The Exit Planning Summit History…Then and Now

The Exit Planning Summit History…Then and Now

The Exit Planning Institute’s annual gathering, today known as The Exit Planning Summit, will be celebrating its 6th anniversary, while our designation, (Certified Exit Planning Advisor [CEPA]) will celebrate its 10th anniversary.  Additionally, EPI has now been under the leadership of Snider Premier Growth’s (SPG) for five years…and for myself, I am entering my third year at the head of operations.

It’s times like these that make me pause and think about our “come from,” particularly with the Summit itself.


Fort Lauderdale 2011: The Inaugural “Summit.”

The first Summit, originally known as The Exit Planning Institute Annual Conference, was founded back in 2011, by a team of about 40 or 50 individuals, CEPAs and, partners, led by Chris Snider, our now CEO and my business partner. It was a relatively typical-style conference, intended to be an annual coming-together of CEPAs from across the network. A place where they could reconnect on an annual basis, share best practices, and obtain additional training and continuing education. EPI didn’t have chapters back then so this was the only time CEPAs got back together.


The Summit was not held the following year, though 2012 marked a major EPI milestone: SPG purchased EPI from the founders. With such a significant process underway, Pete and Rich decided to put their focus and making sure that was a successful transition and the Summit was placed on pause.


Cleveland 2013: The Hometown of the New EPI Headquarters.

Post transaction and while I was still holding a major role in our private consulting firm, Aspire Management, I was tasked in July 2013 to bring back the Annual Conference, alongside Dennis Gano, our former Vice President who would act as project manager for the event.  And me and Dennis did it that’s for sure. We had about 125 people out in Cleveland, Ohio, showcasing the new city of EPI headquarters, our own hometown, and the brand-new convention center the Cleveland community built. Fun fact: we were the sixth-ever conference held in there.

It was big.  Multiple tracks.  Multiple days.  Multiple speakers and deep dive guru sessions to open and conclude the conference as post conference days. It looked like something that would support some massive organization like AICPA, NACVA, or even AM&AA.  It was a great success and an incredible way to reintroduce the organization under new SPG management.


Fort Worth 2014: Recognizing an Opportunity for Innovation.

In 2014, I was now the EPI Vice President and at the head of operations.  We continued down the traditional conference-style model and replicated it again in Fort Worth, Texas…and honestly, we just didn’t get the turnout or the engagement I really wanted. Something wasn’t working; something didn’t feel right to me.  Knowing the membership and advisor community like I did, I knew that we weren’t hitting the mark.  From there, I was on a mission to figure this out and reenergize this annual event for our CEPAs.



Huntington Beach 2015: A New Name for a New Experience.

In 2015, we debuted our new experience under a new name: the EPI International Summit, in Huntington Beach, California. Only a day and a half long, finishing with an awards luncheon, the Excellence in Exit Planning Awards, that honored CEPAs “doing things right” and pioneering our marketplace. The venue was small, semi-private, that could house our small group nicely and make us feel at home.  We made the delivery style more “workshop,” meaning interactive, small group work, and individually engaging, ensuring that you left actually taking home some tangible items that you could start using in your practice right away.This Summit style was a huge step for EPI, having advisor after advisor share with us how “different” our conference felt and how personalized it had become.  As the leader of EPI, I knew we were on to something.  That our Summit had the potential to become a gathering for advisors who were serious about leading the industry and developing their practices.


Las Vegas 2016: A Gathering of the Advisors of the Future.

2016 built on that momentum and delivered one of our most highly attended and engaged events to date.  Our 2015 Exit Planner of the Year Honoree, Sean Hutchinson, keynoted the event and brought home the theme: the Advisor of the Future.  He also strongly communicated the need for “transformational” thinking versus “transactional” thinking, which set the tone for our newest additions to the Summit experience, which included a “Exited Owners Panel” and the Summit Giveback, a opening reception and charity social where we raised money and did some good for a local nonprofit.

