Over the past 18 months, many businesses have experienced financial stress. This may be due to COVID-related slow-downs or shut-downs, supply chain disruptions, or even from tremendous growth. If you have found yourself in this position, you may have been urged to or required to get some help and may have been provided a list of names to call. But how will you know who to choose? By cost? By personality? What qualities do you look for? It can be difficult to know what you need if you have never been in this situation before and the stakes are high.
Choosing the wrong advisor will cost time and money that you may not have. Choosing the right advisor will provide significant assistance in navigating related challenges, help create incremental value, and may even save your business.
The 5 Qualities
A good financial advisor devises strategies to maximize the value of a company and proactively communicates a clear strategy and its benefits to each stakeholder. This will minimize unnecessary conflicts, which erode value through the consumption of time and money that could otherwise be allocated to value-creating activities. Ask potential advisors how they work with other stakeholders such as vendors, customers, employees, and lenders/investors. Try to determine the advisor’s experience and likely credibility with each of these stakeholders. See if their approach aligns with your values.
Navigating financial challenges involves more than financial models and analysis. A financial advisory firm should possess a breadth of business competencies and experience successfully guiding the business through the specific challenges you are experiencing. Ask potential advisors about their experience with situations such as your own. Ask for references. Also, a financial advisor who has a team with real-world experience allows them to empathize with your challenges as they assist in developing and executing the best path forward. So, make sure you ask about the experience of the people who will work on your project.
Speaking of team, it is important to make sure your advisor has the capacity to support your business in the time frame you need them to. Make sure you clearly articulate what your expectations are and ask them to provide you a scope of work and timeline in writing. Ask the potential advisor how they would support you if the timeline needed to be accelerated or the scope expanded. Ask them if any additional resources would be brought in that were not part of the advisory firm’s normal staff.
Ability to Listen and Understand
Your financial advisor’s ability to listen and understand rather than talk over you with a lot of material is important. Their ego should be left at the door. They should be willing to listen to the issues you are facing and then develop a comprehensive plan to address these issues. Does the financial advisor ask probing questions and listen to your answers? Does the advisor speak in a language that is easy to understand and relate to?
Seeing the Bigger Picture
You need a financial advisor who can understand and frame the issues within your broader operations and mission. What other issues are there? What sub-issues exist? What are the goals? How will issues impact other stakeholders? Are the recommended solutions an approach that is sensitive to all stakeholders? Don’t win the battle – win the war. Make sure your advisor is asking questions that show they are focused on the overall business success and not just solving the immediate issue.
Choosing the right financial advisor can be intimidating and overwhelming but remember the five topics described in this article when you meet with potential advisors. This can help you select an advisor who will best represent your interests in a way that is aligned with your core values.
All leaders experience performance challenges at some point over the life of their business. You are not alone. We can help. At DWH, we’re here for you. Feel free to reach out for a conversation on how we can be of assistance as you focus on thriving and not just surviving.