How to Choose the Right Advisor for Your Acquisition

In case you missed it, we launched an M&A advisor directory last week. You can now hire an acquisition professional to help you close quickly, easily, and at the highest price. But with over 50 advisors to choose from (with more coming), you might be wondering how to pick the right one. Advisors differ on many aspects and specialities, and it might not be obvious who’s the best match. 

In this article, we define all professionals who help close M&A transactions as an “advisor.” This includes attorneys, business brokers, accountants, insurance brokers, tax advisors, escrow agents, and so on.

You’ll often need a multidisciplinary team of advisors to help you close your deal depending on the size of the transaction and its complexity. But more broadly, there are universal traits applicable to all specialities that make an advisor a good (or not so good) fit for your company.  To help you settle on the best choice, we’ve collected some tips to help refine your search. 

Find Someone You Trust

When you invite an outside party into your startup, trust is essential. Not only are you relying on the advisor to deliver on their promises but you might also give them access to sensitive and/or confidential data such as intellectual property, trade secrets, teams, operations, and so on. If possible, use an advisor you already know and trust. Or, find one through a mutual connection such as a professional network who’s already been vetted by someone you trust.  

When you invite an outside party into your startup, trust is essential. Not only are you relying on the advisor to deliver on their promises but you might also give them access to sensitive and/or confidential data such as intellectual property, trade secrets, teams, operations, and so on. If possible, use an advisor you already know and trust. Or, find one through a mutual connection such as a professional network who’s already been vetted by someone you trust.  

You should also reach out to founders who’ve exited startups of a similar size and industry to yours and ask who helped them. Most should be happy to refer someone, and knowing someone who’s had a positive experience is typically a good sign the advisor in question is worth hiring. Check as many of your criteria boxes as possible before contacting them. 

We know trust is critical in an acquisition and have vetted all of our advisors during a stringent onboarding process. We have an in-house broking advisor, counsel, and decades of combined experience in the acquisition market, ensuring you get only the best advisors to help sell your startup. We’ll soon add ratings and testimonials, too, to refine your search further. 

Vet on Experience and Reputation

It’s not enough to pick an advisor who’s closed deals. You also need to understand how they went down. Here’s a sample of questions you should ask an advisor before hiring them:

  • How many deals have they closed, how much for, and in what industries? 
  • Which companies did they help exit and are they similar to yours? 
  • What tactics did they use? 
  • Do they have a network to leverage to help you get Acquired? 
  • What are their qualifications? 
  • Are they responsive and communicative? 
  • Even if they’re skilled, do they have a reputation of being difficult to work with? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with whomever you hire, so make sure you get along with them on a personal level as well (more on this later).  

The bigger the overlap between their experience and the particulars of your business, the better equipped they are to handle your acquisition. They should be happy to discuss their past engagements and how they can help you. The big question: What qualifies the advisor as the best person to help close your acquisition at the maximum price and in the shortest time? 

An easy way to do this on our M&A directory is to filter by deal size, volume, industry, or expertise, and then vet their Acquire and LinkedIn profiles. Soon, you’ll be able to view ratings, too. You’re under no obligation to use an advisor, so don’t hesitate to reach out to one and ask questions and discuss engagement options with them.  

What’s the Advisor’s Strategy and Who’s Doing the Work?

During your early discussions with an advisor, ask about their strategy and tactics.  When possible, ask for a success plan for the transaction laid out on paper. A lack of strategic thinking is a red flag, and a potential sign of inexperience, as is any prevarication when asked. You need an advisor with an actionable battle plan which they formulate and refine according to your goals. Advisors that grill you will likely perform better than those that don’t. 

You might also find that the advisor won’t be doing all of the work in your engagement. For example, they may have associates or employees at their firm that do the majority of the heavy lifting. While the advisor effectively vouches for their team, it makes sense to extend your vetting efforts to their team, too. 

We’ve designed our advisor directory to be open, transparent, and collaborative. You have clear lines of communication through our platform, and you can upload documents and share other pertinent details while leaving an audit trail of your engagement. When you hire an approved advisor on Acquire, your advisor’s interests and yours align in spirit and practice. 

Do You Get Along?

Although this is last on the list, it’s probably one of the most important questions before hiring an advisor. In some respects, hiring an advisor is a bit like hiring a cofounder whose skill set complements yours. You’re going to work together, intensively, for weeks, so it’s crucial you like the person you’re working with, otherwise it’ll be painful for both of you. 

Your advisor should support you, listen to your needs, and act in your best interests. Don’t work with an advisor if you doubt their intentions or character. The acquisition process is stressful enough without adding interpersonal friction, too. Before engaging an advisor, find some time to meet them in person or over a video call to get to know each other better. 

Whoever you choose to help with your acquisition, don’t rush into an engagement. Vet them first to avoid tears and tantrums later. An advisor can eliminate friction, confusion, and stress in the acquisition process – and get you a better price – but only when you hire one who understands your business and has your best interests at heart. 

With over 50 M&A advisors to choose from, you now have all the help you need to get Acquire’d right here on our platform. To hire an advisor, visit our advisor directory now.


The content on this site is not intended to provide legal, financial, or M&A advice. It is for information purposes only, and any links provided are for your convenience. Please seek the services of an M&A professional before any M&A transaction. It is not Acquire’s intention to solicit or interfere with any established relationship you may have with any M&A professional.