In any commercial transaction, it really matters to have a strong professional and operational team. Whether it’s a property development, an acquisition or sale, investment or restructure; you are (to use the cliché) as strong as your weakest link. A good team will add value beyond the money it costs.
It’s easy to say this, but it’s important to realise. We have seen transactions which are twice as hard, and cost twice as much in professional fees, because one of the advisers in one company’s team just isn’t up to it. It just may not be their professional field, or they are stretching themselves, or not sufficiently resourced. Sometimes people go to the lawyer who did their conveyancing or the accountant who does their payroll, without really knowing if they can handle corporate transactions or commercial property developments.
One of our watchwords at Berwins is that we won’t do anything unless we can do it really well. Over time we have turned away work in areas where we could, perhaps, make a fist of it; because we know that there will be people who can do the job better. We’re also aware that if we try to wing it, we’re creating risk for others, and putting the burden on them. Why would we do that?
It’s about team work, and a team working together who even if they didn’t know each other, get to know and trust each other. Sometimes it’s not just about people knowing their stuff, but that their service levels and response times are in line with the rest of the team. Business transactions need a momentum, combined with technical expertise and commercial awareness. If one of the team is less responsive than others, or gets bogged down in some technical details without an awareness of the broader commercial perspective – that’s not helping anyone, and it can lead to blame and restlessness which can upset a transaction.
Appreciating this, we’re always “talent spotting” – developing relationships with other professionals so that we have a good feel for their strengths and weaknesses; where their “sweet spot” is, and what isn’t going to be for them. This means we get to know who are the right people to introduce in a particular set of circumstances (and there are no introduction fees involved, ever). We hope, of course, that people recommend us on the same basis. This isn’t back-scratching; it’s really about knowing what you need, in terms of a team, to oil the wheels and minimise the pain of complex transactions. Commercial transactions can be hard, they can be gruelling and they invariably bring up unsuspected issues. What you need it a team you can trust and who’ll get you there effectively, and share the burden. It may cost; but it’ll cost more not to do it right.
Paul Berwin is Senior Partner at Berwins and has over 30 years' experience in supporting businesses.