OK, you’ve got your MBA. It’s from a good school, and you’re on the fast track to success, right?
Maybe. While an MBA is a good place to start your business education, you will be graduating into a deep pool of similarly credentialed kids, so it’s going to be a struggle to stand out in the job market. As a result, many business professionals end up supplementing their MBAs with another three letters. The question is: which ones?
An up-and-coming designation is CBV, or chartered business valuator. They’re the ones who are trained to put a value not only on business tangibles but also the intangibles such as market position, reputation, intellectual property and key patents. Currently held by just over 1,100 Canadians, a CBV has become a sought-after credential, especially in the hot private-equity sector, where companies don’t have the benefit of a public share price to help figure out what they’re really worth. “We put a value on all the things that used to be grouped under goodwill,” says Farley Cohen, managing director of Navigant Consulting and a board member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators. “The economy is more sophisticated today, and the need for valuation of intangible assets is more significant than in the past, so there is a demand for this.”
Bill Farrell, senior vice-president of Toronto-based Commercial Capital Corp., says getting a CBV was a big help in launching his investment banking career. “This can be a tough discipline to get into. There are a lot of politics and big egos.” With his CBV, Farrell was able to quickly begin working in the Canadian mid-market, where there is a steady stream of privately held companies that have been involved in M&As over the past couple of years. “It’s about bringing a more objective process to what is a subjective process,” says Farrell.
CBV holders may also find themselves involved in minority-shareholder-rights suits. For instance, Cohen was involved in Stelco’s restructuring, working on behalf of the common shareholders who argued that the company had a value of $750 million. The judge didn’t agree, siding with the lower estimate by the bondholders. But when the new Stelco stock started trading, the share price immediately reflected the view of the CBVs. “We were vindicated by the stock market,” says Cohen.
But before rushing off to get a CBV, know that it is one tough designation to acquire. Only 60% of those who take the final exam pass. Make the grade and you might find yourself working in corporate finance, taxation, valuation for financial reporting, investment banking, the mutual fund industry, venture capital or litigation. In fact, 80% of the Top 25 expert financial witnesses in Canada (as determined by Lexpert, a lawyer’s trade magazine) were CBVs. “That tells me it’s recognized, that it’s a rigorous designation and in demand,” says Farley.
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