Cleveland, OH – The Exit Planning Institute is proud to announce that two directors of Barnes Wendling CPAs recently earned the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) designation after completing the Institute’s intensive five-day executive MBA-style program virtually in May. Barnes Wendling Directors Matthew Maker and Laurie Gatten join their fellow directors Janine Iacobelli, Michael Essenmacher, Rosemary Rehner, and Michael Pappas as well as an elite group of business advisors who have received this designation and are a part of the Exit Planning Institute’s international community of CEPAs. They are amongst a limited group of CEPAs in Northeast Ohio. The CEPA program is the most widely accepted and endorsed professional exit planning program in the world. Barnes Wendling CPAs is proud to now have six directors with this credential.

Why is this Exit Planning Valuable to Business Owners Today?

The goal of becoming a CEPA is to provide a unique service to clients that is essential for any business strategy. The CEPA is not another credential, it is a solution. This credential is built around providing value to the client and preparing them for their next transition. Given the uncertainty today and the constant changes in our economy, Exit Planning has never been more valuable for a business owner. COVID-19 has taught us a very valuable lesson – plan for the unexpected.  Easier said than done. How can a business owner plan for something that has not happened in over 100 years?  How can you plan for this as well as any other type of situation imaginable?  Practically speaking most people cannot.

Michael Pappas, one of Barnes Wendling’s CEPAs, says that COVID-19 has taught business owners to have a general contingency plan. “These plans should all be part of your overall Exit Planning process.  Remember Exit Planning is about building a great business, creating value, and protecting it as well as providing security for your family,” Pappas adds. The time is now even if you aren’t planning to sell until the distant future creating value is key.

According to the Exit Planning Institute, exit planning combines the plan, concept, effort, and process into a clear, simple strategy to build a business that is transferable through strong human, structural, customer, and social capital. The exit planning service provides Barnes Wendling CPAs with additional knowledge and expertise. They now have a team dedicated to assisting clients in their exit planning strategy and plan to continue to grow the team.

“Our client serve objective is to assist our clients to build and maintain their net worth. The CEPA credential only strengthens our objective by putting a formalized structure to the process,” says Gatten.

About the CEPA Program

The Certified Exit Planning Advisor program was specifically designed for business advisors who work closely with owners of privately held companies. The organizing principle of the program is Master Planning, the alignment of the three legs of the stool (business, personal, financial), which is executed through the implementation of a process called the Value Acceleration Methodology™. Using an executive MBA-style format, the program includes a combination of lectures, group discussions, case studies, and individual exercises to introduce participants to these concepts and to reinforce skills. The program is taught by the Exit Planning Institute’s faculty of advisors, who are all sought after subject matter experts and authors.

To receive the CEPA designation, Maker and Gatten completed the rigorous program that involved approximately 100 hours of pre-course study, 30 hours of classroom instruction, and the successful completion of a three-hour proctored exam. They completed the program virtually, different from their four counterparts who received the credential in 2018 and 2019.

About the Exit Planning Institute

The Exit Planning Institute delivers interactive education and training, performance-enhancing resources, and strategic tools designed to enhance the exit planning profession. Formed in 2005 to serve the educational and resource needs of wealth managers, financial planners, accountants, management consultants, attorneys, M&A advisors, commercial lenders, and other business advisors, the Institute is considered the standard trendsetter in the field of exit planning. It is the only organization that offers the Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) program which qualifies for continuing education credits with twelve major professional associations, making it the most widely accepted and endorsed professional exit planning program in the world.

The Exit Planning Institute serves as a platform for creating awareness, advisor collaboration, innovative learning, continuing education, defining methodology, research, thought leadership, and practice development. Certified Exit Planning Advisors help to identify, protect, build, harvest, and manage wealth to assist business owners and their families through an ownership transition.

To learn more about how to effectively implement an exit planning strategy, contact or call 216-566-9000.



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