Receive a paid consulting request from Guidepoint and wondering if it’s a legitimate opportunity and what to expect? Our Guidepoint review will help you learn about the expert network consulting process, where to set your hourly rate, and how to land more projects with one of the largest firms in the industry.
What is Guidepoint?
Labelled as the “experts at finding expertise,” Guidepoint Global Advisors is a world leader in the burgeoning expert network industry. Alongside top firms like GLG and AlphaSights, Guidepoint operates on an international scale that significantly expanded after its 2015 acquisition of the German-based company Innosquared. Guidepoint has has over 1,000 employees spread across 16 offices on four continents. The company boasts that it has over 1 million subject matter experts in its networks (though only a small portion of that number has worked on a project for the company.)
Founded in 2003 by chemist Albert Sebag under the name Clinical Advisors, the company initially focused on the healthcare industry before expanding into other sectors. Rebranding as Guidepoint Global (and later simply Guidepoint), the New York-based business quickly opened branches worldwide, including in New Jersey, Connecticut, San Francisco, Boston, London, Düsseldorf, Athens, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo. Guidepoint connects business clients in a wide range of industries to advisors who can offer business insights via direct, private phone consultations or through surveys that provide information to drive decision-making.
Expert Networks – a rapidly growing $2 billion industry
Expert networks comprise a rapidly growing and highly profitable industry that’s approaching $2 billion in annual revenue, yet few people know that it exists! Businesses demand a high level of discretion when seeking help from outsiders since they don’t want to give away clues about their strategies or problems. But expert networks have existed for decades, flourishing and gaining more exposure with the rise of the Internet.
Their business model is simple. An expert network identifies areas where businesses could use knowledge-based support; then, it sources applicable subject matter experts. Next, from its talent pool it draws suitable consultants to connect to its business clients’ projects. These expert advisors charge a set fee to advise clients on their respective issues. Meanwhile, in exchange for arranging the consultations, the expert network company charges a markup to the advisor’s consulting fees.
Who uses expert networks? Mainly investors or corporate management consultants looking for extra guidance to do their jobs. Why do these individuals need such counsel? Because, if you think about it, a single business decision can impact a company’s trajectory for years. In a worst-case scenario, a wrong move could lead to bankruptcy, but a savvy move at the right time could potentially launch earnings into the stratosphere. Either way, it’s well worth the investment for clients to utilize outside experts’ services, even if a call runs into the hundreds or thousands of dollars per hour!
What should you expect on a Guidepoint consulting call?
Do advisors really make hundreds of dollars or more just for a phone call? Yes, many do. As mentioned, Guidepoint’s primary service is a “direct, private conversation between a client and an appropriate subject matter expert.” So if you’re selected to join their network, what would a phone call be like for such an expert network project? Calls usually go one of three ways:
Deep dive — The client might be an investor in need of a “deep dive” that provides intel on a given company’s potential for growth or the negative consequences of problems it could be facing.
Industry overview — Companies often solicit expert opinions on the bigger picture, so they can gain a broad overview of an industry’s landscape before making any crucial decisions.
Consulting with consultants — Many companies maintain in-house consultants or they work with agencies, but there is always room for additional insights for targeted issues that need resolution. Consultants often reach out to chat with subject matter experts who have no skin in the game and thus can offer objective guidance.
Keep in mind, all calls are confidential and must comply with strict legal and ethical standards related to such discussions. For example, an advisor cannot divulge protected insider information, nor can customers ask for such non-releasable data. You can learn what’s permissible to discuss or not on Guidepoint’s FAQ page. To learn more about the types of consult calls you might be asked to do, check out our Ultimate Expert Network Guide, which covers the main types of calls in greater detail!
Do I qualify as a subject matter expert?
What does it take to qualify as a subject matter expert? There’s no hard answer to that question! If you worked for a specific company or within a particular industry for several years, you probably gained a certain level of knowledge and expertise that others might be willing to pay for. But then again, that would make many of us “experts,” right? Yes, it would!
Guidepoint serves clients in an extensive range of sectors, so they need an equal variety of experts to advise those clients. They vet every applicant, keeping note of specialized skills and roles from the applicant’s background. Then, when a client submits a project, Guidepoint draws up a pool of potential advisors from their applicable pool and lets the client decide who to try. The point is, let them decide if you are “expert” enough.
