The EPI Story
The Exit Planning Institute has it origins in the Exit Planning Coach Process, developed by Peter Christman during his 26-year investment banking career. After helping his clients sell over 100 businesses, Peter realized business owners needed a more proactive approach to exiting their businesses in order to consistently achieve their goals. From that realization, Peter began to develop his exit planning process in 2001.
Peter teamed up with Richard Jackim and together they finalized the process. Between 2003 and 2005, Peter and Rich gained the interest of not only business owners, but also fellow professional advisors, and gave over 100 presentations on the topic of exit planning. In response to gaining interest, Rich wrote the book “The $10 Trillion Opportunity: Designing Successful Exit Strategies for Middle Market Business Owners,” released late in 2005. The book gained immense popularity, increasing awareness of exit planning, this led to Peter and Rich forming the Exit Planning Institute in 2005. EPI was built on the foundation of providing education, research and tools for fellow professional advisors to integrate the exit planning process and concepts from the “$10 Trillion Opportunity” book into their practice.
The Exit Planning Institute released the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) credentialing program. The CEPA program began to be offered twice per year at the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business. The Program was designed to take professional advisors from a diverse set of disciplines through a specific process for exit planning and provide the tools needed to assist owners exit their businesses.
EPI from 2007 to 2012, would go on to grow to 200 CEPAs across three countries, including the US, Australia, and Canada. This time in EPI’s history, from 2006 to 2012, has been coined EPI 1.0.
The next evolution of EPI came in as Peter and Rich looked to make their own transition. Peter and Rich first looked to EPI’s members for interest and approached Chris Snider. Chris operated a private practice located in Cleveland Ohio focused on delivering value growth and M&A services to privately held businesses. He had completed the CEPA Program in 2008 and had become heavily involved in EPI as a board member chairing the inaugural EPI International Conference in 2011 and launching, with the help of Peter Christman, the first ever EPI Chapter located in Northeast Ohio. Meanwhile, Chris earlier that year, alongside his business partner and son Scott, opened a small family office aimed at investing in businesses within various markets, including education. With the EPI opportunity at hand and a growing market for exit planning, Chris and Scott purchased the Exit Planning Institute in the late fall of 2012. Chris became the President of EPI and Scott took on the role of Vice President and Operations Manager.
Having already been a member for four years before purchasing EPI, Chris and several key members of EPI at the time recognized several opportunities for improvement. Not only were owners uneducated about exit planning but most advisors were as well. There was very little collaboration among advisors even within the EPI community. There was limited leveraging of the collective and powerful intellect of the membership. There was no methodology for binding advisors together and a common approach to deliver services and develop best practices. Although the CEPA program was the best the industry had to offer, it was still a collection of independent presentations that lacked integration, marketability and application to build an actual exit planning practice which was the ultimate vision of Peter Christman when he cofounded EPI in 2005.
Chris and Scott, along with the help of several key members and the board of advisors, immediately developed a two part multi-year strategy which they coined EPI 2.0 and EPI 3.0. Both strategies focused on a longer term objective of delivering solutions to the members which would create new revenue streams by engaging owners in a proactive process of creating value and preparing them for an unplanned or planned transition.
Through Chris’s extensive work in the industry, the CEPA Program teachings and research, the Value Acceleration Methodology was born. In 2014, the Methodology was adopted as the core process followed and taught in the CEPA Program. The Methodology supplemented the existing “$10 Trillion Opportunity” book, which originally created the revenue producing model for exit planning within advisors’ existing practices. Chris was later recognized with the AM&AA as a finalist for Thought Leader of the Year for his creation of the Value Acceleration Methodology.
During this two-year period Chris and Scott were able to engage EPIs leadership to create a more compelling platform. EPI grew from 200 to 350 members, launched eight local Chapters across the U.S., hosted two annual International Conferences, improved the CEPA Program content, added several new faculty members, and released the State of Owner Readiness Survey™.
EPI 3.0 launched in 2015 as EPI 2.0 continues to be rolled out. In addition to providing training and credentials and the platform, research, methodology, tools and systems CEPAs need to successfully implement and launch their exit planning practice, EPI 3.0 includes a robust Strategic Alliance Partner Program, which brings together the top solutions, tools, and resources for CEPAs to grow their practice and drive additional revenue. EPI is also working to provide commercial revenue generating opportunities, investing in pre-packaged sales and marketing solutions and information technology, developing corporate programs, and bringing more awareness to business owners on the importance of exit planning, all while still providing the core services of elite educational training and conducting critical research for its members and the industry.
EPI of current is emerging as a worldwide recognized leader in the exit planning industry and is on a wave of momentum, powered by a strong, active community of CEPAs, members, faculty, board and leading industry experts. This momentum is apparent in the growth happening within EPI - the local EPI Chapter Network has expanded to 14 (with another 2 Chapters slated to launch in late 2015); a Presidents Circle, which includes the Presidents of each chapter, has emerged as a strong leadership and management advisory group with EPI; the CEPA Program is setting new attendance records and is now offered 5 times a year; a condensed one-day course, the Certificate in Exit Planning, was released in 2015 with 10 scheduled program dates across the US; and EPIs Strategic Partner Alliance Program continues to grow. With EPI’s program expansion, membership has grown to over 400 professional advisors from 8 countries around the world - and continues to grow on a daily basis.