Arbolus Consulting Review

Have you been contacted by an associate from Arbolus Technologies via LinkedIn, email or phone call with an invitation to participate in a paid consulting engagement? Are you wondering if it’s a scam, or a legitimate opportunity? Here’s what to expect, and how to land high paying hourly consulting projects.

What is Arbolus Technologies?

Arbolus consulting logo

Arbolus is an expert network, a custom recruiting firm focused on connecting subject matter experts (SMEs) with institutional investor clients looking to better understand an industry, company, or product. Expert networks typically rely on LinkedIn and company websites to identify current & former employees, competitors, customers, and key opinion leaders who can add value to a client’s market research via their professional experience and opinions. A subject matter experts’ expertise is typically rapidly downloaded via a 45 minute to 1-hour call with the client. Working with Arbolus, and other expert networks, can be a lucrative alternative stream of income, requiring little to no preparation, that can be scheduled around your existing employment or other responsibilities.

Founded originally as CiQ Group in 2017, the firm was rebranded as Arbolus Technologies in 2019. Arbolus was founded by two managers from AlphaSights, Sam Glasswell and Will Leeming. The firm has been experiencing rapid growth, acquiring Waterside, another budding expert network, in 2019. The Barcelona-based firm also maintains offices in London and New York, and raised $6M in venture capital investment from Fuel Ventures and Plug & Play Ventures in 2021

Arbolus transcribes calls between clients and experts, adding them to a library that is available to its entire client base.  (Other emerging expert networks, such as Tegus, proSapient and Stream by Mosaic offer a similar product to clients.)  Experts do not receive additional compensation if clients access transcripts of their calls.

In addition to traditional expert network services, Arbolus operates a software platform called Hyperion that utilizes machine learning and NLP for higher quality and more efficient matching of clients and experts. Their platform allows clients to stay connected with experts they have worked with on previous projects, as well as access reviews and client call history for experts in order to develop a sense of trust and connectedness to expert connections.

Is Arbolus a scam— or a legitimate opportunity?

Arbolus— and expert networks in general— are not a scam. Expert networks are a $1.9B industry, and typically serve as a professional service for the financial services industry by sourcing subject matter experts for their clients. Arbolus serves a wide variety of clients, from start-ups & corporations to consultancies, hedge funds, and private equity.

Typically, associates from an expert network will use LinkedIn, or publicly available contact information such as email or phone number, to recruit potential experts for a project. You can optimize your LinkedIn profile to increase your chances of being recruited for a project by expert networks. Expert networks are an extension of the gig economy and are a great way to monetize your professional experience!

What to expect if you consult with Arbolus

Arbolus consulting reviews

Recruiters for expert networks rely heavily on LinkedIn to identify potential experts for a project based on their employment history. If, based on your LinkedIn profile, the associate believes you could be a good fit, they will reach out you with a brief introduction to themselves, their firm, and the project.

If you’re interested and think you could contribute to the topic, the associate will invite you to fill out a profile and questionnaire on their platform. The profile will cover all the basic questions about your employment history and expertise, in addition to project-specific vetting questions. For the vetting questions, you should know that the associate is not expecting the type of in-depth answer that the client would like to have in the call. Instead, your answers should be a sentence or two demonstrating your knowledge and ability to speak to the topics of interest. You will be asked to review a compliance document to make sure you understand that no propriety or confidential information can be shared during the call. You will also be able to set your rate and availability at this time.

The Arbolus associate will then submit your profile to the client for review. If the client chooses to move forward with your profile, you will receive a calendar invitation with dial-in information for the call. While the review and scheduling process usually takes only a few days, it can take up to two weeks. 

If you don’t receive a calendar invitation within a week or two, it’s safe to say your profile was not chosen. Don’t worry— now that your profile is in the Arbolus system, you’re more likely to be contacted for future projects. In the meantime, you can increase your chances of being chosen for a project by following these tips.

Arbolus Hourly Rates

Arbolus— and other expert networks— compensate you for your time and expertise spent on a client project. Sometimes, a starting rate will be communicated to you in the initial reach out. Othertimes, it will be communicated to you in subsequent reach outs. 

In general, you can expect the hourly rate to depend on a variety of factors, including the scarcity of your expertise (how many other experts can discuss the topic intelligently?), how far removed you are from the topic (how many years has it been since you were in the industry?), and how far you are in your career. 

