Celebrating Our First 30 Years
World Class Mergers & Acquisitions Since 1993
Request a Call 800.567.1119

Selecting the Ideal Expertise: Comparing Business Brokers, M&A Advisors & Investment Bankers

March 6, 2024

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are significant events for any company, big or small. The complexity of these transactions requires the expertise of professionals who can navigate the legal, financial, and strategic aspects involved. Business brokers, M&A advisors and investment bankers are at the forefront of these deals, each playing a specific role.

By understanding the differences between these professionals, business owners and company heads will be better equipped to choose whether a business broker, M&A Advisor or investment banker is best-suited to guide their business through a mergers and acquisitions process. Let’s dive in and explore the unique benefits each offers in the world of M&A transactions.

Business Brokers: The Small Business Deal Facilitators

What is a Business Broker?

A business broker is a professional who specializes in buying and selling micro- to small-sized businesses (typically businesses with an annual revenue of less than $5 million). They have a network of potential buyers and sellers in the micro- to small-sized business landscape, and they can help navigate the process of valuing and marketing these businesses.

Business brokers work closely with micro- to small-sized business owners to understand their goals and objectives, and they use their expertise to find the right buyers who align with the sellers’ objectives. They have a deep understanding of the micro- to small-sized business market and can provide valuable insights on the current trends and conditions affecting the M&A transaction landscape in this lower market tier.

What Role Do Business Brokers Play in Mergers and Acquisitions?

In the context of mergers and acquisitions, business brokers primarily focus on facilitating the sale of micro- to small-sized businesses. Their expertise lies in marketing these businesses for sale, identifying potential buyers, assisting with the negotiation and deal closing.

What Services Do Business Brokers Provide?

In brief, business brokers conduct market analyses, prepare marketing materials, screen potential buyers, and arrange meetings between buyers and sellers of micro- to small-sized businesses. They also play a role in negotiating the terms of the sale, aiming to secure the best possible deal for their clients.

Who Should Engage a Business Broker?

Brokers are particularly valuable for micro- to small-sized businesses (those with an annual revenue of less than $5 million) that may not attract the attention of large investment banking firms due to their size.

Mergers and Acquisitions Advisors: The Strategic Guides for Mid- to Large-Sized Businesses

What is a Mergers and Acquisitions Advisor?

A M&A advisor is a professional who specializes in facilitating more complex mergers and acquisitions transactions, typically for mid- to large-sized companies (those with an annual revenue of between $5 million and $150 million).

M&A advisors bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the table. They have a deep understanding of the dynamics and trends that can impact the success of a transaction in the mid- to large-sized business landscape. They also have access to a wide network of potential buyers or sellers within this marketplace, allowing them to identify the right opportunities for their clients.

M&A advisors also provide valuable insights into the financial aspects of a deal. They help mid- to large-sized companies assess the value of their business, negotiate the terms of the transaction, and navigate the due diligence process. Seasoned M&A Advisors, like Woodbridge International, will also guide the client through legal and tax compliancy, and recommend wealth management services to ensure the best outcome for the profits from sale.

Importantly, M&A advisors work closely with their clients to develop a comprehensive strategy that aligns with their long-term goals and objectives, and continue to provide strategic advice and guidance throughout the entire process, ensuring that the deal is structured and executed in the most efficient and profitable manner.

What Role Do M&A Advisors Play in Mergers and Acquisitions?

M&A advisors specialize in guiding mid- to large-sized companies through the complex merger or acquisition process. Their expertise spans strategic planning, valuation, due diligence, negotiation, fostering trust between buyer and seller, and deal structuring. They often work closely with the company’s senior management to align the M&A strategy with the company’s overall strategic goals.

What Services Do M&A Advisors Provide?

M&A advisors offer a comprehensive suite of services, including performing business valuations, identifying potential acquisition targets or suitable buyers, marketing the business to potential buyers, obtaining bids on the company, advising on deal structure, and negotiating terms.

They also provide critical due diligence services, ensuring that their clients are fully aware of the risks and opportunities involved in the transaction.

Some M&A advisors, like Woodbridge International, offer additional services like training the client’s management team on how to handle meetings with potential buyers.

Who Should Engage a M&A Advisor?

In general, mid- to large-sized businesses with an annual revenue of between $5 million and $150 million should engage M&A advisors when they require expert guidance to navigate the complexities of an M&A transaction, especially when strategic alignment and detailed due diligence are critical to the deal’s success.

Investment Bankers: The Financial Architects for Large Corporates

What is an Investment Banker?

Investment bankers are financial professionals who specialize in providing advisory services to companies – typically for large companies (annual revenue of more than $150 million), corporates and multinationals – looking to raise capital or execute mergers and acquisitions. They have extensive knowledge and expertise in finance, as well as a wide network of potential investors and buyers.

In the M&A process, the investment banker acts as an intermediary between the company and the investors or buyers. They help the company prepare for the transaction by conducting thorough financial analysis, valuing the company, and identifying potential buyers or investors.

Once the company is ready to move forward, the investment banker will help negotiate the terms of the deal, structure the transaction, and ensure a smooth execution.

What Role Do Investment Bankers Play in Mergers and Acquisitions?

In M&A transactions, investment bankers are involved in larger, more complex deals, providing services such as financial modeling, deal structuring, and arranging financing. They possess deep knowledge of capital markets and have extensive networks of potential buyers and investors.

What Services Do Investment Bankers Provide?

The services of investment bankers include advising on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and financing options. They prepare financial analyses, valuation models, and pitch books to market the deal to potential buyers or investors. Investment bankers also play a key role in negotiating deal terms and structuring the transaction to align with regulatory requirements and strategic objectives.

Who Should Engage an Investment Banker?

Larger companies (revenue of more than $150 million per annum), corporations, multinationals or those involved in extremely complex transactions should engage investment bankers. Their expertise in finance, capital markets, and regulatory compliance makes investment bankers invaluable for executing large-scale M&A transactions, or when raising capital is a component of the deal.

Business Broker, M&A Advisor or Investment Banker: Which Professional is Best-Suited to Sell Your Business?

While M&A advisors, business brokers and investment bankers all play vital roles in the M&A ecosystem, it’s clear that their areas of expertise, the services they provide, and the types of transactions they typically handle vary significantly. So which M&A professional do you need to sell your business?

A basic rule of thumb is to choose a professional based on your company’s annual turnover. If your business’ annual revenue is less than $5 million a business broker may be best positioned to handle the M&A process. If your business’ annual revenue is between $5 million and $150 million, you’ll generally gain the most benefit from a M&A advisor. And if it’s a large corporation and/or a particularly complex financial transaction, an investment banker may be best placed to assist in your M&A transaction.

This rule of thumb is by no means absolute; there are many exceptions. But it’s a good place to start looking for a professional that’s best suited to your needs. Whichever route you choose, it’s always advisable to interview more than one professional, asking each the same questions for direct comparison. Here’s a list of questions to ask prospective M&A professionals during the interview process.

Woodbridge International offers free valuations for businesses with an annual revenue of $5 million-plus, and our team of M&A advisors is always available to answer your questions. Contact us today to set up an obligation-free meeting.