Andrew Dunbar (left) and David Haintz

The merger process is fraught with pitfalls that can thwart deals and provide valuable lessons to those involved.

Andrew Dunbar, a director and senior financial adviser at APT Wealth, has learnt the importance of getting the cultural alignment right after completing five “bolt-on” style acquisitions or mergers over the past seven years.

“Don’t underestimate how difficult it can be to bring two potentially different operating models and business philosophies together, especially if the principal is staying,” he tells Professional Planner.

“No matter how attractive the financial outcome, don’t do anything that can jeopardise your culture. If you sense the cultural alignment is not quite right, move on to the next deal.”

Dunbar believes it’s crucial to dedicate sufficient resources to the process to ensure everyone gets the support they need.

“Whatever resources you think you need, you’ll likely need double,” he says. “You’ll want to throw plenty of staff at it to ensure the cultural and process integration is optimised.”

Go for growth

Merchant Wealth Partners partner David Haintz believes growth should not just be a goal of the acquisition.

“It is a necessity,” he says. “In the competitive employment environment, you’re going to struggle to attract and retain good people unless you can provide opportunities for their personal and career development.

“That’s tough to do in a business that isn’t growing. There is nothing wrong with a lifestyle practice, but it will come with consequences such as glass ceilings and staff turnover.”