October 28, 2019 BMF InsightsMeet Our Team BMF

When she earned her degree in accounting, Mindy Marsden never thought she’d be more of a storyteller than a financial expert.

Mindy joined BMF’s audit practice in 2008. After spending five years gaining valuable insight into the practice and building her expertise, she transitioned to our national Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) practice. Now, nearly nine years later, she’s still excited about the different challenges she faces in her business valuation work.

“I love the creativity in what we do here,” Mindy described. “Every deal seems to call for unusual solutions and interpretations and every deal is different. We work on dozens of deals a year and everyone requires us to balance different agendas, personalities and dynamics that go far beyond just what appears on a balance sheet.”

Mindy said that much of her team’s work is spent weaving a story behind EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) reports and projections in order to interpret how the business is presented to a buyer or seller. In some ways, her job places her in the center of conflict, the natural tension that exists between the two sides in any transaction.

“As we’re building valuation and forecast, the task at hand in any negotiation is to start from a position of greater strength than the other team, to have the supporting data and financials we need to carry the day. The other side, of course, is also doing the same thing. As we each poke holes into the other’s interpretation, we’ll eventually settle on an agreement that, in many ways, is shaped by whoever had the strongest facts to support their interpretation,” she explained. “We’re always searching for the win-win and the data keeps conflict and emotion out of the discussion, so we can get to the very best client outcome.”

Not surprisingly, emotion is a significant factor in many transactions. Lately, Mindy’s been devoting time to a variety of psychology podcasts to help understand ways to create bridges and common understanding during the valuation process. “You can’t even get to the financial discussions until you’ve accounted for complexities, such as family dynamics and the difficulty in parting with a business 30, 40 or more years in the making.”

 

“I love the creativity in what we do here.”

 

Mindy also noted that it’s important to understand the different personalities involved in every business negotiation. Not everyone responds to the same style – some are natural collaborators, some enjoy conflict and ‘the battle,’ and some simply want to do the whole thing over email. Coming to an agreement requires insight into the different communication styles, biases and personal drivers. “My job isn’t only about accounting, but also how well I manage people – not just spreadsheets – often can determine whether the deal gets done.”

Transactions and valuations have been a growth market for some time now as the demand and multiples for middle-market companies have skyrocketed during the past few years. Our TAS practice has not only grown to a national practice but has expanded in scope from our earlier years.

“We work on both the buy- and sell-side of transactions. Now we’re doing work for sellers before they even go to market, as they prepare their companies to get the best multiple when they eventually decide to go to market,” she said. “We’ll work with them to get a clean EBITDA, identify any speed bumps they may have in their financial profiles, and prepare them for a sale.”

Mindy applies her creative side not just to her work, but of course to her personal interests.  She’s an avid and adventurous cook in the kitchen and recently began the process of producing her own batch of kombucha.

“Kombucha is a fermented, naturally carbonated black or green tea that takes a month to fully process. You can find it at specialty stores for $3-5 a bottle, and I thought, ‘there’s no reason it should cost that much to make.’ So I made it myself because it appealed to my financial sensibilities and it helps that cooking is my #1 stress reliever.”

Mindy is one of those non-native Ohioans who has lived all over the world and found a home in Northeast Ohio.

“I was born in Germany and lived all over the United States as I grew up with both parents in the military,” she said.  “I love to hike and Northeast Ohio has awesome hiking paths, so it was easy to fall in love with the area.”

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