In each “Meet the Team” segment, we highlight a different professional on our Family Law team. The experience and expertise of our professionals allow us to bring a full suite of valuation and forensics services to our clients. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a bit better.
Christopher Mercer, FASA, CFA, ABAR is the Chairman of Mercer Capital. He has been working in the valuation industry for over forty years and founded Mercer Capital in 1982.
Chris Mercer: Writing and speaking has been an integral part of my personal strategy and Mercer Capital’s strategy towards growth and development. When I started Mercer Capital, I had enough exposure to successful people in a variety of fields to know that one of the ways I could differentiate myself was through writing and speaking. I enjoy the process of writing and have written consistently ever since my first article was published. Writing to me, outside of being something I enjoy, was essential to create the reputation of Mercer Capital. With the firm headquartered in Memphis, we were at a disadvantage from firms located in major markets. Mercer Capital needed to differentiate itself from these firms. All of the writing and speaking I did put me in front of a national audience beginning in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, which eventually gave Mercer Capital national exposure, and our firm has continued to grow from there.
Chris Mercer: When I got into the valuation profession, it was sort of like the Wild West. Valuators did not have a set of universal processes. When I performed my first valuation in early 1979, there were no books on business valuation. So, I went around and talked to everyone I could talk of and asked them what valuation looked like. Then, in 1981 Shannon Pratt’s first edition of Valuing a Business was published which was really the only reference book back then. I call those times the Wild West because people did not know what a marketability discount was or what a control premium was. Marketability discounts were guessed at by looking at restricted stock studies.
I tried to change that in 1997 when I wrote Quantifying Marketability Discounts and developed the Quantifying Marketability Discount Model (QMDM), and people have been having to deal with the reality of cash flow, risk, and growth since then. We at Mercer Capital have been attempting to bring an organized financial focus to the business of valuation since the late 1980s. I have seen this profession evolve in terms of information, size, and credentialing. My hope over the next five to ten years is for the profession to embrace an integrated theory. We cannot continue as a profession to do things in a non-uniform way. I think that is what will change over time, that we will become a more cohesive profession.
Chris Mercer: When I started Mercer Capital, I already knew that I liked business valuation. As for litigation, I only had one testimony experience prior to starting the firm. However, litigation was one of the main avenues to get into the valuation business. I began to testify in the local area divorce courts, as working in this market was a way for appraisers to gain experience. I also did a number of statutory fair value cases. Overall, litigation is challenging, mentally stimulating, and I find it satisfying to deal with some of the best and brightest in the country.
Chris Mercer: My advice to anyone who wants a career in valuation is to take charge of building your own reputation and then the reputation of your firm. You create a brand within the brand. We have created a structure at Mercer Capital that allows people to create their personal brand within the firm brand by focusing on industry specializations, as well as service line specialization. Some of those industry specializations are banking, insurance, asset management, oil & gas, auto dealers, and so many more.
It is also important to gain credentials and credibility. At Mercer Capital, we support the CFA designation. We currently have 19 CFAs. We are proud of that. In addition, we support the ASA designation from the American Society of Appraisers (14 ASA credential holders and one Fellow (FASA)) and the CPA, ABV, and CFF designations from the AICPA (nine ABV credential holders), in addition to others. Continuous learning is part of the Mercer Capital way of life.
Chris Mercer: Hands down, I am most proud of the fact that we sit here today as a firm with almost 50 employees, that we are employee-owned, and that we have a succession plan in place and working that assures the continuation of the firm for decades to come. We have created a firm that is providing great careers for a lot of people. I am pleased that the firm is here, and that we have created the opportunity for our employees to save, invest, and build their futures.