SAN DIEGO - Advisors who’ve been through the deal process offer their recommendations for others considering a deal.

Get it in Writing

When advisors weigh mergers and acquisitions, they need to make sure that whatever they think they’ll be doing after the deal is written into the contract.

That was the advice of Mark Germain, CEO of Beacon Wealth Management, who spoke Thursday on a “strategic alignments” panel at TD Ameritrade Institutional’s annual advisor conference.

“Make sure it’s in the paperwork,” said Germain, whose firm is in the due diligence process of a transaction. “That’s what’s going to determine what you do on the Monday after the papers are signed.”

In a session focused on dealmaking, Germain and the other panelists each offered advice based on their own recent experiences. Here are a few more recommendations they offered:

Know What You Want

“We had very specific criteria,” said Sherri Daniels, who sold her Florida investment firm to Banyan Partners, where she’s now an executive VP and principal. “We needed thought leadership, we needed capital and we were looking to build a footprint across the nation.” Having clear goals helped her find the right partner, she said, adding that she’d had discussions with a couple of potential partners.

Focus on Your Clients

A deal allowed Bruce Meyer, managing director and owner at Beacon Pointe, to stop worrying about infrastructure and work more closely with clients. “I got limited by my time,” he said of his previous firm. “I was doing everything.” Initially he thought he’d merge with a partner his own size and expand from there. “Instead I merged into a partnership that had already [laid the groundwork], freeing me to be to do the thing I should be doing: client interaction.”

Be Tough About Due Diligence

“There is never enough,” Germain said. “Everything they ask you for, it is in your purview to ask them ... You need to make it as unpleasant for firms you are considering as they make it for you.” One facet of the deal is particularly important, he added: “Understand how you can be eliminated.”