It’s a question I get asked almost everyday.
What do advisors who manage $2 billion, $500 million and $100 million in client assets have in common? From those I meet, a lot of things—like integrity, objectivity and a fiduciary mindset that directs their service model. There’s also a strong focus on creating a sustainable, growth-oriented business with real enterprise value. Yet at the end of the day, nothing can have a greater impact on your business more than making sure that you are in the right place to service your clients and grow your business with the greatest potential.
So how does an advisor go about the due diligence process of comparing and contrasting where he’s at to what’s out there? Does he go it alone or does he use a recruiter? (Forgive me if this message comes across at all self-serving, but truth be told, I am asked this question often: “Why use a recruiter?”)
From where I sit, a recruiter’s role is to act as guide and advocate in order to:
- Educate by offering access to information and solutions not always readily available or obvious.
- Distill an expanded and ever-changing industry landscape, curating and customizing an appropriate list of solutions and opportunities.
- Streamline and objectify what can be a dizzying process.
- Negotiate and ask for things in a deal that most advisors, and even managers, would never know to ask for.
- And most importantly: Share industry knowledge with competence and confidentiality; act as sounding board and trusted partner.
Recruiters in this industry work on a contingency basis at no cost to the advisors they represent. So, if a good recruiter can do all of the above, why would someone opt not to avail himself of the service?
The answer is simple: Some people are just more comfortable doing “it” themselves—whatever “it” is. They like to book their own vacations without a travel agent, peruse a store without a salesperson to show them around, and find the best restaurant and sites to see without the help of a hotel concierge. These folks likely take pleasure in doing their own research and having complete control over the outcome. And, when it comes to the decision of “stay vs. go”, they don’t trust anyone to represent their interests as well as they could themselves.
In contrast, there are many advisors who feel that their time is best spent focusing on their core competencies—nurturing client relationships, prospecting for new business and investment management. They do not want to be distracted from any of these things in order to figure out what firms to talk to or who to meet at those firms, and they believe that it is best to let someone else –a knowledgeable and skilled expert – shepherd them through what can be a time consuming and overwhelming process. They would choose turnkey over do-it-yourself any day of the week. And the potential value add of working with a recruiter is far greater than the alternative. Aligning with a recruiter who has their best interest at heart allows them the ability to move forward in the most efficient and strategic way possible, limiting their time spent exploring and making decisions.
The truth is that there is never just one way to skin the proverbial cat—and thus no single right way to do due diligence.
The good news is that advisors are in the driver’s seat as this is a seller’s market. And no matter whether you call the restaurant yourself or let the hotel concierge handle it, you’re likely to have a good meal.
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