What is a Business Succession Planner?

The Difference Between Succession Planner, Exit Planner, and Family Business Advisor

The terms succession planner, exit planner, and family business advisor are frequently used interchangeably, but they encompass distinct roles within the context of business transitions. While exit planners and family business advisors address certain aspects of succession planning, the role of a succession planner encompasses a broader and more comprehensive approach.

Succession Planner:

A succession planner's primary objective is to ensure the continued success of a business through the transition to the next generation of owners and managers. This involves assessing all ten interdependent aspects of the Succession Matrix®, a comprehensive framework for successful succession. A succession planner leads an advisory team to confirm succession contingencies, develop a plan, and deploy strategies to achieve business owners' succession goals. While they may specialize in specific disciplines like finance, law, or strategic planning, they must have a well-rounded understanding of all Succession Matrix® factors to coordinate the efforts of the entire planning team.

Collaborating with a succession planner to address all Succession Matrix® components builds and safeguards business value, as it acknowledges that business value relies on the probability of continued success.

Exit Planner:

Exit planners focus primarily on the transactional aspects of leaving a business, including financial and legal considerations. Their work aligns closely with merger and acquisition activities, wealth management, and estate planning. Often, exit planners neglect the softer issues within the Succession Matrix®, impacting the achievement of owner goals and business value. For improved outcomes, exit planners can broaden their perspective to focus on the continuation of success through the next generation, factoring in both financial and cultural considerations.

Family Business Advisor:

Family business advisors concentrate on family ownership and management aspects, representing a portion of the Succession Matrix®. While they address familial dynamics, the succession planner considers family as individuals united in business beyond financial interests. The succession planner prioritizes the continuity of a thriving business owned and managed by family members who share a commitment to the business.


Exit planners and family business advisors offer valuable services but tend to focus on business continuity rather than comprehensive succession. By understanding the Succession Matrix®, these professionals can elevate their practice and contribute more effectively to successful business transitions. On the other hand, succession planners adopt a holistic, long-term responsibility, addressing the needs of stakeholders invested in business success across generations.

Defining Business Succession Planning:

Business succession planning is a transitional process dedicated to ensuring a smooth transfer and enduring continuity of an operating business through the next generation of owners, leaders, and managers. This process goes beyond estate planning and profits, focusing on addressing the Succession Matrix®, a collection of interdependent, long-term performance factors that significantly influence succession success and business value.

Succession Planning: A Strategic Discipline

Succession planning is a strategic discipline that elevates a professional's practice. It requires the ability to see both the big picture and the intricate details. A seasoned professional who possesses expertise in various areas of the Succession Matrix® and is committed to continuous growth can excel as a succession planner. Collaboration is key, as succession planners lead and support advisory teams to accomplish clients' goals.

The Succession Matrix®: Essential Factors for Business Value and Succession Success®

The ISPA® founders identified critical planning factors vital to a business's continuity through the next generation. The interdependent Succession Matrix® factors include:

  • Owner Motivation & Perspective
  • Personal Financial Planning
  • Business Structuring
  • Business Performance
  • Strategic Planning
  • Leadership & Management Continuity
  • Management Synergy & Teamwork
  • Successor Preparation
  • Family - Partner Dynamics
  • Family - Partner Governance

For comprehensive business succession planning, understanding and addressing all these factors is key to a successful transition.

Categories: : Matrix


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