“What do M&A advisors do?” A look into a day in the life of Ben Olsen, Managing Partner at The DVS Group.
I find that people are often confused about what I do as an advisor at a mergers and acquisitions firm. If you search for an answer about what people within the industry do, you are inundated with posts about dog-eat-dog competition and long hours. Well, turns out, it’s possible to care about other people and get home to your family for dinner as an M&A advisor. Here’s a peek into a day in my life:
I took a demo call with a salesman for a new valuation software. We don’t currently use a software for our valuations. I think we do it better with our proprietary system. And, unfortunately for the salesman, I still think that.
The firm has a family office as a client. We have been sourcing deals for them for the past nine months or so. We recently connected them with an interesting branded product that they are acquiring. They are hoping to find other product lines that fit the same brand identity to build a platform of brands. We had a phone conversation centered around that new direction for their search and how our deal flow could bring them brands that fit the thesis.
The entire DVS team meets once a week to go over current deal work, prospective clients, and internal decisions. We enjoy the time together to get on the same page and delegate tasks for the week. This week was particularly productive as we work to integrate a new CRM software in the office.
Our nonprofit, buyside client is in the due diligence phase of their deal. We had a check-in phone call with both the buyer and seller to be sure they were on track to close on time. Things were moving along relatively smoothly so the phone call was brief and painless.
The firm needs to hire someone to take a couple admin tasks off of our project manager’s plate. I met with a candidate for that role and talked through the possibility of working together.
A business owner called our office in response to a letter we sent on behalf of one of our buyside clients. Although this business owner’s company wasn’t the best fit for our client it’s a great company and a relationship we want to maintain. I spoke with the business owner to better explain what our firm does and listen to his hopes for selling. The conversation reminded me of a local company looking to acquire that I will connect with this business owner.
There is so much to know when working with small to mid-sized businesses – unique complexities and tricky rules and regulations. I met a local real estate attorney for lunch – one way I hope to keep learning all that I can about each aspect of a deal. Plus, he was a nice guy!
Travel time. As I drove to north Kansas City, I used my windshield time to return phone calls.
This hour and a half was spent with a potential client. These types of meetings are a favorite part of my job. I get to learn about a business owner and his/her business. My curiosity comes alive as I ask detailed questions about the owner’s story and the company. The business owner often has many questions about the process so I also get to hear the sound of my own voice as I explain and educate.
This particular meeting was with a father and son. The son is hoping to buy the father out of the business. We talked through the steps necessary to get that done and I answered questions they had about the process.
I drove back down to the office.
This was the first chunk of my day where I got to sit at my desk and catch up. I had plenty of emails to respond to and the support team in the office had some questions they needed answered. I took the final hour or so of the day to get these things done.
That’s a day in my life as an advisor for business owners looking to buy or sell their companies. I’m not overwhelmed with constant competition and, thank goodness, I’m not sleeping in the conference room. My work is rewarding. Every day is different and because of that I learn something new every day.