Roderic Rennison: How to get the best from professional connections
As a merger and acquisition consultant, one area I regularly reflect on is the way in which we are selected, alongside other professionals such as solicitors and accountants, and then how we are used as transactions proceed.
Sometimes, the outcome is not what was initially envisaged or intended. What follows are what I consider to be the most important aspects to get right based on what I have seen go wrong.
1. Decide what you need before you engage
I encourage all advisers to set out what they are seeking to achieve and why. The level of support needed will be dependent on the type and complexity of the planned transaction, and the level of knowledge already possessed within the firm.
Professionals are bound by confidentiality and you will not be judged negatively
Most will not have extensive experience of business sales or in-house legal and tax resource, so these areas of specialism will need to be externally resourced.
2. Be open in your dealings
To get the best from professional connections, you need to provide complete and accurate information. No firm is likely to be perfect in how it has managed its business along the way, and there may be areas such as defined benefit transfers that pose a potential issue.
Professionals are bound by confidentiality and you will not be judged negatively. They want to help but can only be effective based on knowing all the relevant facts.
3. Select objectively
Other professionals should welcome rigorous questioning from advisers to obtain the information they need before selecting them. It is important to have a level playing field, so the selection is based on merit and value for money; not just on existing friendships and cost.
4. Be realistic in your expectations
Experienced professionals with specific expertise in your market are likely to achieve the best results but a good professional will tell you what is and isn’t likely to be possible and why.
If you cannot meet a deadline, let your connections know
Sometimes, what you hear from a professional may be disappointing but it should be backed up with facts, logic and reason – and, importantly, how best to address the particular issue. A good professional will tell you what you need to hear, not only what you want to.
5. Do not be afraid to ask questions
Professional connections can often provide technical information which is not entirely clear. If in doubt, ask for clarification. If other professionals have not explained something clearly, that is their failing, not yours.
6. Be considerate
We work hard to achieve desired outcomes but sometimes they will not always be available instantly. On other occasions, we will need information to meet deadlines from acquirers. If you cannot provide a particular piece of information, or meet a deadline, let your connections know so they can find an alternative solution.
7. Communicate clearly and consistently
Make sure you communicate what you know, hear and receive to those working with you. Don’t assume they know because you do. If in any doubt, pass on information or seek confirmation of receipt. Duplication is better than omission.
Professionals can help ensure a transaction happens successfully but it needs to be partnership to achieve the best results.
Roderic Rennison is a founder and partner of Catalyst Partners