For early career professionals, you can expect to be offered $100- $200; director level or similar professionals can expect $200-$300; anything above director level can easily command rates of $300- $500. Some experts can command fees of  $1000 or more an hour, however, these professionals are often expert network veterans who are at the top of hot or niche industries, or executives at Fortune 500 companies. You can also negotiate a higher rate for further calls.

Setting your rate exceptionally high can also dissuade a client from moving forward with your profile, even if you are a good fit for the project. This is most common in situations where there are many potential experts who can speak to a topic.

Most expert networks will compensate you based on the amount of time you are in the call. This means that even after you negotiate your hourly rate, if you are on the call for less than 60 full minutes, your fee will be pro-rated based on the number of minutes you are in the call with the client. Therefore, it’s best to keep the call going for as long as you can so you can maximize your fee. Similarly, you will be compensated for time spent on the call beyond the agree-upon hour. An extra 15 minutes on a call can easily translate to a higher fee via Arbolus!

How to ace your Arbolus consulting call

You should not feel the need to overly prepare for the call. The client is not expecting a deliverable or a presentation. The format is highly conversational, and you should be able to answer the questions easily based on years of experience in your industry. 

You can expect that the client has come prepared with specific questions as a result of their own in-depth research on the topic they’ve contracted you to speak on. Clients use expert networks to rapidly download industry knowledge (via your many years of experience!) in order to confirm or complicate their  understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment or strategic movement. The client has done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.

The types of clients you will encounter are will likely be institutional investors (strategy consulting firms, hedge funds, private equity funds, etc.), however, Arbolus also offers services to corporate and start-up clients. You should know that financial services clients are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary or confidential information. Client calls are likely always recorded by Arbulus in order to be made available to customers of their platform, so you can expect that the call will be reviewed internally to ensure compliance. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.

What’s Next?

Arbolus payments are made via ACH, wire, or physical check. You should be prompted to enter your payment information immediately after the call.

Now that you’re part of the network, you can use the Arbolus platform to participate in further calls by keeping your information up to date and periodically checking in.

If you have not yet been contacted by an Arbolus associate, you can register as an expert on their platform here.

Mosaic Research Management Review

Have you been contacted by an Associate from Mosaic Research Management with a request to participate in a paid consulting opportunity? Earning a high hourly rate for simply speaking on the phone with a client can sound too good to be true – are you worried it may be a scam?  Learn if this is a legitimate opportunity, what to expect, where to set your hourly rate and more in our Mosaic Research Management review.

What is Mosaic Research Management?

Mosaic Research Management logo

Mosaic Research Management is an expert network, a firm that specializes in the custom sourcing of subject matter experts for short-term consulting engagements. Expert networks are a $1.5 billion industry that aids institutional investors in their market research. Expert network opportunities generally take the form of a 1-hour phone consultation between the subject matter expert and the client, typically investment managers or management consultants.  

Clients turn to expert networks like Mosaic to quickly perform first-hand research on products, companies or markets for the people who know them best, such as former employees, customers, vendors, competitors, or other key influencers.  Working with expert networks is a great way to capitalize on your industry experience, enabling you to earn hundreds of dollars per hour by participating in concise and convenient consulting calls with their clients.

Mosiac is a mid-sized, New York-based expert network that provides various services in addition to the subject matter expert recruitment that is the industry standard: data services, and an expert network vendor management & aggregation tool, similar to proSapient.  The firm specializes in healthcare, travel & airlines, retail & consumer, web & online analytics, and social engagement.

Mosaic was founded in 2010 by former employees of Vista Research, an early pioneer in the industry that was taken down by an insider trading scandal in 2007 and which was later absorbed by Guidepoint.

Consulting with Mosaic Research Management

If you’ve been contacted by an associate from Mosaic, then it’s likely that you are a mid- to senior-level industry professional with specific company, product, or industry experience that matches what a client is looking for on a project.  Oftentimes, a Mosaic recruiter will reach out to you with a brief message via LinkedIn, though they will occasionally introduce themselves via email or a phone call as well.

You’ll usually be invited to have a brief conversation with the associate, where they’ll introduce you to Mosaic and provide a very high level overview of the project.  While they will share the topic of the project with you, you won’t know the client’s name until you’ve been selected for the project.  If you’re interested and it sounds like you may be a potential fit, the associate will ask you a few short vetting questions to gauge your qualifications, and just as importantly, ensure that you are eligible to participate without triggering any compliance concerns.

