Jay Hernandez of Raymond James: M&A Process Best Practices

Jay Hernandez recently joined the Karma School of Business podcast, sharing his insights into the dynamic world of private equity.

In his discussion with host Sean Mooney, Hernandez, an investment banker focused on industrial technology, talked best practices in mergers and acquisitions.

He emphasized the importance or preparation, understanding buyer psyche and building trust and reputation.

Here are some insights from their conversation.

3 Takeaways from Jay

1. M&A Preparation

Hernandez emphasized the importance of thorough preparation before entering the market. This involves not just understanding one’s own business but also being ready for the intense scrutiny that comes with merger and acquisition processes.

“It’s never too early to prepare for that event,” Hernandez said. “You always have to be prepared.”

Mooney agreed: “The more you do that, the more luck you tend to have in business and life, but also M&A processes.”

READ MORE: Why Mergers and Acquisitions Fail

Hernandez also stressed the importance of talking to key players early in the process.

“Engage your advisors, engage your experts well in advance. And it could be even a year or two in advance,” Hernandez said.

Mooney said that doing so can ensure that all aspects of the business are aligned and ready for the sale process.

“You should probably be talking with an investment banker right now so that when that light is green, you’re getting an early start,” he said.

2. Understanding Buyer Psyche

Hernandez also pointed out the increased depth and detail in buyers’ inquiries within M&As.

“The psyche of the participants has changed, and particularly on the buyers, and where that’s changed a lot is the areas that they’re digging into and the depth of which they’re digging into,” he said.

Mooney underscored the need for sellers to understand and anticipate the buyer’s perspective. He highlighted the diligence PE firms conduct in preparing for M&A processes.

“Private equity firms are spending more time making sure things are absolutely buttoned up so that they’re prepared to move as quickly as possible through an M&A process,” he said.

READ MORE: Merger Planning & Integration: Best Practices for Private Equity Firms

3. Building Trust and Reputation

Finally, Hernandez emphasized the necessity for buyers to maintain integrity and straightforwardness during the M&A process.

“You need to make sure that you’re doing it right for the company that you’re looking at, because at the same time, you’re going to be their partner going forward,” he said.

Mooney cautioned about the fragility of reputation.

“It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and literally 30 seconds to ruin it,” he said.

Hernandez added that “99.999 percent of the groups that we deal with and the buyers that we deal with are straight shooters and do exactly what they’re going to say.”

READ MORE: Post-Merger Integration: Framework, Keys to Success


Hernandez’s entire conversation with Mooney offers unique insight into the world of mergers and acquisitions from an investment banking perspective. (Stay tuned until the end for a time- and stress-saving life hack about cooking the perfect steak.)

When you’re done listening, head to the main BluWave podcast page for more conversations with business leaders.

Interim Executive Best Practices: Trends in Short-Term Leadership Roles

Why should a business use an interim executive?

It can be a great way to bridge the gap between full-time hires, give a potential long-term hire a “tryout,” train up less experienced candidates, guide a company through a crisis or even prepare a business for sale.

Whatever the case, interim CFOs, CMOs, CHROs, COOs and the like can be money well invested.

To get the most out of these temporary executives, though, businesses need to have a plan.

BluWave’s Richmond Donnelly discussed the best practices of using interim C-suite talent on a webinar with Mark Steenhoek, Managing Director, Operations, of The Stephens Group and Bryan West, Managing Director, Talent at Resurgens Technology Partners.

Here are some of the actionable insights you can apply to your business’s interim executive strategy.

A diverse group of business leaders dressed in suits looking at papers around a table in a conference room. The room is also well-lit.

When, How To Work with Interim Executives

While there are many situations in which an interim executive might be a good fit, the panelists outlined the most common ones their firms face.

“There’s good reasons and bad reasons that we would hire. I’d say that we find ourselves more in the camp with the bad reasons, and I’d describe those as two,” Steenhoek said. “It’s a crisis situation. Somebody leaves…or it’s a situation where we started looking in this a little bit more post-COVID in that we would have an open CFO role and then it takes nine to 12 months to fill it just because the market was so tight and difficult to find that perfect fit.”

