The history of expert networks is a tumultuous one. After a rocky patch in the mid-2000’s that saw the largest firm in the industry get hit with a massive insider trading scandal, the industry is thriving once again. The industry generated over $1 billion USD in revenue in 2018 and Bloomberg reported (more than a year ago!) that clients routinely pay as much as $1300 USD for a 60-minute phone call.
We presume that that price is just for monolingual calls with an expert that speaks the same language. For interpreted calls, expect that number to rise significantly.
What we’re trying to say is: there’s a huge fiscal opportunity for interpreters willing to dive into the world of remote due diligence call interpretation!
The expert network industry is growing rapidly. They range from massive global outfits with dozens of offices to smaller outfits focused on a specific geography or industry.
The traditional expert network model is a matchmaker that matches clients with industry experts, no matter how niche the target. Our CEO Matt Conger’s favorite anecdotal example from his time at Bain was a research project during which he was tasked with conducting due diligence on the water tank industry in Austin, Texas. Such industry- and region-specific information would be at best incredibly time-consuming and at worst impossible to find via traditional channels. Through expert networks, however, he was able to quickly and easily set up calls with upper management at major Austin-based water tank suppliers to gain all the (non-proprietary!) knowledge he needed for his project.
Like any industry with such a potential for growth, there are a number of players that are looking to disrupt the industry with innovative new models for more effectively sourcing experts or disseminating the knowledge in a more cost-friendly manner. However, as of 2019, players that utilize the standard model outlined above still occupy the vast majority of market share.
We wrote extensively about the difference between exploratory and confirmatory due diligence in the first chapter of our Beginner’s Guide to Due Diligence (a useful piece in its own right if you’re looking for a broader picture of due diligence and the investment cycle as a whole).
However, when it comes to expert network calls, we discovered that calls can almost always be classified as one of two distinct types: an industry discussion or a technical deep dive.
We’ll explain later in this guide how understanding which type of call the client will be conducting can help both your pre-call preparation and interpretation, but for now, let’s focus on the definitions:
Clients conducting an industry discussion are trying to formulate a more complete picture of a specific industry in a specific geography. These calls will be relatively general in nature and are probably easier in comparison to the technical deep dives, if only because the questions asked during the call are more predictable.
Common questions asked during an industry discussion might include:
Who are the major players in a specific market in a specific geography?
How would you forecast specific major market trends over the upcoming 5-10 years?
What is some of the most innovative or disruptive tech affecting your industry and geography right now?
How are specific regulatory policies affecting your industry and geography?
What trends are you seeing that drive EBITDA growth?
Unlike an exploratory market overview call, a technical deep dive is, as the name implies, an in-depth discussion on a specific product, process, supply chain, or other technical topic. A call that falls under this category requires incredibly in-depth pre-call preparation and prior experience in the field, either as an interpreter or in a professional capacity. A few examples of technical deep-dive topics our interpreters have covered recently include:
IV solution bags bonded with needle-free connectors;
Superabsorbent polymers (SAPs).
If you don’t know what any of these topics are, don’t worry! They make up only a fraction of the calls we facilitate.
For practical purposes, we’ll be focusing on industry discussion calls instead of technical deep dives; industry discussion calls make up over 80% of the due diligence calls we facilitate.
The value a skilled interpreter provides cannot be understated. Not only do they serve as a means for the two parties on a call to understand one another, but they also serve as an active mediator that helps clients glean more information from their multilingual calls.
In the coming chapters, we’ll share some of the best practices from our community on how to effectively interpret remote due diligence calls.