Here’s a breakdown of the basic eligibility criteria for project participation:

  • You are at least 6 months and no more than 3 years out of a job where you were a senior manager (Director level or higher) at a company their client is trying to learn more about.
  • You currently (or formerly) work for a competitor of a company the client is looking to learn more about.
  • You are currently or were formerly a customer of a product or company the client is looking to learn more about.

The associate isn’t looking to learn about what you’ll share about the project’s topic, they want to make sure that you match with the client’s requirements.  If it seems like you may fit the bill, they will then ask you to set your Mosaic hourly rate (more on that in a moment!), provide your upcoming availability and create a profile.

Behind the scenes, the associate will present your profile, rate and screening question responses to the client.  If they client selects you for the project, they associate will usually send you a calendar invite for your client call.  Note that industrywide, it’s typical to only be selected for about one-third of the projects that you apply to.  So, even if you don’t get chosen for this project, participating in the initial vetting process registers your profile in their system and increases the likelihood you will be selected for future projects.

Stream by Mosaic

Stream by Mosaic invitation to consult

Mosaic also operated an unusual subscription business to expert interview transcripts called Mosaic Stream up until October 2021, when it sold the business to business information service AlphaSense (not to be confused with the large expert network AlphaSights).  AlphaSense has rebranded the business as Stream by Mosaic, describing it as the, “the broadest of single database of [recorded and transcribed expert calls] with dozens of transcripts added daily and with hundreds of investment firms relying on the insights they contain.”

I was invited to participate in Mosaic Stream earlier in 2021 and do not recommend participating in this program in its current form.

Rather than speak with a client for Mosaic Stream, your call is instead with a third party analyst.  The call is recorded and transcribed, then made available to Mosaic’s client base.  The analyst that I recorded with call with was engaging and well-prepared; my conversation flowed like a typical expert network call.

Experts are not paid for participating in Mosaic Stream calls, though the analyst is compensated for interviewing you.  According to the invitation I received from Mosaic, “This conversation with our partner analyst is intended to allow you to market your expertise to a group of Mosaic’s clients who value speaking with experts about [the target company and industry].”

I didn’t receive any follow up updates from Mosaic Stream following the call.  I wasn’t provided with any information on how Mosaic ‘marketed’ me as an expert, and several months passed before I was invited to participate in another project (which isn’t atypical of my experience with Mosaic).  I contributed a piece of content to Mosaic Stream’s high-priced content library without receiving any compensation or perceived benefit.  (Note that Tegus, Arbolus and proSapient offer similar transcript subscription products where you are paid for all consulting calls.)

Mosaic Consulting Rates

Consulting rates for expert networks vary widely and are determined by a variety of factors, such as the seniority and how recent your relevant title is, how niche the industry is, and demand for your insight. In general, you can expect to be offered a Mosaic consulting rate of $100 – $200  per hour if you are a director level or below, $200 – $350 or above for director-level professional, and $500+ for senior executives and physicians. 

While these rates are pretty standard, you should know that you can renegotiate your rate if you find you are getting inundated by project participation requests. Many C-level executives with a history of successful calls command rates of $500. Some in-demand experts (think Fortune 500 executives, former government officials or specialized surgeons) charge as much as $1,000 – $1,500 a call, but you should know that it is not common and demanding a super high rate right away will likely mean your profile will never be sent to the client. 

It’s important to keep in mind that your Mosaic hourly rate will be pro-rated based on the amount of time that spend on the phone with the client, so it’s in your best interest to keep the conversation flowing freely. If the client is eager to learn more and asks you to extend the call by 10 or 15 minutes, you may easily earn an extra $50 or $100.  Conversely, calls that take less than an hour are pro-rated downwards.  Expert network calls typically last 45 minutes to an hour.

Acing Your Mosaic Consulting Call

Ready for showtime?  Your client call will often happen just a few days after you received the initial invitation.  Mosaic will send you information on a conference call line.  Most expert network calls continue to be voice-only – so no need to dress up or find a professional-looking background – but do be sure to find a quiet place to talk with a stable phone or internet connection.

The client will open the call with a brief introduction, an overview of their objectives, and will then take the lead in steering the conversation.  They are looking to rapidly download your knowledge in order to confirm or refute their understanding of a company, industry, or product of interest in order to perform due diligence prior to making an investment. The client has usually done extensive research beforehand and it should make for an interesting conversation.

