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Professional Insights: Christine Sawchuk

25 February 2022

CBV Institute President & CEO, Christine Sawchuk, discusses trends in business valuation and the importance of professional qualifications.

Christine Sawchuk

President & CEO, CBV Institute

Market demand for professionals accredited in business valuation is currently at an all-time high. While this is excellent news for growth in the valuation profession, particularly amongst young professionals, it may be an ongoing challenge for us and other VPOs to keep reinforcing to the market that formal valuation education and accreditation is a professional imperative, and in the public interest.

How has your career to date led you to the role you have now?

I was a Chartered Accountant (Chartered Professional Accountant) working in assurance when the field of business valuation caught my eye. Business valuation to me is a dynamic intersection of financial analysis, economics, and professional judgment, and I quickly realized the Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) designation was the perfect fit. The CBV has been the leading valuation credential here in Canada for half a century and is quite well respected in our market and beyond. I received my CBV in 2008 and spent over a decade working in public valuation practice. During this time, I started teaching courses for CBV Institute’s Program of Studies, and also volunteered for several Institute committees. It seemed like a natural progression when I joined the Institute full-time in 2014 as Director of Education to run the Program.

I have a passion for lifelong learning and in the years since I’ve completed a Master’s degree in Adult Education and recently received my Doctorate in Educational Leadership. I was appointed President & CEO of CBV Institute in October 2020. I’ve been able to draw on my background, both in academia and as a CBV, to take on the leadership role at CBV Institute. My experiences have led me to critically assess situations from multiple perspectives and lead with curiosity, which I think is really at the heart of being an effective leader.

How do you interact with business valuers/the business valuation profession in your current role, on a day-to-day basis?

I speak or correspond with CBVs every day. Hearing directly from Members about their successes, challenges, and thoughts is of immeasurable value so that we have a more informed view of where the business valuation profession is heading in Canada and around the world. While CBV Institute is based in Toronto, our CBVs and Students work and live across the globe. The voice of the CBV community was especially valuable to me this past year as we worked through the comprehensive process of creating the Institute’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan.

What have you learnt about the business valuation profession in the period since you joined the CBV Institute in 2014?

Every week I learn more about the diverse range of career options to business valuation professionals and CBVs, both in Canada and elsewhere. These include litigation support such as in family law, corporate/commercial litigation, and expropriation; income tax compliance and planning; financial reporting; financial instruments valuation; corporate finance and transaction advisory; and business advisory…the list goes on and on.

Also, over my years with the Institute I’ve had the privilege to see first-hand the passion and professionalism that our Members and Students demonstrate in their work and public engagements. It’s remarkable to see our Members’ common sense of pride in being a CBV and of being part of the business valuation profession.

In what ways have you seen the business valuation profession evolve in recent years?

The work that is being done – the businesses, business interests, and assets involved, and the contexts in which valuations are being done – is increasingly complex. This underscores the need for highly-trained professionals who have expertise in the intricacies of business valuation, like CBVs, to perform this specialized work. It also underscores the importance of continuing professional development (CPD) to maintain valuation skills and knowledge.

CBV Institute has released a three-part series of video interviews featuring CBV perspectives on the valuation of intangible assets.

More and more, the market is recognizing that professional credentials are crucial to effectively perform valuation services. Market demand for CBVs, and those working toward a CBV, is at an all-time high. It’s amazing to see the growth and I don’t see an end in sight.

Find out more about becoming a CBV

How well do you think governments and financial regulators around the world understand the profession? How do you think this level of understanding can be improved?

For countries with established business valuation professions and organizations (CBV Institute just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year), I believe there is a fundamental understanding of what we do and why. I do think more can be done to demonstrate the multi-disciplinary nature of the profession and the added value that accredited and skilled business valuation professionals bring to the table. It is also important for regulators and governments everywhere to know that we operate under the same overarching goal, with respect to protecting the public interest.

How has CBV Institute been involved in the work of the IVSC?

CBV Institute has been an active member and sponsor of the IVSC since 2008. A number of CBVs sit on IVSC boards and committees, including the Board of Trustees, the Business Valuation Board, the Financial Instruments Board, the Advisory Working Group, and the Membership and Standards Recognition Board. We also contribute to the ongoing updates by providing input as exposure drafts are issued for comment. Over the years, we have developed a close working partnership with IVSC which I feel has been beneficial for the global valuation profession. For example, we regularly collaborate on various initiatives in which the IVSC is involved, such as last year’s release of the new International Valuation Glossary – Business Valuation. CBV Institute, in conjunction with IVSC and participating valuation professional organizations (VPO’s), was on the development team which generated this extensive resource for business valuators worldwide.

I believe that VPOs individually can reap many benefits by collaborating as we do on international initiatives. We can do more together while also extending market reach. All the work we accomplish as a team then further instils public confidence in the professionalism of business valuation as a whole.

