Is there an AI role in Exit Planning?
The media is packed with stories about Artificial Intelligence. According to the stories, because a smart search engine (which is essentially what a Learning Language Model [LLM] is,) can pass a Bar exam, it threatens all kinds of white-collar careers.
And in case you were wondering, no – I’m not writing this on ChapGPT. That “surprise” trope has been so overdone on every local television station that I hope I never see it again. Also, if you thought this column would be about how to write letters, proposals, and social media posts using AI, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
At ExitMap® we launched our AI upgrade in May. It does all the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph, but it can also be a useful tool for owners within its limitations. Writing a few hundred prompts (They used to be called “queries,” I don’t know the difference) has given us some insight into how it works, and where it doesn’t.
Using AI for research
What works for advisors also works for business owners. If you want to begin exploring our exit planning options using the free ap
plication of ChatGPT, here are some guidelines.
First, don’t ask AI for advice. Just about any prompt that begins with a first-person pronoun (I or we) will generate a disclaimer something like “As an AI, I don’t know the individual circumstances of the situation.” If you regenerate the response it will often drop the disclaimer. What follows is usually along the lines of “But here are some of the typical actions in such a situation,” which can be useful.
It’s worth it to ask things in different ways. For example, ask “What kind of incentives can help with employee retention after a sale?” The response will be more generic, like “a good culture, opportunity for advancement, job security, recognition, and stay bonuses.” If you add “structured financial” in front of incentives the response will include descriptions of stay bonuses, equity participation, performance bonuses, golden handcuffs, and phantom stock plans.
If you aren’t an attorney, you still know that a business with multiple owners should have a buy/sell agreement. Some owners say “Why? We’ve made it for 25 years without one.” Prompting AI for reasons to have a buy/sell agreement will generate comments on Succession Planning, Valuation. Preventing Unwanted Owners, Stability and Continuity, Funding Mechanisms, Conflict Resolution, and Tax Planning with an explanation of applicable situations for each.
I have clients who are already using AI to read X-rays, score Customer Service calls, and write employee satisfaction surveys. I work with one owner who creates orientation and training videos using an AI-generated animation of himself that reads AI-generated scripts.
The AI role in exit planning
What is the AI role in Exit Planning? Considering that exit planning as an activity involves multiple specialty advisors, you can save a lot of time and money by asking questions in various areas. Here are ten examples to start you off.
- List the different exit planning options available to business owners
- What is the difference between a certified valuation and a calculation of value?
- What performance metrics can be used to assess a management team’s readiness for succession?
- What situations indicate a need for a company to upgrade or revamp its purchasing systems?
- Describe the differences between Core Values, a Mission statement, and Company Vision.
- Explain the potential tax benefits of an ESOP for the company, owner, and employees.
- How does owner centricity impact the Fair Market Value of a business?
- List key components of a Business Continuity Plan.
- What are common strategies that buyers use to finance a purchase?
- How do you balance the needs of family employees and family stakeholders outside of the business?
Every business is different, and every owner is unique. No query can possibly take into consideration all of the variables inherent in every transition. That’s why we still need advisors.
The AI role in exit planning helps an owner to better prepare when talking to an advisor. It helps owners be better able to explore other options than the ones that are most obvious.
This article was originally published by John F. Dini, CBEC, CExP, CEPA on awakeat2oclock.com. John develops transition and succession strategies that allow business owners to exit their companies on their own schedule, with the proceeds they seek and complete control over the process. He takes a coaching approach to client engagements, focusing on helping owners of companies with $1M to $250M in revenue achieve both their desired lifestyles and legacies