The types of clients you will encounter are will be institutional investors (strategy consulting firms, hedge funds, private equity funds, etc.) and are bound by strict compliance policies that prevent them from soliciting proprietary or confidential information. This policy should also be laid out to you in a document prior to the call, so you understand what you can and cannot discuss in the call. It’s rare that you’ll be asked to share any non-public information, and you should decline to answer any questions you feel moves into this territory; clients won’t press you to share things that you shouldn’t.

You should not feel the need to overly prepare for the call. The client is not expecting a deliverable or a presentation. The format is highly conversational, and you should be able to answer the questions easily based on the years of experience that you have in your role and industry.

What’s Next?

One of the best part of consulting with Mosaic Research is that once you hang up the phone, your work is done.  There is no follow-up or deliverables, and Mosaic will pay you via direct deposit within a week or two. 

Now that you’re part of the Mosaic expert network, don’t be surprised if you are regularly contacted for many more projects. Expert networks are a great way to capitalize on your industry experience.

If you haven’t already been contacted by Mosaic Research Management about a project, you can get on their radar and create a profile by reaching out an an associate at [email protected]

How an Insider Trading Scandal Nearly Killed GLG (and the Entire Expert Network Industry)

It’s not surprising that investors are willing to pay $1,000 or more per hour to expert networks to gather insights on multi-million dollar investment decisions. This is the essence of investment research, and it’s what professional investors are paid to do. 

GLG insider trading

But any time that big money and high stakes are involved, the temptation to step into the grey area – or fully across the line – will be too much for some people to resist. And that’s a line that needs to be carefully navigated, since on the other side is insider trading, two words guaranteed to kill the mood and conversation at any party involving financial folks.

The official definition of insider trading is divulging information that is both non-public and material. In other words, information that would affect the stock price if it were publicly known.

As we’ll see, you’ll have ample opportunity to get acquainted with the ins-and-outs of what is legal and illegal before you reach the stage of having to part with any information under the auspices of an expert consulting agreement.

It’s important to stress that expert consulting is not a “minefield” when it comes to this sort of issue. Expert networks facilitate over a million client calls per year, and compliance breaches are extremely rare. 

Once you are familiar with the rules, it’s not difficult to follow them, and almost everyone involved does. Especially clients, who if anything have more on the line than the experts, as they are playing with their company’s reputation.

All that said, it’s also important to know the example of what happens when people ignore this advice. 

The following story (covered at length in this New Yorker article) not only ruined the lives and reputations of the expert and client involved, but also threatened the very existence of the expert consulting industry.

If you don’t want to end up as Pulitzer-fodder, read on!

SAC Insider Trading Scandal Ropes in GLG

Up to 2012, although there had been some rumblings in the press about insider trading cases tied to consultants at expert networks such as Primary Global, the expert consulting industry as a whole, and in particular its largest player, GLG.  Still, the nascent industry had largely avoided both scandal and scrutiny during its first decade of rapid growth.

Then came the court case that the press dubbed the greatest hedge fund scandal of all time, that still ranks highly among the exploits of Bernie Madoff and the fall of Galleon Group. And unfortunately, GLG was – if not at the center – very firmly in the vicinity when the proverbial hit the fan.

The historic debacle that unfolded in 2012 involved hedge fund trader Mathew Martoma (the client) and Dr. Sidney Gilman (the expert).

Martoma had been working as a portfolio manager at CR Intrinsic, which was affiliated with SAC Capital, a giant investment firm known for its stellar returns, whose boss, Steven A. Cohen, is the current owner of the Mets, and the inspiration behind the character of Bobby Alexrod in “Billions”.

The case hinged upon a relationship the trader Martoma built with the clinician Gilman over the course of more than 40 consultations relating to a new Alzheimer’s drug, then in the trial phase. The press reported that Gilman earned over $100k from the consultations, charging a rate of $1,000 per hour.

The drug in question had shown promise in its initial tests, drawing considerable interest from the investment community. Later, disappointing results led to a decline in the stock price of the firms involved. In other words, access to foreknowledge about the drug’s progress at each stage could definitely be classified as ‘material’.

The FBI accosted Martoma at his home several years later, and confronted him with information they had gathered about his past, which included evidence that he had illegally obtained proprietary information in his former dealings with Gilmen.

Gilman, who was involved in leading the drug trials, later testified that he had indeed divulged non-public data during the consulting sessions regarding trial outcomes while speaking with Martoma. 

