Posted: 03.02.2020

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You are likely to only sell a business once in your lifetime, so getting help and support from a specialist team is critical… as early as possible, even if a sale is a few years away

Similarly, you are only likely to select a corporate finance adviser once so how do you choose? – we have listed below some criteria which will help you get the right support and input but we strongly suggest that you look at client feedback and references as former clients should be their strongest marketing tool

Personality and character

Do you get on with the individuals you will be working with? A sale is an intensive process where you will be working very closely together


Have you met the people you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis? Can you be guaranteed senior involvement throughout?

Entrepreneurial empathy

Have they ever worked in a front-line role, sat where you are sitting and not just always been an adviser – have they ever set up a business or bought and sold a business themselves as a principal –  in other words, can they really empathise with you and your journey?

Dedicated experience

You should select an adviser who is totally dedicated solely to corporate finance work and has the breadth and depth of experience to be practical, relevant, commercial and streetwise – there is no substitute for experience in corporate finance


Top of the list on a survey of clients – you should be able to readily access your advisory team


Are they focussed on transactions of a size and nature similar to yours?

Track record

Do they have a strong track record? – demonstrating that they know how to get deals done and exceed expectations

The true acid test is their track record and there is no substitute for speaking with former clients

Value not volume

Experience is critical but you should look at the value-added within each transaction and not just a total number of transactions – you should not feel like just another transaction within a portfolio approach

International reach

Do they have the ability to both identify and access potential buyers across the globe?


You need to be certain that your advisers will be totally open and transparent, especially on potential conflicts of interest – in other words, you need to be happy that they will be acting solely and exclusively in your best interests

Sector expertise

You need to clearly understand why you feel sector experience might be beneficial and the additional value that may bring – a true sector expert who does nothing more than work in your sector could be beneficial but too many advisers claim sector expertise on the back of one or two transactions – check out the relevance of their  sector credentials to your specific transaction and be certain that they will be acting in your best interests

Quality of their documentation

Your adviser will be presenting your business so you need to ensure that their documentation oozes quality and professionalism


An adviser may have all the above criteria but are they truly motivated to mobilise their resources to get you the best possible outcome? Do they really care about your transaction and adopt your priorities as their own?

Do not focus only on the price that an adviser claims they can achieve – please do not be seduced by the adviser that claims they can deliver the highest price as ultimately, the market will tell you the price so you should select the buyer who you feel will test the market most effectively – similarly, fees should not be your primary criteria as, provided they are within reasonable parameters, the right adviser will add value significantly in excess of the fees charged

The true acid test is their track record and there is no substitute for speaking with some former clients (and not just the ones the adviser suggests!) – this has the added benefit of enabling you to share in other’s experiences
Being a corporate finance adviser is a very privileged and responsible role and you should be sure that your adviser recognises that this is such an important transaction to you

Finally, our strong advice is not to “do it yourself”, even if you already have a buyer lined up and maybe even a headline price agreed
Choosing the right corporate finance adviser will be one of your most critical buying decisions – take the time to get it right

Thinking of selling in the next five years or simply want an informal chat over a coffee then the team at Provantage Corporate Finance would love to hear from you

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