World Class Mergers & Acquisitions  |  For Companies $5 Million to $100 Million in Revenue

What Do The Various Professional Desginations Mean?

Many professional M&A advisors display one or more professional designations behind their name, or in their signature block, in addition to the abbreviations for the college degrees they may have earned.  While some college degrees are familiar to many business owners and potential business buyers, they have no idea what most professional designations mean.

COLLEGE DEGREES: The common college degrees are: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).  These are frequently followed by one of more letters to indicate the specific field of study.  In my own case, I hold a BSEE, which is a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

Other degrees frequently held by professional M&A advisors include a BA in Business, or Accounting, a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).  One of my associates, Marty Adams, has a Juris Doctor, which is the first professional degree in Law.  Another colleague, Mark Fitzgerald, holds a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship (MSE), which is on a par with an MBA, with a more quantitative and entrepreneurial focus.  In my own case again, I hold a Master of Science in Industrial Administration, which is akin to an MBA with a more quantitative and technical focus.

PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATIONS/ CREDENTIALS: There are several professional development programs which are specifically geared to training someone to become a professional business intermediary.  The more common ones are Certified Business Intermediary (CBI), Merger & Acquisition Master Intermediary (M&AMI), and Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA).  Each of these requires a minimum of one to three weeks of intensive classroom education, followed by passing a comprehensive, written examination lasting three to four hours.  There are also continuing education requirement to maintain any of these credentials.

There are many more professional designations for those who specialize in performing business and/or equipment appraisals.  These include: Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA), Accredited Valuation Analyst (AVA), Certified Business Appraiser (CBA), Certified Senior Business Analyst (CSBA), Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), Certified Machinery & Equipment Appraiser (CMEA), Accredited in Business Appraisal Review (ABAR), Business Valuator Accredited in Litigation (BVAL), and Master Certified Business Appraiser (MCBA).  Many business appraisers also hold a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation.  Each of these has its own education, exam, and continuing education requirements.  In addition, each granting authority has its own standards of professional practice, which holders must abide by.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s a great diversity of academic and professional training available for business intermediaries and M&A advisors, so why not work with someone who’s invested in their own professional development to assist you with one of the largest financial transactions of your working life?

If you know of a business owner who’s thinking of selling or buying a business and who might benefit from a complimentary, confidential, consultation with us, have them contact me at

By: Mike Ertel, Transworld M&A Advisors