Choosing your M&A escrow partner

Finding the right escrow services team for your M&A transactions is more important than ever. Here’s what to look for as you choose an escrow partner.

Tags: Best practices, KYC, Escrow, M&A
Published: December 11, 2019

For merger and acquisition attorneys, working with a top-notch escrow services partner is key. Given the extensive time and effort that goes into negotiating and closing an M&A deal, attorneys need an escrow partner that they can depend on and is deeply aligned with their needs, concerns and priorities.


Here’s how you can evaluate the most important traits of a successful escrow services provider to find the right partner for your unique needs.


Easy accessibility

It’s important to find a service provider who is easy to work with. A strong escrow services team should operate smoothly and seamlessly so that you don’t have to worry about the details.


Teresa Caspary, senior vice president and national leader for escrow at U.S. Bank Global Corporate Trust, has experience with what M&A attorneys are looking for in a provider. “They want a team that is easy to work with on document language, speedy response, accuracy and availability,” Caspary says. Document negotiation difficulties may slow down the process, so it’s important to find a team that has reasonable language requirements and can finish the job quickly.


Extended availability

In the modern business world, days rarely end at 5 p.m. “M&A attorneys work long hours, so having a team that is available when they are working outside of normal business hours is incredibly valuable to them,” says Joel Bernazzani, vice president, product management and strategy at U.S. Bank Global Corporate Trust.


No matter the scope or complexity of the M&A deal you’re working on, you should be able to face tight timelines with confidence, knowing that a team of experts is standing by to provide knowledge, guidance and end-to-end service support.


KYC simplicity

Knowing your customer (KYC) rules can present a laborious task in the onboarding process. Especially given the regulations of the last several years, keeping in compliance with federal KYC rules can be burdensome. That’s why it’s crucial to find a partner with an efficient, simplified process to help keep your deals moving forward.


Shareholder portal convenience

When searching for an escrow services provider, Caspary and Bernazzani note the importance of considering the shareholder experience for the companies you represent. The ability of shareholders to receive payments quickly and safely is essential  for all parties.


“Ultimately, attorneys want to provide their clients with the best service provider and experience, and they can do that by making it easier for their clients to receive their payments,” Caspary says.


Experience, expertise and insight

Even if your escrow services provider offers after-hours availability and a user-friendly client portal, you may not be confident in their ability to execute if they lack experience.


According to Caspary, working with a less experienced team may increase the potential for inaccurate disbursements and slow turnaround times. “Attorneys are largely the people deciding on who their escrow agent is. To ensure that their deals close smoothly and their clients remain happy, they need to select an experienced escrow agent.”


Comprehensive solutions

Finally, when searching for an escrow partner, make sure they offer the entire suite of services you’ll need to execute your deals. The ideal escrow partner should create efficiencies for you and your counsel through their expertise, responsive end-to-end execution and extensive resources. Working with a single touch point throughout the escrow process can save you time and effort while ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. A quality escrow service partner should provide:

  • Indemnity holdback and working capital adjustment escrows
  • Prompt, efficient onboarding with straightforward KYC diligence
  • Responsive document review
  • Secure shareholder portal
  • Specialized in-house paying and exchange agent group providing tailored solutions
  • Tax reporting – 1099


Before you choose an escrow partner, be sure to ask whether they can handle every step of the transaction for you. This makes for a smoother, faster experience, with less chance of anything falling through the cracks.



At U.S. Bank, we offer comprehensive solutions for all your M&A escrow needs. From the unrivaled availability and experience of our specialized team to our continuous investments in technology solutions, we’re here to help your deal close smoothly, securely and on time. Learn more about our escrow services.