Jeannette Boulanger
Manager | CPA, CA, M. Sc. | Human resources consulting

Are you planning to transfer your business to a promising successor? Take the time to do it right, step by step, with a structured and integrated approach.

Quebec’s economy relies on a large number of SMEs. The numbers say it all: Quebec is home to nearly 240,000 businesses with less than 99 employees and another 4,300 with 100 to 499 employees. Combined, these companies account for more than 87% of all jobs in the province.

The pandemic has had serious repercussions on the economy. Uncertainty and anxiety have cast a shadow over many businesses. For a lot of entrepreneurs, the health crisis has prompted hard questions on both professional and personal matters. Work-life balance, personal success, relationships, health and wellbeing have emerged as important values.

Not to mention the fact that 35% of Quebec entrepreneurs are 55 or over, and the average business owner is 49. At this stage of a person’s working years, it’s only natural to start thinking about what comes next.

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Successfully transferring a business takes time—and a plan

It’s important to take a structured and integrated approach to the entire transition process. Economic statistics show that business ownership changes fail 70% of the time in Quebec and across Canada. Moreover, just 10% of business owners have a successor in mind.

An entrepreneurial succession professional can help you make the right decisions. Their role is to anticipate potential problems, facilitate communication between all parties and help stakeholders make smart business decisions.

There are different types of ownership transfers. It’s up to you to decide which one works best for your business, employees and customers.

Ownership transfers should be gradual and involve 2 to 8 years of preparation.

Your options include:

  • Transfer to a family member;
  • Transfer to a company manager, employee or even the board of directors;
  • Sell to a third party.

A company’s spirit is defined by the people behind it. Creating a business succession plan is like planning a road trip: you need to decide where to stop along the way in order to ensure a smooth journey to your destination. The itinerary should include pausing to consider various legal, financial, tax, strategy and human considerations.

A people-focused process

Human resources professionals can help sellers and buyers with their respective tasks in order to protect the company’s long-term viability. We recommend an eight-step process involving different stakeholders:

  1. Hold an initial meeting with the outgoing owner in order to gain an understanding of the business context, assess their expectations for the ownership transfer, and discuss prospective projects.
  2. Meet with all involved stakeholders to review the next steps.
  3. Conduct one-on-one meetings with each potential buyer to assess their interests and intentions.
  4. Carry out psychometric evaluations for each potential buyer as well as the seller if he or she plans to stay involved in the company.
  5. Review the test results with each respondent and hold a group meeting to share the findings while also encouraging effective communication and a culture of sharing between all parties.
  6. Develop a plan for onboarding the buyer(s) based on their strengths and interests, and discuss their roles and responsibilities to ensure a smooth transition.
  7. Present the report to the seller and discuss each party’s new roles and responsibilities.
  8. Provide management support and coaching to ensure the transition process is aligned with the business’s objectives, as well as those of the seller and buyers.

Each step in the process is important and gives you the opportunity to determine whether the buyer is a good fit for the company’s needs. Finding the right match is crucial for the transfer’s success. After all, just because someone wants to make it work, doesn’t mean they can. Running a business is challenging and prospective owners require certain skills, including those listed below.

Work management skills

  • Results-oriented;
  • Initiative and action-oriented.

Interpersonal skills

  • Persuasive;
  • Strong networking abilities;
  • Effective communicator.

Leadership skills

  • Strategic vision;
  • Managerial courage;
  • Gets the job done.


  • Stress management and emotional control;
  • Independent;
  • Persevering;
  • Humble.

There are various skills assessment tools available on the market, including personality tests, cognitive ability tests, in-basket tests, structured interviews, and more.

Working with a human resources advisor can help you gain a better understanding of a person’s strengths and weaknesses, and allow you to compare their profile against the company’s needs and values. This can help prevent problems down the road, while also ensuring a smoother transition for the new business owner. All of these factors are important for a successful business ownership transfer.

Interested in talking to someone about your situation? Contact us to find out more about our personalized business ownership transfer services. Our multidisciplinary team can offer the solutions you need.

This article was written in collaboration with Marie-Eve Authier, Human Resources Advisor.

17 Sep 2020  |  Written by :

Jeannette Boulanger is a Human Resources Consulting expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. Contact...

