Keeping search consultants honest

The 4As has a list of search consultants on their website. Before being put on the list, these consultants are asked to agree to a code of conduct that, in part, suggests they won’t accept fees from agencies. Be forewarned: there are a few infamous consultants on the list that accept money from both sides of the relationship, yet still felt they could agree to the code of conduct.

One of the tenets that gives these guys wiggle room: they’ll accept money from only one side of a given transaction. But you and I know this is bullshit. What can be done about it?

Two quick thoughts that have no doubt come up in people’s minds, but could stand to have some public debate:

  • Would it help if the 4As published a list of agency new business consultants (instead of just search consultants)?  No one would want to be on both lists. Granted, this is a little self-serving coming from good ol’ Thunderclap, but an interesting idea regardless.
  • Could the 4As take a lesson from our Canadian neighbors and get into the search business themselves? Dangerous? Absolutely. Plenty of potentially ugly issues there. But I’d settle for the 4As getting into the business of recommending which search consultants to use. One easy way of doing that would be leveraging (potentially) already strong relationships they might have with the relevant client trade associations (ANA, AMA, etc.)

Anything to add? Let’s hear about it!