If you’re worried about “imposter syndrome,” don’t! It might seem odd at first to be getting paid just to talk on the phone, but people just like you do it every day, raking in a nice side income. You know a lot more than you think you do…and certainly a lot more than a client who just started diving into this topic a week ago. There are so many things that are rote to you in your day job that simply blow clients’ minds.
Remember, hardly any clients are operators. They’re investors or management consultants who don’t really know how things are done and are parachuting in to quickly get the real scoop from people who deal with the topic they are researching day-in and day-out!
A good rule of thumb is that if you could give a quality 30 minute presentation about something, you’re probably qualified to consult as an expert on that topic.
How do I set my Guidepoint consulting rates?
Guidepoint hourly consulting rates vary widely, based upon the expert’s specialty and level of experience as well as supply and demand for the project. Professionals who are early in their career will generally be slotted at $100 – $200 per hour, while mid-career professionals at the Vice President level or higher can often command $400 – $700 per hour. Elite level experts, such as C-level executives at major companies, specialized physicians or former government officials can achieve hourly rates of $1,000 or more!
Your rate can impact how often you are selected for projects, as Guidepoint associates tend be highly focused on managing profit margin. For projects where a large number of qualified experts is easy to find, such as administrators of popular collaboration software, you’re less likely to be selected with a high Guidepoint hourly rate. However, for projects where there are few qualified experts, such as former marketing executives at a company that recently had an IPO, there are few eligible experts and you have good latitude to name your price.
Remember, Guidepoint’s clients aren’t “bargain hunting!” They’re coming to Guidepoint because they need precious insights and are willing to pay a premium for them. It’s a logical return on investment if the information they learn informs a better decision that could save or make them money.
Guidepoint also offers a high volume of paid industry surveys, which generally take 10 – 20 minutes to complete and pay between $40 – $80.
What are the downsides to consulting for Guidepoint?
Are there honestly any downsides to earning hundreds of dollars an hour for a phone call? Not many! But of course, the most obvious is that this is a competitive business. Guidepoint’s network is already packed with highly qualified advisors (~800,000 and growing) working in over 190 countries. Some of them get a lot more work than others.
Consulting for Guidepoint (or any expert network) isn’t a regular job with guaranteed hours. You put in your application and hope it matches with clients’ project needs. If it does, you won’t be the only one that matches with it, so you’ll have to spend 5 – 10 minutes to submit a proposal or answer a few screening questions.
It can be frustrating if your proposals aren’t getting replies, but consultants with the most success are the ones who adapt and keep trying. Yes, it’s sometimes a case of “feast or famine,” so don’t quit your day job! You might go months without a bite, then suddenly find yourself hit with a handful of gigs close together, especially if you have experience in an unexpectedly hot industry or company.
When it comes to Guidepoint’s reviews by current and former advisors, opinions are all over the place. Many reviews on Glassdoor lambast the company as a “scam,” while others offer rave reviews. It could be a matter of some workers not landing enough projects, even if they are getting matched and submitting proposals.
Meanwhile, some consultants love it, even though they wish there were more work.
How can I win more Guidepoint Global consulting projects?
If there is a magic formula to winning projects, it’s something like this: Qualification + Persuasiveness = Work.
If you aren’t qualified for a particular project, don’t apply and you can avoid disappointment. If you are qualified but cannot convince them, you might need to work on your writing skills to get more projects!
Most of Guidepoint’s business comes from the following sectors:
- Consumer Goods and Services
- Energy, Industrials, Basic Materials
- Financial and Business Services
- Legal and Regulatory
- Tech, Media, and Telecom
When Guidepoint vets and accepts new candidates, you enter a talent pool. When clients submit projects, Guidepoint staff search around in the pool to find relevant qualified candidates to suggest. If you’re suggested, a client might scan your information, or you may get a chance to answer a few questions as they screen for the most suitable advisor.
Having an optimized, keyword-enriched profile will make you stand out if they peek at that. Providing thoughtful, value-added responses to screeners will help you seal the deal. It takes a bit of work upfront to get chosen, but consider it a return on investment. The more legwork you do to stand out from the crowd, the more you up your odds.
Over time, as you get picked up more frequently, you’ll establish your positive reputation on their platform. That credibility will, in turn, lead to more work! That’s why expert networks are sometimes described as “feast or famine.” Once you get some momentum, it’s easier to keep it going.
