In 2014, valuation professionals responding to an American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) survey identified a 30% rise in demand for fair value for financial reporting. Specifically, the survey highlighted both fair value and intangible assets as emerging issues. This comes as no surprise given an increasingly global market rife with corporate acquisitions beyond borders. Also reported was an increase in the prevalence of complex assets such as intellectual properties, whose values cannot be calculated with complete objectivity. The growing demand for fair value – coupled with the subjectivity of valuing entities and intangibles – carry with them an obligation for the profession to protect the public interest by lending clarity, consistency and transparency to fair value practices.
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The headlines announcing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce were just the latest in a slew of stories about celebrity splits. In fact, there are more than 800,000 divorces and annulments in the United States each year, according to government statistics. Based on my experience performing valuations in many high-profile divorces, much of the advice I’d offer to my fellow practitioners applies whether you’re working with Brad and Angelina or the divorcing, high-powered owner of a local business. Below are my top tips:
- Determine what’s at stake and how location matters. The assets in a divorce will typically include cash, retirement funds or a home. Often, the largest asset at stake is a closely held business. That can be a professional practice – if one or both partners are, say, a lawyer, physician or accountant – or an operating entity, such as a retailer, wholesaler, manufacturing business or a farm. The complexity of the engagement can be affected by the jurisdiction in which the case is being heard and can depend on state law. Be prepared, as the legal environment may produce unexpected complexities.
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