Many business owners and financial executives want to ensure they can rely on an independent ‘trusted’ financing advisor when it comes to their business finances. How does one pick such an advisor? Naturally in today’s environment business owners don’t have time to waste, and if they have financial or growth challenges they are looking for someone that can bring expertise and solutions to their business.
We are constantly told that business owners are looking for a firm they can trust, respect, and has, of course, credentials.
We believe this whole area of developing a trust between the advisor and the company is a two way street. It is incumbent on the business owner to make sure the goals and needs of the company are made very clear. Business owners or financial managers should not blur the issues to the point that each party does not understand the goals and the respective roles.
When a trusted financing advisor is chosen he or she needs to be given access to the reins and information on the business and its challenges.
Business owners need to ensure that the specialist firm they are dealing with has experience either with the challenges they are facing, or the particular industry the customer is in. Many business financing challenges are industry specific, so this is not the time to be training and advisor on your business! Most people realize though that many financing challenges are somewhat generic in nature, so although an industry expertise is often helpful, it is clearly not always 100% required.
The business owner and financing advisor need to be able to have effective dialogue and communication on what the operational and financing issues are. Many times there are what we call ‘ warning signs ‘, yet in other cases companies are already clearly in trouble.
A financing advisor needs to be given information and clarification on issues related to:
- Currenet lenders
- Working capital issues
- Asset issues
- Future goals of the company
Naturally the above list is hardly all inclusive, but it is a solid start to the dialogue. The business absolutely has to have a handle on what the intermediate term goals are. Management needs to have a strong sense that the business advisor can assist in the recovery, and the advisor must be given the tools that he or she needs.
Both the business owner and advisor should have frank discussions around the probabilities of success and the timelines associated with that success. What’s realistic, what isn’t.
Business owners and financial executives should clearly check the background and experience of the advisor. References are of course highly recommended. Professional affiliations are of course important, but not critical. References from lawyers, bankers, and accountants are often excellent sources of information. The business advisor should clearly be indicating they have the right attitude and credentials around the business owners financing needs. It is certainly not unrealistic to have solid discussions around timelines and action items responsibility.
Ultimately business is of course people, so chemistry is important, and the business owner should have a sense they could work with the financing advisor. However, at the end of the day you don’t have to like people to get the job done ( it certainly helps though!). Credibility and experience are ultimately always at the top of the list.
All engagements should of course be documented properly re success, work fees, etc. A credible business financing advisor will of course be willing to sign any required non-disclosure document.
In summary, a trusted business financing advisor is a valuable ‘ out of the company ‘ asset to any firm. Business owners and financial mangers should choose such an advisor carefully, and pay important attention to the qualities and capabilities that advisor can bring to the table, and ultimately, the firms success.