Financial services consulting firm DeVoe & Co. and asset manager Dimensional Fund Advisors today announced the launch of a coaching program to help financial advisors working with DFA to create succession plans and learn the fundamentals of evaluating their firms within the context of mergers and acquisitions.

The Accelerating Success through Transition Planning program is the industry's first transition coaching program, says David DeVoe, a former M&A consultant at Schwab Advisory Services who started his San Francisco-based firm a year ago. He notes the program came about as a collaboration between himself and DFA, an Austin, Texas-based company with $235 billion in client assets, which did a study finding that just 22% of its client advisors had a written succession plan.

"That's in line with other studies showing that 75% to 80% of advisors don't have a succession plan in place," DeVoe says. "That's an exposure point for the industry because demographics are trending toward retirement age and there's a gap between retirement and succession planning."

The program with DFA will entail 40 hours of class time over six months through a variety of channels--webinars, direct phone consultations with DeVoe, peer coaching and three in-person workshops in Santa Monica, Calif.

The program will address such areas as focusing on the strategic context for a transaction, identifying a suitable partner, structuring a deal, and developing a plan for integrating a future partner.

DeVoe states that succession planning and M&A both involve the need for a strategic plan, a valuation, deal structure, and legal, tax and organizational assessments. "Program attendees can either create a succession plan or craft an M&A strategy through this process," he says.

The transition planning coaching program with DFA can accommodate between 10 to 25 attendeess. The cost is $15,000 per attendee, which DeVoe says is half the amount the program's services would cost outside of this program. The expected start date is February 2013.

--Jeff Schlegel