How to do it ... Choosing a good financial advisor
The trust a long-term care organization places in a person to guide and consult on its finances is no less important than the trust the residents have in the operator. A provider must be willing to invest the time to find one who is a good fit, and willing to go the extra mile to help achieve the provider's specific financial goals.
1 Many facilities may invest too little time in sweating details such as what direction their investment should be headed in and what type of vehicles they should use. Invest in researching financial advisors carefully.
“Choosing a good financial advisor is critical to the successful placement of your equity or debt request,” says Imran Javaid, managing director, healthcare and specialty finance, Capital One.
Consider advisors who have worked on similar requests as yours, but try not to rely too heavily on just an advisor's track record, Javaid adds. Spend time asking tough questions of referral sources about what did and didn't work for them. Avoid gut feelings.
“There is entirely too much emphasis on that,” Javaid says. “Look for more objective criteria.”
Such intangibles can sometimes lead you astray, warns Bill Wilson, senior vice president, regional manager, central states, Lancaster Pollard.
“A common mistake is going with the ‘flavor of the month',” he says.
2 While a good professional independent financial advisor is worth his or her weight in gold, solid and reliable advice also can be found with reputable, networked lenders, says Steve Kennedy, managing director, Lancaster Pollard. Of utmost importance, however, is an advisor who is “trustworthy, responsive, and proven,” he adds.
3 Choose advisors who know your market. Advisors and lenders who specialize in long-term care could save you headaches — and time.
“The last thing you want is to have to explain issues in your market,” cautions Mark O'Brien, executive vice president for business development and underwriting for Gemino Healthcare Finance. “You should ask how familiar they are in dealing with home healthcare providers, as well as payors such as Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance.”
Hand-in-hand with that is an advisor who shares your values, says William Kauffman, managing director for seniors housing at Oak Grove Capital.
“Senior housing and healthcare owners should look for the same service traits in a financial advisor that owners provide to residents of their facilities,” he adds.
4 Pick an advisor who represents your interests, not just themselves.
“Each advisor should operate on an independent platform [not be a product pusher] and must provide tailored advice given the operator's unique circumstances and needs,” adds Kennedy. It's easy to spot whose interests are in mind if your advisor is willing to call upon outside expertise.
“The best advisors are those who can tap other lenders and advisors to meet the owner's financing needs, rather than trying to squeeze an inappropriate financing structure into an owner's circumstances,” adds Kauffman.
5 Get organized before you make that call. Few things irk a busy advisor more than an owner/operator who hasn't done his or her homework.
This includes “clients that send a package without a summary that clearly spells out the request, basic sources and uses and sufficiently detailed financials,” Javaid says. “If yours is disorganized, it would not get its fair look from the kinds of institutions that you are trying to attract.”
And be as transparent as possible. “Hiding” challenging aspects of your situation only leads to delays and a waste of resources, Javaid adds.
6 Stick with relationships that work. Hold dear to advisors you've had success with. As you've invested all of this time and effort in building a solid, trusting relationship, your advisor should have the ability to know what works best for your unique situation.
“A good financial advisor can make the difference between a lender taking a close look at your package or putting it in the ‘I will get to it when I can' pile,” notes Javaid.
Mistakes to avoid
Skimping on research and not checking referrals
Failing to have an organized, informative plan before an advisor meeting
Working with advisors unfamiliar with your market and its intricacies