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Q: What will happen once I agree to sell?

The process is often a case of due diligence in a financial, legal and regulatory sense, according to David Hesketh, group mergers and acquisition manager of Perspective Financial Group Ltd.

Once this process is completed and ‘ticked off’ the agreements can be signed, sealed and delivered, Mr Hesketh said.

The tricky part for any owner is to ensure their practice is in the right shape in order to have the best chance of being acquired, according to Mr Hesketh.

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He said: “This should certainly mean not reining the business in when it comes to RDR; a practice is a much more attractive proposition now if it is cantering towards RDR rather than one that has either stopped or is looking around for help.

“Time will be of the essence and as 2013 gets ever closer practices that are fully engaged with their transition will certainly have the edge, particularly if the financials also stack up.”

Phil Young, managing director of Threesixty Services, said it was rare to get much money up front other than in larger deals nowadays.

Previously a third up front, and third paid on the first anniversary and the final third on the second or third anniversary was more common, but Mr Young said this was more exceptional now.

He said: “All deals will involve an earn out where money paid can be ‘clawed back’ if certain criteria (usually persistency related) are met.

“Increasingly small firms are paid out on the drip over a number of years as part of an licensing agreement rather than outright acquisition.”