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Philippe Marceau
Manager | CRHA | Human resources consulting

The work world is in the midst of a transformation. What was true yesterday may no longer apply today. Employers, how do you set yourselves apart?

Long before the pandemic, recruiting and retaining skilled resources was one of the biggest concerns of organizations. In fact, in a Léger survey conducted in April 2019 on behalf of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, more than 60% of small- and medium-size business leaders said that labour issues were the biggest challenge for the next three years.

Fall 2020: The labour market landscape has changed significantly as a result of the pandemic. While there is a better balance between supply and demand in certain industries, including sales, human resources, engineering, and marketing and communications, the issue is still as important in others.

While the lack of skilled resources was already a problem before the pandemic, there is a marked need in the following areas:

  • Accounting and finance (technician, analyst, assistant controller, controller, manager);
  • Information technology;
  • Health and social services;
  • Skilled trades (manufacturing and construction industry).

Listening to employees’ needs

Having only just emerged from the crisis, organizations actively seeking resources must now deal with a new reality where the requirements of potential candidates have evolved.

The reality for workers in the manufacturing and retail industries has changed mainly due to the implementation of health and safety measures for employees, but the scenario is entirely different for clerical and professional workers.

According to the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés, 67.1% of employees were working remotely last June. There is no indication that this trend is slowing down: telework is here to stay for a large majority of professionals.

Not so long ago, telework was on the list of benefits that some employers were willing to offer to those who requested it. So how can you stand out as an employer if telework has become a way of life?

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The watchword: listen to the needs of professional workers and adapt to their new requirements. The work world has undergone a transformation in recent months, and priorities are no longer necessarily the same for everyone. As an employer, ask yourself about your level of attraction and differentiation based on the following:


Some employees enjoy teleworking while others find it stressful. The trend to telework is still prevalent, but in the longer term the situation will be more of a 25-25-50 split, with 25% of employees teleworking full time, 25% in the office, and 50% in a hybrid arrangement with a mix of working remotely and in the office;


Managers, watch out for repeated interruptions and micromanagement. Know how to trust your employees. It can be tempting to ensure that your employees who work from home are actually working by providing multiple directive communications, but these can quickly become very irritating and a source of frustration;


A work environment and corporate culture based on accountability foster employee engagement and, therefore, results. Create a work climate that is based on performance or achievement of goals, not on “how”. Focus on the achievement of goals rather than physical presence in the office or number of hours “online”;

Employer brand and employee experience

Consistency between employee and organizational values can make a difference, especially in the wake of major upheavals. Individual priorities have changed. What about the organization’s? Is work-family balance a core value that you believe in?


The Baby Boomer, X, Y, and Z generations are all in the workplace together – can you provide a stimulating environment where everyone can achieve their potential without penalizing others? Teaming up with employees from different generations can be very rewarding, but it can also be challenging – employees at the end of their careers and new recruits don’t have the same needs;

Professional growth

Human nature being what it is, when boredom sets in, people look for ways to remedy it… like changing jobs. Opportunities for advancement within an organization can therefore be a decisive factor. Knowing how to recognize a candidate’s or employee’s potential can generate opportunities and, as a result, help you retain your resources, in addition to motivating them to evolve professionally;

Overall remuneration and benefits

Salary, benefits and other conditions certainly remain key factors to be considered overall. Some people are willing to accept a lower salary if they find the hours or other benefits more suitable. Being sensitive to expectations can lead to win-win solutions for everyone.

Better work-life balance, alternative working hours, integration of technologies, redesigned processes and, of course, new health measures are just a few examples of the changes brought about by the pandemic. As an employer, you cannot ignore this new normal. To retain your recruiting competitive advantage, you must focus on employee needs first, rather than those traditionally defined by the organization.

A crisis can lead an organization to question its organizational culture, rethink certain policies that are no longer in line with the new reality and re-evaluate the organizational ecosystem.

Would you like to find out more? Contact us for more information about our personalized recruiting services. Our multidisciplinary team is ready to provide you with the solutions you are looking for.

This article was written in collaboration with Huguette Boulanger.

17 Sep 2020  |  Written by :

Philippe Marceau is a Human resources expert at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.

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To support businesses in this new normal, the financial industry has had to change its ways. Interview with Nadine Renaud-Tinker.

