Aligning the culture of the businesses involved in an acquisition is extremely important to ensure the transaction is mutually beneficial and achieves what both parties are seeking to achieve. In many cases, a client bank is not simply an asset to be sold! A client bank is the result of many years of hard work and dedication, the personal relationship between the Advisor and client build up over time. To avoid reducing the acquisition process to a simple exchange of assets, the cultural fit must be prioritised to ensure a better outcome for all parties – including clients, staff, and advisors!

What is meant by the term ‘Aligning Culture?’

The term ‘aligning culture’ refers to the matching of the values, beliefs, and goals of two businesses. Ideally, when two businesses are being brought together they should be like-minded in their approach to client servicing and respect for staff and Advisors. Although this may be considered a minor factor in the wider acquisition process, misaligned business cultures can have a significant impact on the success of an acquisition.

Mutually Beneficial for all parties

An acquisition should be a mutually beneficial process for both parties that achieves the long-term desired outcomes for all key stakeholders. 

The acquirer is not simply purchasing clients, but rather assuming the responsibility of nurturing the established client relationships that have been gradually built over years of dedication and care. A well aligned culture will ensure the successful continuation of these relationships, securing client satisfaction and improving retention rates post sale. 

Well aligned culture is also highly beneficial for staff satisfaction. Employees are key stakeholders in the sale process and need to be enthusiastic for the transition for the acquisition to be successful. They should be able to see a future with the acquiring business that is fulfilling and exciting, and in line with their own long-term career goals and aspirations. A well-aligned business culture will help to improve staff retention rates as well as clients, ensuring they want to stay post sale instead of looking to move elsewhere.

The eventual timeline of the Vendor and any Advisors should ideally line up with their original plans. There should be no rush to alter or shorten their original plans due to feelings of dissatisfaction or a desire to leave the business due to unmet expectations. A well aligned culture is key for this as it will facilitate the continuation of the businesses key values and aims, allowing their original practice and plans to be as closely adhered to as possible. If there is pressure to stray from their initial future goals, there is the potential for Vendor and Advisors to be left feeling unsatisfied, prompting the unwanted shortening, or altering of their timeline.   

A handshake

Achieving Cultural Alignment

When undertaking an acquisition, both the Vendor and the Acquirer should seek to be flexible and emphasise collaboration when agreeing on terms for the deal. Setting terms and remaining immovable can be highly unproductive and ultimately lead to dissatisfaction for both parties in the long term. Cooperation is key for achieving well aligned business cultures and negotiating the most ideal scenario for all stakeholders, ensuring a smooth transition.

A good acquisitions broker is hugely beneficial for this process. The broker benefits from an objective perspective, allowing them to evaluate both businesses and effectively determine if they will align well. They will also be able to effectively and efficiently communicate with both sides to help identify solutions to any areas of friction. 

Change can be daunting, but some is inevitable and not necessarily detrimental to clients or advisers staying post sale. An example of this is where an adviser has previously carried out their own stock picking whereas the acquiring firm use qualified investment managers to perform this task. Another might be where there is an uplift on adviser fee but through economies of scale are able to offset this increase through a reduction on platform or fund manager charges so that the TER has little or no change and on some occasions result in cheaper total costs. Sometimes this can mean that the service proposition is enhanced such as adding cashflow modelling. These changes are still likely to embrace cultural alignment which is about providing a client centric proposition where any changes are in the clients best interest and putting the client at the heart of all acquisition processes. Aiming to be open to change is one of the best ways to achieve cultural alignment and to keep the interests of your clients at the forefront of the acquisition process, ensuring they are well cared for once the sale is complete.


Although it may seem a minor factor, the cultural alignment of two businesses can have a significant impact on the success of an acquisition. Matching the values, beliefs, and goals of the businesses during the sale process can help ensure all key stakeholders are satisfied and maximise the retention rate of clients post sale. Utilising a good broker can be extremely beneficial for aligning cultures and ultimately ensuring the success of an acquisition. 

Considering selling your IFA business? Why not get in touch to discuss your options!

Contact us on IFA Acquisitions or Call Us on 0208 0044 162