone who has taken a position and become a regarded expert/specialist in a specific niche area, a person who tasks, innovates, and influences, and above all, showcases characteristics of collaboration. [view 2016 Leader of the Year Award Winner]
  • The Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year Award is the highest honor offered in the exit planning industry and is awarded to a CEPA who either practices exit planning, manages exit planning engagements, educates business owner and advisors, or provides industry-changing exit planning solutions or tools that can be directly tied to changing outcomes for business owners and leading advisors. This advisor makes significant contributions to the industry, exemplifies the core values and characteristics of EPI and the CEPA designation, while making a uniquely significant impact on the larger exit planning profession on a local, regional, national and/or international scale. [view 2016 Exit Planner of the Year Award Winner]

Announcing the 2017 Excellence in Exit Planning Award Nominations

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) designation and it is our true pleasure to introduce these 9 nominees:

2017 Exit Planner of the Year: 2 Nominees

Peter Hickey, CEPA, CEO/Founder of MAUS Business Systems, President of EPI Australia

Peter has been serving the business advisory and exit planning industry for almost 28 years. He is also a best-selling author and the creator of multiple award-winning business intelligence and value growth tools that are used by more than 60,000 companies wordwide, including MAUS, a tool that many CEPAs and transitioning owners rely on to assess and evaluate company value.  Additionally, Peter revived the EPI CEPA Program in Australia this past May and championed exit advisory leadership in his region.

Peter Hickey earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2009.

Michael Trabert, CPA, CVA, CMAP, CEPA, CM&AA, Partner at Skoda Minotti

Michael “Mike” Trabert has built the value acceleration/exit planning division at Skoda Minotti, conducting monthly meetings for transitioning and growing business owner clients.  In partnership with Chris Snider, Trabert leads the first-to-market Owners’ Roundtable (ORT) workshop series, which educates owners on the five stages of value creation.  Additionally, Mike authored a comprehensive eBook, The Five Stages of Value Maturity, which augments his efforts with Snider.  Through Mike’s tireless work, Skoda Minotti has become the leading firm providing business attractiveness and readiness assessments in their region and beyond.

Michael Trabert earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2011.


2017 Leader of the Year: 3 Nominees

Julie Keyes, CEPA, Founder of KeyeStrategies, President of EPI Twin Cities Metro Area

Keyes is a national speaker and instructor in the fields of exit planning and value growth and is a brilliant example of results-oriented collaborator.  She, along with her local advisor peers, led the way in launching the Twin Cities State of Owner Readiness Survey & Owners Forum, capturing attention owners, partners, and media alike.  The success of the research and event resulted in a dedicated EPI Twin Cities column in the Minnesota Business Magazine, for which Julie and her team regularly contribute, reaching over 10,000 owners. Julie now acts as a mentor and advisor to many CEPAs who are now taking on the same initiative.

Julie Keyes earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2015.

Melisa Silverman, JD, CEPA, CVA, SBA, CMEA, Partner of The Founders Group, President of EPI Greater Los Angeles

Melisa Silverman has been successfully operating her national boutique valuation firm since 2013, and has now teamed up with two other CEPAs to turn valuations into exit planning engagements.  She launched The Founders Group, a national exit planning firm, in January 2017, and creates synchronicity in messaging by utilizing principals, language, and processes found in the Value Acceleration Methodology.  Additionally, Silverman leads a successful chapter and is spearheading a State of Owner Readiness Survey and Owners Forum within the LA market.

Melisa Silverman earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.

Gary Rzucidlo, CEPA, Senior Wealth Director of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, President of EPI Greater Nashville

Gary knows how to get things done.  He is a talented influencer and thought leader, bringing exit planning to the present within a major organization and assisted in the implementation and support from the central office firm to build its exit planning education and owner engagement tools/training. Gary is a prominent speaker, speaking on topics such as “How to Envision your Most Successful Exit.” Additionally, Rzucidlo successfully produced one of the first-ever micro-market State of Owner Readiness Surveys in the Greater Nashville area, in partnership with Vanderbilt University.

Gary Rzucidlo earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2015.


2017 Member of the Year: 4 Nominees

Jan Graybill, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, CEPA, MSFS, CEO & Managing Partner of Legacy Planning Partners

Upon his emergence from CEPA in 2015, Graybill immediately began implementing quarterly educational sessions for business owners to educate his local community in Pennsylvania on the power of Value Acceleration.  He contributes content regularly to the EPI advisor community, including unique income strategies training materials. Jan works collaboratively with a team of CEPAs and exit planners in his region, and in turn, he will serve as a leader on two EPI Chapters in the Greater Philadelphia and Greater Lehigh Valley areas launching in 2017.

Jan Graybill earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2015.

Dan Doran, CVA, CEPA, Principal of Quantive Business Valuations, President of EPI Capitol Region

Dan is a pure example of an entrepreneurial advisor, starting his own valuation firm in 2011. Rather than being limited by the valuation tools (or lack of) in the marketplace, Doran invested in the development of his own software which aided his ability to scale and help more business owners.  After CEPA, Doran introduced exit planning boot camps, taught collaboratively by local experts. He is an accomplished writer and speaker, who runs his advisory practice like a business, setting a perfect, enviable example of owner independence.

Dan Doran earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.

Stephen Capizzi, CEPA, CFP, Founder/Managing Principal of Apex Exit Advisors, President of EPI Georgia

Truly skilled in building teams, Stephen “Steve” Capizzi has been running a successful exit planning advisory firm for the past 22 years (and the financial services industry for 26 years). Steve, along with his Georgia Chapter Leadership Team, have established influential relationships with owner-facing organizations, like internationally-recognized Cox Family Business Center, a part of Kennesaw State University, while building a successful chapter that engages hundreds of advisors annually. Capizzi co-authored the book, Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter and works to educate and empower owners.

Stephen Capizzi earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2008.

Bobby Kingsbury, CEPA, Principal of MCM Capital

Bobby is a rising leader in the exit planning industry and has accelerated through the EPI community quickly. Uniquely, Kingsbury is a “PE guy” who is truly invested in working effectively with advisors to create healthier, more attractive businesses before they come to market.  As skilled, dynamic instructor, Bobby has swiftly become a top-rated instructor in the highly regarded Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) program and is a frequent partner and speaker in the National Owners Forum events.  Bobby dedicates his time and transactional insights to the exit planning community that can be felt nationwide.

Bobby Kingsbury earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.

[Naples, FL] Honorees to be Awarded at the 2017 Exit Planning Summit in September

On September 12, the 2017 Exit Planning Summit will host the Annual Excellence in Exit Planning Awards Luncheon, sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management, our 2017 Title Summit Partner, and the 2017 Honorees will be announced.  This luncheon will follow the much-anticipated session, the Live Owner Roundtables, which will showcase the owner education program in action.


If you haven’t already registered for the 2017 Exit Planning Summit, click here and make plans to join.

If you have questions about the Excellence in Exit Planning Awards or would like to submit feedback, please contact EPI Headquarters by calling (216) 712-4244 or via email.

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