The financial sectors are among the industries that have shown considerable agility since the beginning of the pandemic, including RBC Quebec Headquarters, which quickly placed its entire team in full solution mode to support businesses and individuals.

Nadine Renaud-Tinker, President, Quebec Headquarters of Canada’s leading bank shared her observations and advice with Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s President and CEO, Emilio B. Imbriglio, on September 3, 2020 as part of the One-on-One series.

From emergency response mode to a one-on-one approach

“This was not an easy year for our entrepreneurs or any organization,” Renaud-Tinker stated at the start of the interview. “A health crisis, which led to an economic and financial health crisis […]. We’ve never seen anything like it in 150 years at the RBC. The challenge now is to begin Phase 2, the recovery phase, and prepare for the future, even if uncertainty remains.”

Transparency, communication and empathy are an integral part of her team’s customer relationship.

She said, “I work extensively with our leaders and teams to ensure we continue the conversations with our clients. For the first few months, we were in emergency mode and in business solutions mode […] We put government measures and moratoriums in place very quickly. We acted promptly for our clients and our employees, without really asking any questions.”

Renaud-Tinker added that the first phase involved generating cash to support customers, entrepreneurs and individuals and that RBC is working differently in the second phase.

“It’s a balancing act for companies and individuals alike. Rather than automatically continuing moratoriums, it’s more of a case-by-case approach.” Moratoriums are not always the best answer because they lead to customer debt. “We granted over $27M in payment deferrals in recent months. That’s huge and we’ve never done that before,” she added.

She went on to say that their teams “must now focus on each customer’s situation to create the appropriate structure. The bank is therefore working on one-on-one solutions. […] Nobody wants to lose companies. We want to find solutions together with our customers.” Patience, empathy and proactiveness are tendencies that will remain.

Slow economic recovery

Renaud-Tinker indicates that, according to its economists, the economic recovery may take two to three years for sectors such as hotels, travel, restaurants, culture, arts and aviation, and emphasizes the need for more industry-specific measures in these cases. The challenge is to get through the next two to three years and then survive. As in all industries, “we all have to reinvent ourselves”.

Could the role of financial institutions be redefined?

Referring to the government’s interventionist role, which will not disappear in the near future, Imbriglio asked whether the role of the banks could be expected to evolve, going beyond that of lender to that of owner, for example. In Renaud-Tinker’s view, this change is not for the foreseeable future, although the world is changing rapidly.

“We are large organizations with our capital markets, insurance, wealth management […] Our strength comes from the fact that we have a wide variety of solutions and advice. The bank’s overall performance is exceptional. We are already investing in Quebec businesses and will continue to do so.”

RBC in Québec versus the rest of Canada

Speaking about the bank’s differences in Quebec compared to the rest of Canada, the Quebec executive responds that RBC in Quebec has an opportunity to continue to grow, ranking third in market share with the strength of 7,000 employees, while in the rest of Canada, the institution has by far been the leader in terms of market shares.

“A significant portion of the head office remained in Quebec. Whether it be operations, mutual funds, risk, fraud, the Visa center, our call center in Montreal which serves all of Canada… We have a national office with a good team.” She adds that they are much more involved in local decision-making.

The President also indicated that all RBC branches are currently open and, on average, 50% of the workforce is working on site, while all other employees are teleworking in order to maintain distance.

Some advice for entrepreneurs

Our President and CEO asked Renaud-Tinker if she had any advice for entrepreneurs. “To continue to be creative and resilient. Businesses here have shown so much courage. We were expecting much worse in the first six months and it’s thanks to Québec entrepreneurs who made the right decisions quickly that we’re here today. Innovate, constantly adjust and stay close to your people – because without our employees, we have no customers and we have no business.”

As for the relationship between entrepreneurs and their bank, Renaud-Tinker advised “Don’t forget to ask for help and share information […] Be transparent. We are partners with our customers. The more we know about your situation, the more we will be able to build a strategy or a structure that will help you.”

Renaud-Tinker also stresses the importance of preparing projections based on what entrepreneurs know (suppliers, contracts, etc.). “Without a projection or a plan that is adapted and adjusted to the present or the future, it is difficult for us to build a structure that will work going forward.”

View this very dynamic exchange in our online video.

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The health sector is not immune to phishing attempts. To prevent cyber attacks, it is essential to be well prepared.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in the number of phishing campaigns, ransomware attacks and social engineering.

