Best Choice: A Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Best Choice: A Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

To survive and thrive in a competitive marketplace, companies need to secure help and guidance from a wide range of sources. To do so, many companies create advisory boards, or more formally, a board of directors to help guide them and hopefully facilitate growth. If your company plans to go public, it will be required to put a board of directors in place. However, prior to that time, you may be faced with the decision as to whether to create a board of directors or an advisory board.

To determine which path makes most sense for your organization, here are some of the primary differences between a board of directors and an advisory board:

Chart_advisory board vs. board of Directors

Regardless of which path your company chooses to pursue, there are best practices that can apply to both options. Consider the following:

1. Choose wisely. To avoid “group think”, where people tend to think along similar paths, don’t engage individuals that possess experience and views that are similar to the CEO and executive management. Look outside your immediate network. Diversity of experience and thought can be translated into a competitive advantage. A prospective board member should have:

  • A track record of success.
  • High ethical standards that they are not willing to compromise.
  • Industry knowledge or a willingness to gain the appropriate knowledge.
  • Sufficient time to dedicate to the role.

2. Identify today’s challenges. Before forming a board of any type, take stock of where the company is today, as well as the future aspirations and challenges it will face. For example, if your company plans to enter a foreign market within the next year, it makes sense to include an individual with this type of experience on your board.

3. Don’t over or under build. It is possible to have too many members in either type of board, and it is also possible to have a board that is too small to bring about change. Many corporate governance experts recommend that in order to be effective and accomplish all of a traditional board’s legally mandated responsibilities, seven to nine board members are needed.
An advisory board can certainly be smaller than a traditional board and still be effective since it is less formal in structure and nature. In either event, first identify the company’s challenges and the skills needed to address them, and then choose the optimal number of members. A small, yet ineffective board is just as problematic as a large, overstaffed board.

4. Focus at the committee level. In the case of a board of directors, there are typically three to four crucial committees — audit, compensation, nomination, and executive. Each committee should have a clear mandate and meet regularly to discuss the issues it is charged with addressing.

As you can see, there are significant differences between a board of directors and an advisory board. By examining them, you can decide what type of board is best for your business. Keep in mind that an advisory board offers many of the benefits associated with a board of directors. Depending on the size and maturity of your company, it may be the most viable option to pursue.

About Author


MKS&H is committed to providing personalized tax and accounting services while developing a deep understanding of you, your culture, and your business goals. Our full view of financial systems and the people behind them allow us create and evolve the best solution that will help you and your business thrive. The accounting experts and consulting professionals at MKS&H work together to help you achieve the financial results you want.

Related posts

Planning for small business financials.

10 Tips for Managing Small Business Finances

Navigating the financial landscape of a small business requires both astute management skills and a keen understanding of operational needs. Amid economic fluctuations and evolving market demands, proprietors must wield effective strategies to maintain robust fiscal health. Ensuring the survivability and growth of a small business often hinges on...

Read More

Why Every Business Needs a Professional Accountant

Managing accounting complexities can be challenging for both businesses and individuals. The expertise of a professional accountant is essential, providing critical guidance and support for financial stability and growth. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) offers the specialized knowledge and experience required to address even the most difficult financial scenarios....

Read More