2016 AICPA AAML Conference

Z. Christopher Mercer is participating in the AICPA AAML National Conference on Divorce in New Orleans, May 19 – 20 at the Sheraton.  In this podcast Chris talks about his presentation and the panel discussion he will be a part of.

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Chris, can you tell us a little bit about your presentation, “I don’t buy it: The effect of buy-sell agreements in divorce” for the 2016 AICPA/AAML Conference on Divorce?

Sure. I’m pretty excited about this session because I’m planning to give an overview of buy-sell agreements for the variety of people that will be there – and then drill down in the divorce arena to talk about why it’s important to look at buy-sell agreements, whether consents are appropriate, and what’s the meaning of a consent by an out-spouse.

We want to define value for divorce purposes. Does the buy-sell agreement create a definitive value for divorce purposes? This is going to be an important question every time there’s a buy-sell agreement. I’m also going to do something a little different this time: I’m going to conduct a survey of the attorneys and CPAs who are planning to attend, asking a number of questions about current practice in the divorce arena and also asking them to provide questions that they have about valuation and divorce. So a good bit of the time that I’ll spend, I hope to be addressing specifically the most pressing questions that have been asked by the audience.

People will be able to submit their questions in advance as part of this survey?

Yes, that’s the idea. In other words, rather than waiting to get there to ask a question and then not being able to get the question answered while you’re there, ask the question now and there should be some general flow to those questions. And so I’ll be able to organize them and try to address the pressing ones directly.

How frequently does the question of buy-sell agreements arise in divorce – at least in your practice?

The existence of a buy-sell agreement is a factor in almost every valuation. So for every company that has a buy-sell agreement and a shareholder who’s getting divorced, we’re going to have to look at the buy-sell agreement and see what the document states about what happens when a divorce occurs.

I read a buy-sell agreement one time where if one of the four equal partners got a divorce, the others could fire him and buy his stock. Now that’s not the general intent of the divorce provision in a buy-sell agreement, but you have to look at it, you have to understand what the relationship is between value or fair market value, the value that’s required by the state in which you’re domicile and the buy-sell agreement.

You’re also participating in the “Battle Royale” panel discussion. What can a delegate expect to learn from attending this presentation?

Well, number one, I hope you can expect to have a good time if you come because Jim Hitchner, Nancy Fannnon, Jay Fishman, Ron Seigneur, and I will be there. What I find in discussions like that is that they’re always interesting because Jay will have a different perspective than I do (he’s wrong, of course!), and Nancy might have a different impression (and she’s also wrong, of course!) – but they’ll be sure to tell me if I’m wrong. So in any event, it will be fun and it will also be informative because we’ll be talking about some of the key valuation issues that are present today.

I’ve asked Jim as the moderator to also frame a few questions that will elicit direct experience from the panel. For example, one of the questions that I’m asking him to ask us is what’s the worst thing that ever happened to you at trial that you’re willing to talk about?

I want to hear the answers to that one!

Yeah, I know what my story will be.

Final question, there are many, many other legal and financial conferences that take place every year. What sets the AICPA/AAML Conference on Divorce apart from all of the other conferences sponsored by legal and financial organizations? If someone is only going to go one conference this year, why should this be the one?

I think that this conference is very interesting because of the mix of people that are there. You’ve got divorce lawyers from all over the country and you’ve got CPAs and other valuation-related people. And the conversations that you have, the people that you meet when you’re not in session are sometimes the best part of the conference. And another reason to go to the conference is to go to New Orleans. I haven’t been to a conference in New Orleans in a long time and I’m really excited about that.


Christopher Mercer is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mercer Capital, a national business valuation and financial advisory firm. Chris has prepared, overseen or contributed to hundreds of valuations for purposes related to tax, ESOPs, buy-sell agreements, and litigation. He has extensive experience in litigation engagements including statutory fair value cases, divorce, and numerous other matters where valuation is used are in question. He’s a prolific author on valuation related topics and a frequent speaker on business valuation issues for national professional associations and other business and professional groups. Family Lawyer Magazine Editorial Director Diana Shepherd interviewed him for this special podcast.


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The regular rate for the Conference is $1,425. There is an additional charge for the pre-conference workshops. Click here for more information about the Conference and to register. Several discounts are available:

  1. Early Bird Discount – register by April 4, 2016 and receive $75 off.
  2. Discounts for AICPA and AAML members – $300.

Both discounts can be combined. Click here for more information and to register.

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