SELECTING A REGISTERED AGENT
Fulfilling the full duties of a registered agent requires advanced, robust compliance capabilities to protect your company against traps and pitfalls.
The field of available choices ranges from full-service Arizona providers to small formation vendors who also market themselves as registered agents. To accurately assess the agent’s capabilities, it’s necessary to “look under the hood.” Asking the following questions will reveal the registered agent’s capabilities, infrastructure, adherence to quality standards, and commitment to customer-centered values:
- Does the agent have the right resources deployed in the right places?
- Is the agent an expert in navigating the complex laws and nuances of each individual state jurisdiction?
- What is the agent’s track record for accuracy and timeliness?
- How responsive can the agent be to urgent, complex or unexpected situations?
- Is the agent proactively looking after the interests of your business?
- Does the agent reduce the time you personally need to spend on managing compliance?
The ability to be responsive to a range of compliance situations requires an experience, and a presence that’s physically located in Arizona. This helps ensure that the work is personally being handled by service representatives who are experienced with the local requirements and nuances of doing business, and who have long-term relationships with the staff in the Secretaries of State and other local officials.
Organizational indicators of an agent’s expertise include the service personnel’s cumulative years of experience. Their ongoing experience should also include internally certified training and testing. This documented expertise in managing risk provides a measure of assurance that customers’ compliance issues will be handled accurately. It also removes the burden from customers of needing to know every detail themselves. Even businesses with local or regional geographic operations will benefit from a registered agent with high levels of expertise.
Matters such as managing service of process and legal filings require absolute accuracy and timeliness. A registered agent must be prompt and efficient in discharging its duties.
This is a crucial area where these factors come together – relationships, experience and processes. A competent registered agent’s performance should be virtually invisible to a client on a day-to-day basis. It’s the urgent or crisis situations that differentiate a responsive, expert registered agent. This experience will eliminate concerns that a company’s legal right to do business could be in jeopardy during critical times.
A commercial registered agent should have a dedicated legal staff who monitors new legislation as it’s happening on your behalf. The agent should have processes in place to interpret and immediately alert customers to the nature of the changes, the key points and actions to be taken. An expert commercial registered agent will even lobby government agencies on behalf of their entire client base for pro-business legislation.
A commercial registered agent’s expertise should be apparent in both its people and in intelligent Web-based tools. This combination empowers customers to manage their compliance work with greater speed and quality. This frees the legal team to focus on strategic legal issues, rather than on the tactical necessities of compliance.
The registered agent’s functions have commonly been perceived as being limited to forwarding service of process and mail from the jurisdictions. As the scenarios in this white paper have shown, your registered agent is chief among your legal services partners to help you avoid the risks of non-compliance, which include involuntary dissolutions and default judgments.
In today’s budget-conscious climate, cost is naturally a consideration when selecting a registered agent. For multi-entity organizations, it’s helpful to frame this in terms of value vs. direct expenses. A full-service commercial registered agent provides the expert knowledge and infrastructure that you would otherwise have to maintain in your department. Their fees will typically be higher to reflect this. Providers offering lower fees typically provide less experience and narrower service capabilities.
This lack of resources can have a dramatic impact on the second type of cost to consider when choosing a registered agent – the un budgeted costs of correcting mistakes, paying unexpected penalties and compensating for necessary services not provided by the lower-priced agent. Additionally, there is the hidden costs of time lost to compliance tasks which would have more productively been spent on strategic issues. In the final analysis, you may find that the consequences of inadequate risk protection to be extremely costly over time.
By understanding the full scope of the services a commercial registered agent should provide, your organization can realize significant peace of mind and streamlining of operations. Choosing the right commercial registered agent can be the most efficient and cost-effective solution for managing compliance activities and reducing risk. An experienced full-service partner will perform their functions expertly, empowering you to stay focused on your core business and legal issues. In the long run, you should be able to rely on your registered agent to keep the way clear to support your business’ growth plans. If you’re getting anything less than this, you’re not getting full value for the fees you’re paying.