Martoma, in turn, had allegedly used the information gathered from his calls with Gilman to make his firm $276 million in profits by speculating on shares of Elan and Wyeth, the firms behind the new drug.

The official SEC complaint made it clear that the expert network for whom Gilman was working (in this case GLG, whose name was not mentioned explicitly) was not at fault, and that both Gilman and Martoma had circumvented the network’s compliance procedures by, amongst other things, deliberately misrepresenting the discussion topics of their meetings.

Apart from anything else, Gilman had violated the terms of the confidentiality agreement, in which he stated that he would ‘share only information that is openly available’. GLG also provided email evidence in which they had explicitly told Gilman that Alzheimer trials were out-of-bounds for discussion with Martoma.

So how did it all go wrong? 

The calls were not recorded, and so we will never exactly know. All we have is the testimony of Gilman, who stated that it was difficult in retrospect to identify the precise moment in the relationship when the line was crossed. Using his words, at some point the answers just ‘slipped out’.

While Martoma and SAC both maintained that no illegal actions had taken place, Martoma was the eighth employee of SAC to be charged with Insider Trading. A federal investigation later concluded that the culture of SAC not only tolerated but encouraged the gathering of inside information. 

Upon conviction, Martoma’s assets were seized to settle a part of the multi-million dollar fine, and he began a nine-year sentence in federal prison, from which he was released earlier this year. Dr. Gilman resigned from his position at the University of Michigan, and his name was scrubbed from the institution’s records, including the hospital wing that had been named after him. 

Expert Network Compliance Expands in Response to Insider Trading Scandals

The resulting exposure clearly had the potential to inflict long-term harm on the reputation of expert networks, and GLG in particular. It may have seemed, briefly, that the future of the industry was in doubt. 

As it turned out, this was not the case. GLG turned a potentially bad situation around, not only by redoubling its compliance efforts to ensure that similar incidents would be preventable, but also by diversifying its focus, brand and client base beyond Wall Street and into Fortune 500 companies and major law firms. The industry as a whole has followed their lead by making rigorous expert network compliance screening, training and monitoring a cornerstone of their product offerings.

The key takeaway for us is that compliance procedures are not – repeat, *not* – a meaningless formality! They are there to protect the reputations, livelihood, and integrity of everyone involved.

There are guidelines that each network will have in place that govern client-expert relationships. Here are some example guidelines from GLG’s compliance framework:

  • Employees may not engage in projects about their own company
  • Employees may not consult with known competitors of their company
  • Extensive or ongoing projects, which may ‘entail a deeper relationship with clients’ are subject to a special qualification process.

More generally, the rules and procedures that expert networks put in place typically include:

  • Who can and cannot participate in projects where conflicts of interest might be present
  • Topics that certain consultants may and may not address in consultations with certain clients
  • Training for both clients and consultants in all relevant protocols and guidelines.
  • Tools to assist compliance departments (e.g. call transcriptions and recordings) and provide documentation to protect those involved in case of a subsequent allegation.

You will likely be required to sign and annually re-affirm a document that states you have reviewed any agreements you are subject to and are permitted to take part in expert consulting, and that you will decline to take part in any project that would violate these agreements. 

The onus is partially therefore on you to pre-vet any engagements that may turn out to have conflicts of interest involved, although the network is obviously incentivized to help you identify them.

Annual, sector-specific training may well also be mandatory, whereby you will reacquaint yourself with what constitutes confidential information in your area of expertise. This will help to hone your spider senses for any edge cases you might come across.

Separately, the network will be liaising with the client and making it as easy as possible for their own compliance departments to pinpoint potential issues with candidates.

Above all, if you suspect that you are being asked to provide non-public, material information, you should always err on the side of safety: politely end the call, and notify the network. Many networks, including GLG, will incentivize you to act conservatively in this way by reimbursing you for the full-time slot.

Expert Network Compliance Training and Monitoring Helps Keep Everyone Out of Trouble

It is incredibly rare for compliance failures to occur – let alone criminal activity – in the ordinary course of expert network consulting.

You will likely never face a situation where you feel pressured to give confidential information. This is for the very simple reason that clients are subject to the same insider trading laws as everyone else, and crossing the line is not worth the risk. Most firms also make a heavy investment in compliance, which in turn place a heavy scrutiny on expert network calls to keep both the firm and its employees out of trouble.

As with all things, it comes down to a combination of knowledge and common sense. Learn what you can and can’t share on an expert network call. Take your training, trust your senses, and when in doubt, play it safe.