I’d like to think that it was a major win. Attendee feedback was the best and highest scoring it had ever been! Though we were in a bigger venue than in 2015, it frankly become more intimate and authentic than ever before. Felt more like a family or community. And that’s exactly what I wanted for our clients, our CEPAs, because in my opinion that’s who we are.

We aren’t part of the masses. We are small, unique, diverse group of advisors, 600 CEPAs strong, that are pioneering an industry in a new blue ocean marketplace. We are passionate, not only about growing value in an owner’s company, but also changing the outcome in their personal lives by aligning financial goals and finding their passions in their next evolution of life.  That’s one of the best things about being a CEPA; being able to work with owners, both professionally and personally; being able to help them harvest the wealth out of the biggest asset they have.

Regardless, that was the feeling I had. I saw people integrated. Engaged. Challenging themselves and others. Communicating. I also saw lots of laughs. Handshakes. And mini-CEPA class reunions.  It felt incredible to look across the grand hall and see so many elite advisors engaged in new content, learning from experts and each other, refreshing their knowledge (and themselves), building relationships with likeminded people, and enjoying their time inside this community.

Bottom line, CEPAs are the real deal. True thought leaders, pioneers, and risk-takers. The true “Advisors of the Future.”  And we needed an annual event that reflected that internally and externally out into the market.


Bonita Springs 2017: A Celebration of 10 Years of Excellence.

Fast forward to this year: 2017.  Given our growing impact and reach, we have now coined the Summit, The Exit Planning Summit.  Period.  Whether you are a CEPA, an advisor searching for exit planning advanced learning, an owner looking for education on value creation and exit strategy, an academic partner or the media looking for a think tank of high caliber advisors who write, speak, and teach the best content out there, The Exit Planning Summit is your one-stop A true expression to our EPI pillars: Educate, Develop and Engage.

This year, CEPAs will continue to blaze trails together and lead an industry. But different than past years, they will be surrounded by fellow advisors who are investigating exit planning as a service line for their clients, other strategic partners who provide solutions or opportunities, the media who will be covering the best content in the marketplace, and even some business owners who are investigating for themselves how to build value and extract it from their company by working with CEPAs.

After 10 years of efforts and dedication, this is our ecosystem. This is our “mini-market”.  This is what we have created together over the years. So, congratulations to all CEPAs. You have made more than an industry; you have created a community.  And let us not forget our roots. The Exit Planning Summit is your annual gathering for your community of advisors changing the outcome for business owners nationwide and across the world.

About the author: Snider Snider, Vice President, Exit Planning Institute

Meet Scott Snider, EPI Vice President, skilled business development expert, nationally recognized industry leader, and lifetime entrepreneur. Two of Snider’s biggest talents: market penetration and rapid growth strategies. In fact, Snider launched his first business at the age of 17, which he grew exponentially, winning accounts away from larger competitive companies, and establishing notoriety in his local marketplace. At 24, he sold to a strategic buyer (his first “exit”) and joined forces with Chris Snider’s private exit planning and M&A firm, Aspire Management, who was looking to dominate Northeast Ohio’s exit planning space. Within one year, Scott took Aspire from an unknown startup to one of the most influential boutique advisory firms in Cleveland, citing over 13 publication pickups, a full client book, and a COI network that included every specialty from across the exit planning ecosystem. His strategy was integrated, calculated, and educational, prompting high interest and leading prospects to the next crumb in the trail. With their passion for business strategy and serving owners and advisors alike, Snider and Snider purchased the Exit Planning Institute (EPI), introduced the Value Acceleration Methodology, wrote an award-winning book, and effectively increased the business size by 10x. Scott Snider knows how to educate clients, achieve market distinction, and deliver real results.  The Exit Planning Summit is one of Scott’s greatest passions as the leader of the EPI. “I have the privilege of leading an organization of expert advisors who are invested in business owner’s lives, business, personal, and financial, and are truly changing outcomes across the globe,” says Snider, “The Summit is our annual celebration of CEPAs and is an expression of who we are as a community.” Connect with Scott Snider, Vice President of Exit Planning Institute. LinkedIn | Email

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