Why do you think it’s important to have an independent global standard setter for the valuation profession?

Business is global, and so is our profession. A professional in one country can (for the most part) provide valuation services anywhere in the world. As the business and the financial world become more and more connected, the ability of end users of valuation services – whether it be regulators, business owners, courts, or governments – to be able to turn to a standardized, high-quality set of principles-based standards, prepared by an independent organization, will only serve to increase confidence in the global valuation profession.

What are some of the external business/market trends that will influence and shape the work CBV’s do in the future and why?

As Canada (and the world) continues to become more knowledge-based, technology-intensive, and skills-intensive, CBVs will need be able to apply their foundational valuation knowledge and expertise to adapt to emerging and more complex valuation contexts. Informed professional judgment will become more and more important as traditional methods of valuing business interests and assets gradually become outdated for expanding business needs. It will be necessary to supplement foundational valuation principles with newer and more up-to-date valuation metrics. I am seeing and hearing about this across a breath of workplaces – boutique firms, international firms, corporations, pension funds, etc.

Another significant trend is that consumers of business valuation services (from clients, to employers, and regulators) are expressing a desire for greater transparency and disclosure.

As the business and the financial world become more and more connected, the ability of end users of valuation services – whether it be regulators, business owners, courts, or governments – to be able to turn to a standardized, high-quality set of principles-based standards, prepared by an independent organization, will only serve to increase confidence in the global valuation profession.

What are some of the big challenges facing the business valuation profession in the coming years and how do you see it evolving to meet these challenges?

A major challenge we’re following is the influx of automated valuation models. Ready access to these technologies is leading to an uptick in individuals offering valuation services to the public, some of whom we expect will be lacking in formal valuation education and training, and appropriate experience. While such technologies can be used as tools to support decision-making and communication, they cannot replace critical thought and professional analysis to achieve the most informed view for business decision-making

Another challenge is that the market demand for professionals accredited in business valuation is currently at an all-time high. While this is excellent news for growth in the valuation profession, particularly amongst young professionals, it may be an ongoing challenge for us and other VPOs to keep reinforcing to the market that formal valuation education and accreditation is a professional imperative, and in the public interest.

How well recognised and respected is the business valuation profession, and CBVs in particular, in Canada? How do you think this compares with other parts of the world?

Recognition of the business valuation profession has significantly increased in recent years. I suspect that a driver of this is that businesses and the market are increasingly taking a more forward-looking view, stimulating increased interest in value drivers and value creation. It’s put a spotlight on matters in which business valuation professionals are intimately involved, such as the valuation of intangible assets.

For CBVs in particular, the sheer breadth of the work they are undertaking globally – litigation support, income tax compliance and planning; financial reporting; private equity, corporate finance and transaction advisory; and business advisory – has elevated the level of awareness of the CBV at home and abroad. We frequently hear that Canadian employers either recommend or, more often, require job candidates to have or earn a CBV so they meet the professional standards the market expects. CBVs are unquestionably respected by individuals, organizations, governments, regulators, and other parties who have had the opportunity to work with them. I think this holds true in general for valuation designations around the world once they are established with a period of successful tenure in the market, particularly those with rigorous education and accreditation programs and ongoing CPD requirements such as ours.

What advice would you give to somebody that is thinking of starting a career as a business valuer (or as you say In Canada, a business valuator)?

I would highly, highly recommend it! This is an exciting time to be a business valuator. The profession is growing, there are plenty of employment opportunities, and you will be sought after as a highly trained and highly skilled business valuator. We are seeing this trend across a broad range of industries – accounting and valuation firms, government agencies, pension funds financial institutions, etc.

A career in business valuation will open doors to a range of professional opportunities and will set you apart in the competitive finance job market. It’s an excellent career for someone who has financial literacy and an analytical mindset, who enjoys variety and flexibility in their work, and who likes an intellectual challenge. All in all, the return on your investment of obtaining a professional business valuation designation is excellent.

What are you most looking forward to in your role for 2022?

There are many things I’m looking forward to this year! Signs are pointing to an easing of pandemic restrictions in the near future, which is very encouraging news. I’m looking forward to meeting with CBVs again in person, at workshops and our annual CBV Congress to be held in Vancouver this June. I’m also looking forward to furthering ties with other VPO’s and furthering relationships with other institutions around the world who operate in our professional ecosystem. I’m excited to enhance our synergies and help propel the profession into the future.

I’m equally excited to lead CBV Institute forward in reaching the ambitious strategic goals and objectives we have set for this year. We have a talented and high-performing Institute team who are focussed on innovation and on taking every initiative we tackle to the next level.

There are more than 170 member organisations
of the IVSC, operating in 137 countries worldwide. Join them.

Become part of a global network working to enhance valuation standards and professionalism.

There are more than 180 member organisations
of the IVSC, operating in 137 countries worldwide. Join them.

Become part of a global network working to enhance valuation standards and professionalism.