Indeed, malicious actors are taking advantage of the vulnerability of certain clinics and practices because nonclinical health care professionals such as financial, administrative, healthcare IT teams are working from home, some without any cybersecurity controls in place.

These cyber vulnerabilities are resulting in even more weaknesses in the healthcare system, patient support systems and the protection of patient information.

This is why hospitals, treatment clinics, care homes and medical laboratories must, in their new normality, plan, prepare and be extremely careful when it comes to their cybersecurity.

Healthcare Industry Threats

With the evolution of medical equipments, which now depends more on your network infrastructure (IoT), cybersecurity enables patient safety and care by preserving the accuracy of the patient data, while still protecting patient confidentiality and privacy. Cyber criminals may take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis, using the increased pressure being placed on health organizations to extract ransom payments or mask other compromise.

Consequently, a cyber attack that makes patient data inaccessible to clinicians, or disables medical devices, could be very damaging to the healthcare industry and, more importantly, to the patients’ health.

Breach costs in the Healthcare Industry

Unlike most industries, the cost of breach in the health care sector is highly sensitive given the nature of the data and is evidence by having the highest cost of breach for the 9th consecutive year, or nearly $ 6.5 million on average, a percentage of over 60% higher than that of other sectors.

The Top Risks in the Heathcare Industry

Cybersecurity Risk

Due to the abrupt nature of the COVID-19 crisis, some organizations, large or small, lack the infrastructure, technology, or policies to ensure endpoints and data are secure outside of the corporate environment. e.g., data loss prevention is not in place, existing infrastructure does not allow security policies/controls to be applied to endpoints not connected to the network, and no secure way to connect remotely.

1. Data Loss

As more people are being forced to work remotely, organizations need to ensure their data is safe and used appropriately. More employees are moving files via a removable store, cloud stage, and emails (corporate/personal) so they can continue to be productive. Without adequate tools and controls like email encryption and data loss prevention (DLP), organizations run the risk of the data being compromised intentionally or unintentionally.


More employees are relying on employees to work on their personal laptops or devices, which may result in the compromise of company data or network as appropriate security such as advanced antivirus solutions may not be in place. Employees need to ensure proper control is in place to protect the data, and policies should be created to provide directives on accessing corporate data and systems.

3. Inadequate Network Monitoring

Having the right visibility to what’s happening on the network is key to being able to prevent, detect, and respond to security incidents. Due to the unforeseen and rapid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasis placed on getting the business up and running, organizations that did put security monitoring in place are at risk of having undetected security events.

Privacy Risk

With the COVID-19 crisis, employees (prepared or not) are required to utilize video/audio conferencing solutions. Data (confidential, sensitive, or regulated like PIPEDA/HIPPA) are being shared unprotected/unencrypted mostly via email.

Business Risk

Being able to recover from a disaster is critical for a company survivor. Lack of preparedness, inadequate backup, untested DR, and not having a business continuity plan could have a lasting impact if a cyber event compromises organizations. Unfortunately, since a lot of organizations did not foresee and plan for COVID-19 and its impact, they are incredibly vulnerable.

Reduce and Mitigate your Risk

Your organization can quickly benefit from integrated cybersecurity solutions to minimize the negative impacts of the coronavirus situation:

  • 24/7 monitoring and antivirus/antimalware protection of your workstations and servers as well as temporary workstations used by remote employees;
  • Sophisticated email security with artificial intelligence emails to detect URLs and malicious attachments, and block phishing and social engineering, including identity theft, which is growing exponentially;
  • Email encryption tools to secure, exchange and protect sensitive and confidential information with employees and third parties;
  • Interactive and customizable information security awareness platform to educate your employees and ensuring employees are paying heightened attention to phishing attempts, and social engineering and are able to easily identify and report on it;
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) solution with machine learning capabilities to protect your critical, sensitive and regulated data anytime, anywhere, any device;
  • Security Advisory (CISO) to help provide strategic guidance, best practices, and security policies and threat intelligence.

Protect your most valuable assets with the help of our dedicated experts

Contact our team today.

In addition, if you have been victim of a security incident, we invite you to immediately call the VARS emergency service at 514-949-6876 or 514-941-7829. We can help you now.