Even before the ubiquitous transportation disruptor UBER was formed, several seasoned colleagues and I formed our first Über Group in 2008. I went on to form seven such groups. The “groups” comprised of 8 to 15 professionals with 20+ years of experience who were “connectors”. A connector is a proactive role putting vetted quality advisors together with other advisors and clients. More than just a “warm” referral, but one in which their gravitas is assured. The professions had one degree of separation such as bankers, attorneys, accountants, insurance and wealth advisors.
But what made these select few “Über”? It was the fact they first saw themselves as client stewards and not solely through the lenses of their professional skills. Liken their activities to a concierge that anticipates issues and opportunities. They provide unique, private assistance geared to the specific needs of a specific individual. They are the 21st Century version of “consigliores”. While usually ascribed to the movie “The Godfather”, the meaning is counselor to leadership – “The most trusted advisor”.
Similar to bank tellers being phased out by ATM’s, many financial advisors are being slowly replaced by automation – robo-advisors. The wisdom is “rank and file” investors don’t need the human interaction as asset allocation to balance risk and reward can be performed by programs. I can see it now. The value of equities held declines by 15% and the investor dials a call center. “Press One if you want to know what happened. Press Two if you want to be told you’ll be okay….” You get the idea. I digress.
In a book I wrote, Equity Value Enhancement (“EVE”), I propose many professional advisors tend to unwittingly commoditize their services. How? They define themselves by what they do versus what their clients need. This means their “optics” are tied to what they know and how they’re compensated. This creates myopia. As one can imagine a fee for service mindset often finds it difficult to articulate the difference in offerings from others. If the claim is quality, timeliness and service (“relationship”), who among one’s competitors isn’t claiming the same? This thinking is transactional, tactical and technical. It is usually ad hoc and almost always reactive.
Differentiation is a bitch. So unique (emphasis on cutting-edge, over-the-horizon, uncommon, data analytics) knowledge is a must. This takes a degree of “what if?” and “what this might mean” intellectual rigor and due diligence most simply are unable or unwilling to expend. That is still okay as long as you know who does know and are placing a prospect’s or client’s needs before fear of losing them to another. How does one know whether one has Über relationships? Are advisors making, writing or reading the news? Are they attending the conferences or are they the presenter or on the panel?
So, why I wrote this missive and the 368 pages of EVE is to show both advisors and business owners just how much an impact an Über or “most trusted advisor” (“MTA”) has on managing risk and enhancing the value of both the advisors’ and their clients’ businesses. This will be done in four parts using the acronym “GRRK” (pronounced “Greek”). Part One will address Governance (Strategy, Culture, and Innovation). Part Two will address Relationships. Part Three will address Risks (almost half the book) and Part Four will address Knowledge.
Below is a video that provides 20 minutes of knowledge nuggets covered from learning from 1000+ business owners and trusted advisors during the past 25 years. Sharing their wisdom allowed me to be honored by the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors as Midmarket Thought Leader.