July 9, 2009

Business Valuation Services – Calculation of Value vs. Conclusion of Value: What’s the Difference?

By Sean R. Saari, Partner, Advisory Services

Business Valuation Services – Calculation of Value vs. Conclusion of Value: What’s the Difference?

A business valuation is a just a business valuation – isn’t it? This would be akin to saying that a steak is just a steak when, in fact, there are ribeyes, strips, sirloins, and filets (just to name a few). Likewise, business valuations come in two distinct “flavors” – conclusions of value and calculations of value.

As of January 1, 2008, valuation analysts who hold either the Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) credential supported by the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts or the Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) credential supported by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have been required to follow new standards that clearly delineate between two types of valuation engagements. Similar to the differing levels of service traditionally offered by accounting firms in performing audits, reviews, or compilations, business valuation engagements are now separated into two defined service categories:

Conclusion of Value

–          All three valuation methods (asset-based, income-based, and market-based) are required to be considered

–          Detailed development and reporting requirements must be adhered to by the valuation analyst, making the engagement more time consuming than a calculation of value

–          This is the required type of report for estate and gift tax filings; Also typically required for instances in which the valuation analyst will need to defend his or her findings and report (i.e. in litigation)

–          The valuation analyst opines on the value of the business or business ownership interest

Calculation of Value

–          The valuation methods to be used in determining value are discussed and agreed upon beforehand between the client and the valuation analyst

–          Reduced development and reporting requirements compared to conclusion of value engagement

–          Ideal for planning purposes (e.g. strategic planning, transaction (purchase or sale) planning, or litigation or divorce proceedings in the settlement stage)

–          Valuation analyst does not opine of the value of the business or business interest, rather, the valuation analyst applies the valuation methodologies agreed upon with the client

–          Generally not defensible in litigation settings because the valuation analyst is not offering an opinion of value, rather, the analyst “calculates” a value based on methods agreed upon with the client

–          Typically costs less than a conclusion of value

–          Has been found to be useful in divorce situations in which a spouse will obtain a calculation of value to aid in the settlement process; If a settlement is not reached, the engagement can then escalate to a conclusion of value so that the valuation analyst can opine on a value and defend it in court, if needed

As you can tell from the discussion above, all “valuation” work is not created equal. For business owners, as well as their attorneys and other advisors, it is important to be aware of the varying levels of valuation service offered so that the appropriate type of report is obtained. You should discuss the purpose of the valuation with the valuation expert in detail as the engagement is forming so that the level of service can be tailored to your specific needs. 

The last thing that you want to do when having a valuation performed is pay too much to obtain a conclusion of value that will only be used for planning purposes or pay too little to obtain calculation of value that will not hold up in litigation or under IRS scrutiny.

Looking for business valuation assistance in Cleveland or Akron? Contact our Business Valuation Services group at 440-459-5700 for more information.