West added that he is a big fan of the “try before you buy” approach. He said he’s encouraged by the number of his peers who are like-minded.

“That was actually reassuring,” he said. “That’s a great way to build a relationship and we’re always open to that.”

Top Interim CXO Use Cases

Whatever the use case, interim leadership is consistently one of the most-used services in the Business Builders’ Network, according to BluWave’s quarterly insights.

Based on the proprietary data collected from working with hundreds of private equity firms and thousands of leading businesses, the two most-used interim executives are CFOs and CHROs.

Read more about how each of these crucial roles is used:

Based on a live poll of webinar attendees, most PE firms fill multiple interim executive roles per year, taking 3-6 months to do so.

At BluWave, however, we connect you with a short list of exact-fit candidates within a single business day of your initial scoping call.

Why Hire an Interim Executive?

Beyond broader use cases, PE firms and their businesses usually have a specific set of tasks they need this temporary hire to complete.

“We’re able to go in and very specifically orient to on a project basis like, ‘Hey, does this person have experience or the skills to knock out kind of a more tactical list of things?’” West said.

He said that while the overall goal may be the same as when you bring in a full-time C-suite hire, the selection criteria is “quite different” based on what needs to get done.

Echoing BluWave data, Steenhoek said interim CFOs are their most common interim executive hires. The tasks each one is expected to accomplish tend to be the same, with variations depending on the company’s industry.

Interim Executive Criteria, Selection

Moving beyond the to-do list of items to accomplish, what is it that the world’s top PE firms and businesses look for in interim executives themselves?

West said that having done so many hirings in the past makes it easier to pick up on red flags in candidates. Beyond that, he relies on experience to choose the right person.

“We need somebody that’s been there, done that,” he said. “We don’t want to burn six months of time or three to six months of time on building a function.”

Steenhoek agreed, saying that is his top priority, too.

“I think the second would be, especially if it’s a leadership thing…radical transparency,” he said. “You’re just going to be able to really work together hand-in-hand, which equates to low-ego. They know what they’re there for.”

Setting Interim Executives Up for Success

Once someone is in the seat, the team that hired the individual plays a significant role in their success. How do these leaders set their interim hires up to get the job done?

“There is the team integration and the business integration [and] the CEO is the primary quarterback there, assuming it’s a direct report to the CEO,” he said. “But as far as project-managing the task list…that more often than not happens at our level.”

Steenhoek added two things that he believes are essential in these situations.

“I think really clear communication around what you need and alignment that they’re oriented and really focused on what you tasked them to do,” Steenhoek said. “The second is just being really clear on alignment related to, Are they interim? Are they permanent?”


BluWave is here to connect you with best-in-class, niche-specific interim executives to help with crisis management, leadership transitions, “try before you buy” and other relevant scenarios.

“Reach out to us at any point if we can ever be supportive with anything you all need,” Donnelly said. “We’re here to help you win.”

Contact our research and operations team to scope your needs and get quickly connected with the service provider you need in less than one business day.

What To Do When Your Service Provider is at Capacity

Connecting with a service provider you can trust is like looking for a great dentist. Once you find “the one,” you wouldn’t put your teeth in anyone else’s hands.

The same goes for your business. After a successful engagement with a trusted third party, you save a lot of time by contacting them directly the next time you have a need.

There are reasons you have go-to service providers: they’re fast, reliable and they know your business.

But if you love them so much, you’re probably not their only client. Far from it.

So what happens when you reach out and they tell you they simply don’t have the capacity to take on more work on the timeline you need? Or worse yet, they give you their B-team.

We’re glad you asked.

A man in a blue suit and white button-up with a tie, who's also wearing glasses, sitting across the desk from a woman

There are a number of reasons service providers could suddenly be in high demand. A bounce-back from a recession. A surge in deal flow. A hot new trend of which everyone’s trying to stay ahead.

When this happens, BluWave is on standby with a deep bench of trusted, PE-grade third parties who can deliver the exceptional work you expect no matter what your industry.

In fact, we experienced this post-COVID recovery when the whole world got back to business at once and it seemed like there wasn’t enough help to go around. At that time, we heard from dozens of private equity firms that couldn’t book their preferred third-party resource.

