What Makes a Well-Run Service Provider? 6 Attributes To Look for in New Partners
No matter the specialty, finding a new professional service provider is a tedious process. As you narrow down your choices, seek firms with these six attributes—all of which signify effective management and stable internal dynamics.
- Proven Track Record
Your service provider doesn’t have to have literal centuries of experience under its belt, as U.K. law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore—founded in the Elizabethan period—can claim. However, the company should be able to demonstrate continuity over relatively long timescales. This is not to say that newly formed service providers have nothing to offer discerning clients, particularly if their principals have extensive experience elsewhere—merely that length of service can be an indicator of quality of service.
- Robust Support for Charitable Initiatives
Well-run firms tend to be visible in the communities they serve—and, often, beyond. Look for firms that support charitable initiatives, local or otherwise, that align with their values. Global trust services provider Asiaciti Trust’s support for Latin American Roaming Art is a case in point: Asiaciti Trust has been a major sponsor for LARA since the initiative’s inception earlier this decade, despite the fact that its base of operations is half a world away in Singapore.
- Subject Matter Expertise
Well-run firms tend to be characterized by extensive subject matter expertise—that is, individual staff members at all levels of the organization are well-versed in particular specialties. With enough such specialists, independent service providers can serve a wide range of clients in a wide array of circumstances. Keep in mind, however, that the ability to perform a task well is more important than the ability to perform that task at all.
- Cross-Jurisdictional Knowledge and Experience
In a similar vein, look for service providers whose institutional knowledge transcends jurisdictional boundaries. Clients whose business activities cross international borders are wise to seek out service providers in the same boat. New York-based investment management firm Franklin Templeton Investments might base its operations in the United States, but its wealth management activities—and client base—do not stop at the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
- Long-Running Client Relationships
Well-run service providers tend to have low client turnover rates. Client-provider relationships may—and do—end for any number of reasons, but a core collection of enduring relationships signifies effective management. Before you formalize a relationship with a new service provider, speak with current and former clients to confirm that the company’s core relationships have endured due to the quality of service, rather than client inertia.
- Seasoned Staff
Every service provider must take on junior staff to replenish its ranks, and therefore it is important not to focus too much on staff metrics like average age or length of service. That said, there is often a close correlation between staff experience and quality of service—both of which may be open to interpretation. During your due diligence period, review the professional backgrounds of the principals and the staffers set to handle your account. In addition to years of experience and key professional milestones, look for evidence of adaptability in the face of changing economic, legal, and political circumstances.
Find Your Perfect Corporate Match
These aren’t the only tests you can apply during your search for a new service provider. Remember, finding the perfect corporate match isn’t a wholly scientific process—ultimately, you need to choose a partner you feel like you can grow with for years to come.