How Brett Dearing Broadened His Advisory Scope: A CEPA Spotlight

The community of Certified Exit Planning Advisors (CEPA®) continues to grow. Over 4,000 CEPAs are now active in the exit planning industry, providing the necessary expertise and resources for business owners looking to build business value, exit their business, and have a fulfilling next act. The CEPA community comprises advisors from diverse backgrounds, including accountants, financial advisors, attorneys, wealth managers, and more. 

Today we spotlight 2023 Excellence In Exit Planning Award nominee, Brett Dearing. A CEPA since 2016, Brett has since grown his own advisory practice, adds value to his owner clients’ lives, and is a known thought leader in the exit planning space. 

We spoke to Brett to learn more about how his CEPA credential has helped improve his business! 

Meet Brett Dearing

Brett Dearing provides CEOs and Founders with education and independent advice to meet their unique and ever-changing needs. Brett is a sought-after consultant, planning coach, and keynote speaker for business owners and advisor to business owners of businesses ranging from $30 million to $150 million in enterprise value. He is the Founder of Business Owners Exchange (BXO) and the Partner, Head of Business Owner Advisor & Transaction Services at Cerity Partners. 

With nearly 30 years of experience, Brett has assisted with key planning initiatives, preparedness consulting, and operational enhancements, for privately held and family-owned businesses with ownership totaling $2 billion. Mr. Dearing has assisted Founders in working through the complexities of day-to-day business operations, growth planning, and structuring comprehensive transition plans.

Mr. Dearing focuses on assisting CEOs and Founders with operational enhancements, growth strategies, mergers & acquisitions, recapitalizations, private equity partnerships, strategic acquisitions, spin-out acquisitions, tuck-in strategies, ESOPs, and company valuation & analysis. Mr. Dearing’s experience includes implementing business, financial, and personal planning solutions for Founders.

In previous positions, Mr. Dearing provided outsourced Chief Operating Officer services for Founders. He also served as Senior Vice President at Goldman Sachs, Managing Director at Alliance Bernstein, and has been actively sought to consult endowments & foundations, privately held businesses, family offices, various hedge funds, REITs, and private equity firms to launch business initiatives, go to market strategies and operational enhancements.

Of which of your professional accomplishments this past year are you most proud?

Brett: Philosophically, I have achieved better outcomes for my owner clients not judged by what I do but by what they share with me post-transaction about how thankful they are for our work together. 

From a business perspective, this past year I have had the largest transactions of my career, both well over $100 million in value. I can see the value I am adding to these owner’s lives and businesses. Even if the number of transactions is low, the amount of pre-planning activity is a value add in itself. 

What characteristics do you feel make a successful exit planning advisor?

Brett: First and foremost an effective exit planning advisor is detail oriented. Exit planning advisors work on many tasks and processes simultaneously and have to effectively work with an owner’s team. 

How has your practice changed since you earned your CEPA Credential?

Brett: I was already consulting owners, but I have broadened my scope to growth through acquisition, transaction services, and operational efficiency. Since becoming a CEPA I have formed better and longer lasting relationships with my business owner clients. I have worked with some for 10-15 years at this point. 

How do you define a leader?

Brett: To me, a leader has to have the ability to tell an owner things they might not want to hear but know they must share to get the outcome the owner wants. Leaders also have to be patient and able to work well on a collaborative team. 

How do you share your exit planning expertise with the exit planning community as a whole? 

Brett: I do a lot of webinars and speaking engagements for new advisors. I help them to understand what type of CEPA they want to be in the marketplace. With a diversity of advisors on an owner’s team, I help CEPAs figure out what they bring to the table in terms of expertise and experience, but also personality.  

Become a Certified Exit Planning Advisor® 

The Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) credential is for professional advisors who want to effectively engage more business owners, build value within their business, and exit on their own terms. Through the process of Exit Planning, utilizing the Value Acceleration Methodology, owners can build more valuable companies, have stronger personal financial plans, and align their personal goals. Earning the CEPA credential expands your expertise and enhances your ability to engage business owners and conduct value-added conversations around growth and exit.

The Certified Exit Planning Advisor credential is for those advisors who want to expand their expertise and differentiate themselves from the competition. 

  • Differentiate yourself from the competition
  • Gain better access to business owners
  • Become more engaged on a business owner's advisory team
  • Have deeper and more holistic conversations with business owners
  • Grow your referral network of professional advisors
  • Access hundreds of marketing and business development tools tailored for owners

Learn more about the CEPA program and become your client’s Most Valued Advisor today!