We helped those firms by connecting them with industry-specific firms and consultants that understood their business’s most pressing needs.

Every service provider in the Business Builders’ Network has gone through a rigorous vetting process, giving us confidence in every match we make whether it’s a first-time engagement or a repeat relationship.


BluWave founder and CEO Sean Mooney has three tips for organizations when their usual service providers are at full capacity.

1) Use Alternatives

“If you’re go-to is sold out, don’t try to force them into giving you capacity. You’ll get the C team,” Mooney says. “There are plenty of other comparable PE-grade specialists that you should use.”

2) Use Substitutes

“There are other diligence and value creation products that go by a different name but still serve your need,” he adds. “For instance, if you can’t get a commercial due diligence group to meet your deadline, use a voice of the customer group to do a deep dive on your target’s customers.”

3) Use Independent Consultants

“There’s a select world of independents who spun out of name-brand shops and can give you the same product at a fraction of the cost,” Mooney says. “This cohort works well not only for commercial diligence, but also for operational and HR diligence as well as value creation.”


Mooney recognizes that trusting your most important work to new partners can be scary. With the right introduction, though, the risk can have a huge payoff.

“Using new groups can be nerve-racking,” he says, “but the BluWave network of PE-grade resources is on standby to meet your specific needs.”

Whether your go-to service providers are at full capacity, or you just don’t know who to turn to, give our research and operations team a call. They’ll connect you with a shortlist of exact-fit third parties within a single business day, and be by your side until the completion of the project.

How BluWave Enabled Massive Turnaround of Family-Held Business

Service Area: Interim Executives (CFO and COO)

Client Type: Family-Owned Business

Service Provider Type: Specialized Interim Executives

Industry: Industrial Distribution and Services

The Need
Interim CFO, COO Team for Turnaround

A multi-generation family-owned business faced significant challenges due to declining financial performance and market dynamics. The company also suffered a cyberattack that exposed weaknesses in its IT infrastructure. Recognizing the need for help, ownership sought external expertise to guide them through a comprehensive turnaround.

The Challenge
Revitalizing Profitability, Building Value Creation Foundation

The business grappled with challenges related to its profitability and internal capacity. The cyberattack highlighted the urgency of implementing an effective IT infrastructure and strengthening the leadership team. An outside advisory board, hired by the family, immediately recommended that a multifunctional team with interim CFO and COO turnaround skills was crucial. The objective was to streamline operations, reduce costs and create a sustainable foundation for renewed growth in order to rebuild value for the family and company stakeholders. Trusted advisors introduced the family to BluWave.

How BluWave Helped
Proven Executive Duo a Perfect Match

BluWave sprung into action, first taking time to understand the unique situation and the factors needed for success. BluWave then swiftly matched the family business with a highly experienced interim CFO and COO duo from the BluWave Network who understood the complexities of the company’s industrial markets and possessed a background in turnaround and operational performance improvement. Because of the ready-to-go nature of the PE-grade, pre-vetted Business Builders’ Network, BluWave was able to introduce the perfect fit executives to the company’s family ownership within a single business day.

The Result
Accelerated Profitability, High-Valuation Sale

The transformative efforts led by the interim CFO and COO turnaround team resulted in significant improvements in profitability and operational efficiency. The company quickly took action to stabilize and reinvigorate revenue and optimize human capital, which increased EBITDA from approximately breakeven to more than $10 million in less than 18 months. The cultural shift toward performance and accountability empowered the employee base, enabling them to rise to the challenge and drive positive change throughout the organization. The family was then sold the business to a top private equity firm at a nine-figure valuation.

The collaborative partnership between the family, the interim CFO and COO combo and BluWave facilitated a comprehensive turnaround, leading to increased profitability, operational efficiency and a transformed organizational culture. The company continues to thrive under new leadership, supported by the foundation laid during the turnaround engagement. In fact, the current full-time CFO and the former turnaround interim CFO connected by BluWave keep in touch to this day.

There had to be a tremendous amount of change within the leadership team because we were driving a culture of change toward performance and profitability. They were invigorated by the accountability they saw and the opportunity, and they rose to that challenge.

-Turnaround Interim CFO