What Professional Standards Apply to Business Valuations?

A common question posed to business valuation experts who testify in court is: “Did you follow business valuation and appraisal standards in performing your engagement?” The answer is likely to be: “Which ones?” There are a number of different standards that cover business appraisal practice.

The USPAP Standards Require Appraisers to:

1. Understand and correctly employ recognized methods.
   2. Not commit substantial errors.
   3. Not be careless or negligent.
   4. Identify the:

– Client and intended users.
– Purpose of the appraisal.
– Standard of value.
– Effective date of the appraisal.
– Business interest being valued.
– Scope of work necessary.
– Assumptions or hypothetical conditions.

   5. Consider liquidation value.
   6. Use all relevant appraisal approaches.
   7. Analyze the:

– Nature and history of the business.
– Financial and economic conditions.
– Past, present and future operations and results.
– Past sales of ownership interests.
– Sales of similar businesses (public and private).
– Prices, terms and conditions of past sales.
– Economic benefit of intangible assets.
   8. Reconcile various approaches to arrive at a value conclusion

One of the most widely recognized standards is the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). These standards, published by the Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation, were created in response to the Savings and Loan crisis and emphasize the appraisal of real estate. But they also cover the appraisal of personal property and businesses.

Many government agencies, professional groups, and client groups in North America have adopted USPAP. In addition, business appraisers who have the ASA (Accredited Senior Appraiser) or AM (Accredited Member) designations are required to follow them.

USPAP requires all appraisers to follow their Ethics and Competency Rules. The Ethics Rule covers conduct, management, confidentiality, and recordkeeping. The Competency Rule requires that the appraiser have knowledge and experience to complete the assignment competently.

There are different standards required of CPAs who are members of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). For engagements accepted on or after January 1, 2008, a new professional standard became effective. The Statement on Standards for Valuation Services No. 1 (SSVS No. 1) applies to AICPA members who perform an engagement that estimates the value of a business, business interest, security, or intangible asset for numerous purposes. They include:

– Sales transactions;
– Financing;
– Taxation;
– Financial reporting;
– Mergers and acquisitions;
– Management, financial planning;and Litigation.

After several years of research, the AICPA issued the standard for several reasons. An increasing number of CPAs are offering valuation services. Valuing intangible assets has become more important. The business community and individuals have become more interested in the process as evidenced by the attention focused on valuation by Congress, government agencies and accounting regulators.”The standard promotes greater transparency and provides our members with a set of guidelines in the unique context of a CPA practice,” according to the AICPA president.

More Standards

Certified Valuation Analysts (CVAs) must follow the Professional Standards of the National Association Of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). The NACVA standards combine elements of USPAP and AICPA standards, and add guidelines for financial statement adjustments, capitalization/discount rates, and premiums and discounts.

A valuation or appraisal report should clearly state which standards were followed. In many cases, more than one set of standards is identified. That may be confusing, but it’s acceptable because the various standards generally compliment each other.

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