An expert network is a group of professionals who are recognized as prominent figures within their particular field. Expert networks act as a bridge between clients who require specialized knowledge and these experienced professionals and advisors. Freelancing experts consult with businesses on specific topics or offer a skillset that is beyond that of a company’s knowledge base. Expert consulting can be very powerful and enable businesses to profit from any given expertise or strategy. As of 2020, the worth of the expert network market ranged between US$1.3 and US$1.5 billion.
The need for consultancies has seen a significant rise, meaning that those companies providing consultants have also grown quickly.
The largest and most dominant player in the market is GLG, the Gerson Lehrman Group. Other top companies providing links to world class experts are AlphaSights, Third Bridge and Guidepoint. Although hedge funds were the earliest to adopt this service, the wider financial industry now benefits from expert networks too. Expert network companies also work with law firms, corporations, professional service firms and private equity firms.
How an Expert Network Works?
The process of recruiting experts to a network consists of several steps:
- Searching for candidates
- Vetting the identified experts
- Adding the experts to a database
- Presenting the experts to clients
Artificial Intelligence-driven networks are expected to assume these tasks in the coming years thereby ensuring that maintaining an updated database and finding experts in niche fields is achieved quickly and efficiently.
Usually, due to the exclusive nature of the advanced expertise provided, experts in these networks charge high fees. There are several ways that a company can hire an expert – this can be for a short or long-term contract, on a needs-basis or on a retainer. Alternatively, experts may offer a subscription or transaction-based fee model.
The network itself takes a percentage of what the client is charged as recompense for their input. The expert network may employ the experts or the experts may simply be contracted or work under freelance arrangements with the expert network company. There are also independent experts on the market who are not affiliated with any expert network and who will set their own rates.
As the expert network concept grows, companies continue to diversify their services. Besides gaining access to an expert, a company can also undertake a survey of hundreds of experts and have this data analyzed to gain an actionable insight or hire an expert witness to help with their litigation.
Benefits of working with an expert network
By partnering with an expert network, a company will be able to access vital and practical knowledge arising from years of experience that is not available any other way via traditional research or academic theories. This is particularly important when assessing, benchmarking and validating a strategy for the future, all under the watchful eyes of highly skilled advisors.
The expertise one can contract is unbiased and independent. The client has the opportunity to discuss specific topics and scenarios and ask questions on particular issues. By hiring an expert, the time taken time from research to implementation can be reduced thereby allowing the company to achieve an important competitive advantage.