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Executive Q&A: Richard Muscio

Richard Muscio is a certified public accountant who assists wealthy families with estate and gift tax planning, investment due diligence and risk mitigation, family governance and business succession planning, with the goal of helping wealthy families thrive.

He also assists CPA firms with becoming “the CPA firm of the future” through his collaboration with The Lombardi Group in Carlsbad. You can view his presentations on these topics on his YouTube channel. He also hosts a weekly radio show, “It’s Your Money…and Your Life,” on KFMB. He is an author and co-founder of the Move Your Feet Before You Eat Foundation, which works to improve teen fitness.

Muscio took some time to talk about a CPA’s approach to succession planning and about himself.

Are there two or three major obstacles that usually come up in small business succession planning?

Unrealistic expectations about the typical length of the process.

Advisers who are uncoordinated — not working collaboratively — resulting in too many points of view that cause the client to reach a state of indecision, maybe even inertia.

People often associate succession planning with lawyers. What do accountants bring to the table?

The ability to function as “project manager,” thus alleviating issue No. 2 above, and the ability to articulate sale results into after-tax results and ideas about how to maximize after-tax yield.

Besides a CPA, who else should be on a business succession planning team?

A business valuation-risk mitigation expert is by far and away the most important resource.

Are there common mistakes that you see being made in succession planning?

Yes three of them: no effective use of governance — project management; bringing the business valuation-risk mitigation expert into the equation too late; the seller not having a clear idea of how he or she plans to spend their time post-succession.

Where do employees fit in the succession planning?

They are a possible source for acquisition of the company [through an] employee stock ownership plan.

They are frequently omitted from the legacy plan (i.e. keeping the team together). Many sellers do not consider this issue as a deal point.

Is a rigid timetable a must in the succession process?

No, not a rigid one, because risk mitigation can yield unexpected issues that must be explored. However, a general time framework is advisable, and certain administrative tasks can be set to a rigid deadline approach.

Where does your interest in sports come from?

I learned very young in life that sports challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally. And there is really no other activity that does so.

Why do you encourage others to get involved in athletics (running)?

Being healthy is the most important aspect of wealth — however you choose to define wealth.

If one is not healthy, it is virtually impossible to reach one’s own potential and to contribute in a meaningful way back to one’s community.

When it’s raining, do you run anyway?

No!!!!!!

You’re a CPA, a writer, a radio personality and filmmaker. Do these pursuits express different sides of you or are they all related?

They are all related. They all deal with understanding what constitutes true wealth: meaningful relationships, making a significant contribution to one’s community, attempting to leave a legacy.

Did you lose your eyesight for a time? How did you deal with the fear that must have come with the loss?

Yes. Blind from October 2001 to February 2002 before regaining partial sight.

I trusted that the vision loss happened because the universe wanted me to learn new things that I could someday articulate and use to help others. I also followed doctors’ and surgeons’ orders to the letter.

You seem to have a full plate. Do you have any time-management secrets?

Don’t have a “to do” list. Rather, have a “don’t do” list and delegate absolutely everything that is not the highest and best use of your time.

As a CPA you deal with wealth. What is the greatest “asset” in your life?

Time. I am very focused on running my business using the above maxim, so it does not end up running me.

Not including your own books, what is your favorite?

You mean there are other books? “Goodbye Columbus” by Philip Roth for fiction, “Pressure is a Privilege” by Billie Jean King for nonfiction and “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn for sports.

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