In the course of providing consulting to clients over the decades it has become apparent that we have advised our clients to get over the need for independence, and seek help from trusted advisors such as veterinarians, lenders, agronomists, lawyers, consultants and other ag professionals. The business of agriculture has become so complex that no one person can maintain adequate knowledge in all essential areas of the industry. In a great little book entitled How to Choose and Use Advisors: Getting the Best Professional Family Business Advice by Craig Aronoff and John Ward, I found a wealth of knowledge on the value of good advice and how to find and use the right expert advisor for your family business. Below are some bullet points to help you in your search. The consultants at Cooper Norman would welcome you to use these criteria to judge their expertise. They are sure you will find they have the highest qualifications to “keep your business healthy and your family happy”.
Maintains up-to-date technical knowledge and shows strong interest in and commitment to his/her field
Communicates openly in clear, simple language
Seeks to know the family and business in depth
Understands how families work and how family and business relate to each other
Gives advice and counsel that suit both the family and the business
Shows empathy, patience and trustworthiness
Is willing to work with successor generations
Promotes collaboration among advisors
Fails to avoid conflict of interest
Fails to respect client confidentiality
Works in isolation
Sells solutions rather than listening to problems
Ventures beyond his/her knowledge
Makes decisions for the client
Fails to foster good communication
Do you trust the person and feel confident of his/her abilities?
Is the advisor at least as successful in his/her field as you are in yours?
Is the advisor still learning and willing to change?
Would you be proud to be associated with this person before customers, suppliers, and other important contacts?
Does the advisor have a good mix of long-term and newer clients?
Does the advisor have enthusiastic references from businesses similar to yours and have the references given permission to be used?
Benchmarks of Excellence in Advisors
Red Flags in Client – Advisor Relationships:
Checklist for Selecting Advisors:
Resource: How to Choose & Use Advisors by Arnoff & Ward www.efamilybusiness.com