Our latest research “Best Practices in Investment Advisory Partnerships” (download here) was profiled in the June 2014 edition of Inside Information, a subscriber-only publication read by investment industry leaders. We appreciate the author, Bob Veres’, take on our research. He has been a thought-leader in the field for decades. As he points out we did put a lot of thought into, “asking all the right questions. What makes successful partners stay together? What builds the commitment and resilience in a partnership? What can people do to feed that and make it grow?” Some of his comments, and even the title of the profile “Merger Therapy”, gave us a different perspective on how others might see the value in our work.
A critical feature of our work is that we are a neutral party, and work with partners to guide them to a solution that works for them. In the end it is their deal, and their contribution to the process is key to sustainable agreements. Mediators can be a little sensitive to their work being thought of as therapy. They (and we) point out that mediation differs from therapy in one key way: mediation is forward-looking while therapy tends to delve into the past. However, this may be a distinction without a difference when it comes to helping partners form and then maintain a strong partnership, and especially when using mediation to help resolve conflicts instead of resorting to litigation. This was something that the profile in Inside Information made us think about a bit more. Every potential partner brings their personal history into a partnership; is an important part of what they bring to future partner relationships. As we noted, those who have been in failed partnerships have a heightened awareness about the personal and monetary pain of failure.
What partners have in common is the desire to have a partnership that is as beneficial as it can be, one that achieves the promise of the economic and personal fulfillment that working with another to reach your goals can have. This should involve talking through your own motivations and expectations as well as the vision for the firm. As Veres points out in his article “pre-merger planning and discussion process is far more difficult and complicated than it looks going in.” There can be very difficult conversations that are all but impossible without an objective guide. If done well, this cannot help but be a rather introspective experience.
The Inside Information profile brought a perspective on our research that we were too close to see, much as our work brings partners a new perspective on their partnerships. “Those in the game are blind to what those looking on see clearly” notes a Chinese Proverb, and whether some of the work done to get there feels to some like therapy, the objective as Veres points out “is to maximize the efficiencies and effectiveness of the new entity, right from the start and down the road.”