How To Choose the Best Asset Search Company
Quality and price are typically the most important factors for determining the value of an asset search. However, when looking online for a financial investigator or asset search company, it is not always easy to know whether their services will be reliable or comprehensive. It can also be difficult to compare pricing options and figure out how much you’ll ultimately have to pay.
Here are five suggestions for how to choose the best asset search company:
Ask for a sample report. Reviewing a sample asset search report is probably the best way to quickly and accurately size up the quality of the work. It will reveal whether the investigators are accustomed to digging deep into financial details, such as property title, transfer, and financing history. It should also show if they are capable of presenting their findings in a clear, concise, courtroom-quality document.
Find out what’s included – and get it in writing. Before any work is conducted, the specific scope of investigation should be outlined in a written proposal for your approval. It is important to note whether their proposed plan covers only the basics like houses, vehicles and bankruptcies. Asset search experts will explore more complex areas, including investment portfolios, family trusts, financial settlements and fraudulent transfers.
Research their reputation and credentials. For established firms, it should be easy to find reviews posted online. Endorsements from past clients may also be featured on the company’s website, offering insights on whether they are a trusted source for asset searches by attorneys, executives and other professionals. Proper due diligence on private investigation firms should also include confirmation of their licensing and insurance, as well as consideration of their experience, education and qualifications such as Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credentials.
Speak with an investigator. You will learn a lot during the first few minutes after contacting an asset search company. For starters, you will learn whether new clients are handled directly by an experienced investigator. You will discover whether they are interested in learning about your situation and tailoring an approach to address your individual needs. If they follow-up the conversation with email correspondence or a retainer agreement, you will be given another opportunity to evaluate whether their communication is professional, timely and accurate – and whether it properly addresses the unique circumstances of your case.
Consider price in terms of best value. Private investigators – like most professional service providers – typically charge hourly fees. Yet when looking for a firm to conduct an asset search, you might come across information brokers or internet sites advertising ‘flat-fee’ or ‘package’ pricing. How can they charge the same amount for every asset search, regardless of the circumstances or complexity of the case? Many low-cost and flat-fee searches are sourced exclusively from commercial databases, comparable to what you could find on your own online. Those sites may claim to be comprehensive, but they often contain inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information. Asset search experts do things differently. They’re not paid to uncover the obvious. The best asset search companies trace assets through deep and diligent investigation. Experts may charge higher hourly rates, but they also tend to work more efficiently. By consistently delivering the highest-quality work, they provide the best value for their clients.
Not all asset search companies are created equal. Knowing how to evaluate their service offerings and pricing options is an important step toward successfully locating assets and accounts for judgment recovery, civil litigation, settlement negotiations, divorce proceedings or probate administration. Asset searches are often conducted after considerable resources have already been committed in litigation, making it essential to choose an investigative firm that consistently delivers the best results at a reasonable cost.
About the Author: John Powers is president of Hudson Intelligence, an investigative firm specializing in asset searches and financial investigations.