Guidepoint’s Advisors page lists further information on how it sources and matches experts to clients in over 150 countries. With a 90%+ client retention rate, they’re very careful to keep customers satisfied! If you land a few projects, but then suddenly the lines go cold, it could mean that even though you’re matching with clients, you aren’t giving them everything they need, and it’s impacting your feedback. You must make customer service a top priority and treat your consulting as a tiny business. And, of course, you have to be providing value during the calls. The better your reviews, the more likely you are to keep getting gigs!
What types of consulting projects does Guidepoint take on?
Guidepoint offers more than just phone consults; they can provide teleconference meetings for broader insight delivery, as well as conduct surveys, offer data products, or even legal services. But calls are what they’re often known for, so let’s explore those a bit more before moving onto the broader service catalog.
Guidepoint works with consulting firms, corporations, hedge funds, professional services, private equity firms, and law firms, connecting them with professional advisors for calls that may last an hour or more. Every client request is unique, but they generally fall within one of the three main types we talked about earlier, i.e., company deep dives, industry overviews, or consultations with other consultants.
There are strict rules in place to avoid legal or ethical breaches. You can read more about the conservative compliance guidelines on the Guidepoint Compliance and FAQ pages. For example, Guidepoint instructs advisors to decline any invitation to consult concerning their current employer. However, if there is no confidentiality agreement in place, advisors could discuss suppliers or customers of their current employer.
Clients will steer the conversation, but you as the consultant are legally obligated to comply with all of Guidepoint’s rules regarding information disclosure (and don’t worry, they’ll make sure you are fully aware of the rules and you’ll sign your concurrence before starting!). Indeed, advisors must end consults that violate compliance rules, and will be compensated for the entire scheduled time if that ever happens.
Besides staying within the boundaries of these rules, you should answer questions to the best of your ability. If the call goes longer than an hour, so be it. You’ll get compensated per minute, so try to keep the knowledge flowing!
Other Client Services
Guidepoint utilizes analyst teams to offer their branded Insights services through client teleconferences, live roundtable events, or group meetings timed with conferences or tradeshows. Other offerings include surveys, polls, “Qsight” data products, and legal solutions. Most of these are not typically areas where contracted advisors will play a role; however, once you get on board, who knows what you might be tagged for once you’ve established a name for yourself with the platform!
Is Guidepoint Global Advisors legit or is this a scam?
Guidepoint Global Advisors is one of the largest and most established firms in the $2 billion expert network industry. If you received a LinkedIn message, email or phone call inviting to participate in a paid consulting opportunity with Guidepoint, you should treat it as a legitimate opportunity and not a potential scam. (As with any stranger approaching you online, it is still prudent to confirm that the sender isn’t impersonating or spoofing a Guidepoint employee. Note that Guidepoint will never ask you to pay them to participate in a consulting opportunity.)
Guidepoint is a legitimate business with offices around the globe and roughly 3,250 current clients, of which 200+ are hedge funds, 100+ are private equity firms, and 100+ are public companies.
Guidepoint vets applicants to ensure high-quality talent is joining their network and adding value to customers. Applicants must complete a training tutorial and agree to a list of Conservative Rules before talking to clients. They also suggest a review of their Summary of Key Rules and Terms and Conditions.
Once subject matter experts are screened and trained, they’re eligible for Guidepoint to start matching them up with potential client projects! There is zero promise of work, and applicants should set expectations accordingly. As we’ve seen above in the reviews, naturally consultants get frustrated and might leave negative reviews if they aren’t snagging gigs. But keep in mind, that is probably just those reviewers venting. It’s not evidence of Guidepoint being a “scam.” It is a legitimate entity that has created a competitive free market environment where eligible consultants can potentially thrive if they have applicable knowledge and experience and know how to convey that fact to potential clients.
If earning hundreds of dollars to talk with customers on the phone seems like something you’d like to try, we think Guidepoint is an excellent place to start! They describe exactly what they’re looking for on their advisor welcome page: “Guidepoint Advisors is an exclusive network of academic and industry professionals who consult with business decision-makers and leading investors around the world. Guidepoint Advisors enjoys a reputation for excellence. We are actively seeking the most qualified practitioners and thought leaders to join our network.”
If that describes you, head over and fill out your application. You’ll never know how much you can earn unless you try!