I have engaged a buy-side M&A advisor in Toronto (SG) and would like to share my takeaways from that engagement so other search funders don't fall into the same trap.

This Toronto-based M&A firm claims to have completed numerous deals and is active in the Searchfunder community.
I paid an initial retainer plus an ongoing advanced retainer (billed quarterly) to get started. They claimed to have over 75,000 contact information of business owners, advisors, and others in their CRM system. They said they could provide qualified leads that fit my search criteria in just a few weeks.

As I conducted an industry-specific search, I provided them with both the NAICS and SIC codes of my target industry to refine the deal flow. The goal was to conduct a proprietary search by contacting business owners who met the search criteria.

Shockingly, I have not received a single lead or qualified deal flow from them over the course of the entire engagement. All I got from them was a brokered deal that was already public on businessesforsale.com. So, I contacted the firm's president (K.S.) and asked for a progress check meeting.

Upon meeting with their search "team," I noticed that some interns with no experience have been assigned to this project. They have no clue how to generate deal flow and have not done a single outreach to any of the proprietary leads they were supposed to contact. The level of their unprofessionalism was beyond believe. They relied on leads coming from other M&A firms. You might wonder why you would need a buy-side advisor that will eventually costs you $100K++ (post closing) if all they can do is relay the leads that are already in the market instead of generating proprietary leads!

After over 90 days of wasted time and money, I terminated the contract and requested a full refund, but they refused to comply.

I wanted to share my experience here so other search funders, especially in Canada, don't fall into the same trap. I don't disagree that there are good, credible M&A advisors out there, but be very careful in vetting them so you don't lose your money and time on unprofessional scammers.


P.S.: Name of the M&A advisory firm is Shaughnessy Group (https://shaughnessy.group/).