“For insolvency practitioners (IP’s) seeking to dispose of a business or its assets, choosing the right agent can make all the difference in achieving the best returns for creditors”, says Ian Maycock of Charterfields. However some IPs are uncertain about what exactly they can expect of a valuations and asset disposal specialist and what makes an effective agent. Here are 10 things to look out for:
1. Accurate assessment of assets
Valuation Agents can play a valuable role in collecting and analysing the initial information from the company. Accurate assessment of assets is the basis of everything we do, and experience, enthusiasm and an eye for detail are essential. Choosing an agent who pays attention to detail can help relieve the pressure on busy IPs.
2. Clear and timely reporting
Where a company is facing imminent insolvency, IPs rely on the information in the valuation report to make key decisions on their appointment. Timeliness and clear communication are vital – communicating with people is what a good agent does best.
3. Independent, objective advice
Professionalism and integrity are key for any valuation agent. You must be able to trust them with your money and be sure they are acting in your interest at all times, whether you are present or not. When handing funds, there should never be a crossover between office and client accounts, and cleared funds should be available on demand. If your agent is a RICS registered firm, they will undergo regular external audits of client accounts.
4. Ability to value intellectual property
The expansion of the service sector, growth of new technologies and the increased brand awareness, more and more assets are intangible. A good valuation agent must be able to consider these alongside the physical assets like plant and property and understand how best to achieve value from them.
5. A valuation agent who can manage third-party assets
The Retention of Title process is time-consuming but agents who understand the rules can deliver significant cost savings for IPs. A good valuation agent will also be able to ensure the return of third-party assets – for which the IP has a duty of care but which is often overlooked.
6. Up-to-date, expert knowledge
Technical expertise develops with experience but it also requires valuation agents to keep abreast of the changes in the profession. The best agents combine experience with a progressive attitude to stay on top of their game and be able to provide the best, current advice. PI insurance aside, this will help protect you from any claims resulting from the agent not being ‘up to speed’.
7. A team player
A good valuation agent is an extension of your team. To provide outstanding results, they must be able to engage positively with your team and any other professional advisers and provide regular and prompt communication.
8. Strong negotiation skills
The sales process is an area where good agents really excel, from preparing marketing materials, catalogues to dealing with buyers and agreeing heads of terms. An agent should be able to play an integrated role in preparing Special Purpose Arrangements (SPAs). Anyone negotiating on your behalf will need a business sense as good as your own and of course, a great understanding of people to achieve the best possible deal.
9. Creative thinking
In any insolvency, unpredictable problems can arise and your valuation agent needs to be able to think on their feet to offer solutions. This is particularly the case when negotiating a sale. Achieving a good deal can be a complex and tortuous process but creative thinking can result in a mutually satisfactory compromise.
Sometimes it takes sheer persistence to get the job done. If cases are left to drift, opportunities can be lost, problems multiply and costs can escalate. Your valuation agent needs to be a ‘finisher’ – someone who can bring things to a conclusion and allow everyone concerned to move on the next case.
This article has been written by Ian Maycock who is a Director at Charterfields. If you would like to know more about Business Recovery or Asset Disposals you can contact Ian here .