What Makes A Good Consultant

By Mark Arnold

For years I made fun of people who consulted with credit unions and banks. And then I became one (as part of what we do at On The Mark Strategies). As Robert Townsend, author of Up the Organization says, “consultants are people who borrow your watch and tell you what time it is, and then walk off with the watch.”

The reality is financial institutions do need help and outside perspective. But how do you know what makes a good consultant? Here are a few key traits:

(1)   Partner—A true consultant is not a vendor. If you feel they are a vendor, then run away (far away). You should do business with someone you can trust. It may sound cliché, but good business is about relationships.

(2)   Expert—You should hire experts, not service providers. If you need help in a particular area (lending, technology, marketing, planning, etc.) make sure the people you are working with don’t just have surface level or buzzword knowledge. Consultants who use all the latest buzzwords and blow smoke are the ones to avoid.

(3)   Real—When working at a financial institution, I had a terrible sales experience from a vendor that wanted our business (see the post “Smarmy Sales Guys are Dead.” If all they talk about are themselves then that is what they care about: themselves.

continue reading »