When it comes to selling your company, or divesting an important business, or raising capital and facing significant dilution, you need to get it right. The advisers you hire matter. Setting and managing expectations often makes the difference between success and failure.
Instead of assuming a firm’s brand name or large balance sheet means a safe pair of hands, you want to know who you are dealing with, so you might want to ask the following questions…..and then check them again with the adviser(s) you hire every 30 days during the process:
1) Exactly who from your firm will be working on our deal/project?
2) How much time will you personally spend with us? How will you spend it – meetings? calls? Skype?
3) Will you personally be available for calls late nights / early mornings? weekends?
4) What experience do you and your team have in my industry?
5) Will you update us on a regular basis? How and when? What will the work output look like?
6) How can I be sure you will deliver?
7) How do you earn your fee? How do you justify it?
8) Will we be in a safe pair of hands? Why? / Why not?
9) What do I get with you and your firm that I don’t get with ___ or ___?
10) What relationship(s) do you have with ____ and ___? Do you personally have those relationships, or do your partners (who I probably will never meet) have those relationships that you have to depend on?
11) How are you going to make this easy for me?
12) When will I become a happy client of yours? What needs to happen?
13) How many deals have you done like mine?
14) How long will all this take?
15) What have you learned from your other clients / deals that are similar to me / my deal?
16) What do you personally do to make things happen?
17) How do you give us bad news? Early and often?
18) What would these 3 clients of yours say about you? Why?
19) Will any / how many juniors will support you? Why? / Why not?
20) Why will you care about us when you have bigger “more important” clients?
21) What feedback will you give us on us as a client? How will you give it?
22) Will you share your “internal” views on our industry with us?
23) What happens when things go wrong? How do you manage damage control?
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask these questions. If you can be disciplined enough to ask these questions of your financial adviser candidates before you hire them, then not only will you have a very good idea of what you are buying into, but you will also have created transparency, established the expectations for the working relationship going forward and you will be much better able to manage your adviser and their expectations throughout the process.