DirectorConnector.com: Free Online Director-Matching Service targeting South Central Wisconsin is Launched

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information:

Matt Storms
Phone: (608) 257-3501
e-mail: [email protected]

Ronald Kral
Phone: (608) 204-0122
[email protected]

Madison, Wis. – The law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP is teaming up with the accounting firm of Candela Solutions LLC, to form DirectorConnector.com (www.directorconnector.com), a free online service that will link both for-profit and nonprofit organizations to people interested in serving on boards ranging from advisory to statutory.

The idea for DirectorConnector.com resulted from market research conducted in the Spring of 2004 by Candela Solutions. An online survey was sent to over 400 business and community leaders in Southern Wisconsin resulting in a surprisingly high 50% response rate. The vast majority of survey respondents were supportive and interested in the development of an online tool to help bring board candidates and organizations together. According to Ronald Kral, a partner with Candela Solutions in Madison, “The response was a strong market endorsement that organizations rely on their board to add value and many were having difficulty identifying potential directors with the right skill-set. Informal networks or search firms were not necessarily the most cost-efficient or effective means to fill a board.”

DirectorConnector’s founders believe they will offer significant efficiencies and benefits through a large online database of candidates that is searchable by categories such as core competencies, credentials, and prior industry and board experience. “We thought it was important for our area to organize a free service that enables prospective board members and organizations to connect,” says Matt Storms, a partner in the business group at Michael Best & Friedrich. “While our site will not replace informal networks for finding the right people to serve on boards, it will supplement those efforts and, in some instances, provide a more timely, cost-efficient option. We believe that the DirectorConnector website will be especially valuable in bringing together individuals with unique backgrounds and experiences with organizations that need a specific expertise or perspective on their boards.” National trends show that the importance of having qualified directors is as great as ever, with the demands on directors’ time increasing. A survey of 875 board directors conducted by Corporate Board Member magazine show that nearly 86% believe good governance improves a company’s image, while just fewer than 47% say it benefits the company’s stock price. The same survey found that monthly board duties have increased from an average of 14.1 hours per month in 2002 to 19 hours a month in 2003. Along with this increase of demands, there has been an influx of brand new board members as the pool of traditional directors shrinks. Independent directors are also in strong demand. According to Kral, “This is especially evident for specialized skills such as financial experts for audit committees, or IT wizards for technology committees or the policy board to help guide management with critical decisions. Organizations are looking for fresh outside perspectives.”

Despite the increase in demand for new board members, director responsibilities have never been greater. Recent court decisions and a swell of investor and constituent pressure for good governance have confirmed that privately held and nonprofit companies should govern themselves in accordance with many of the higher standards now required for public companies under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The rewards of a strong board can be significant both personally and to the organization. A recent McKinsey & Co. report suggests that investors will pay a premium of 18-27% for well-governed companies, and there is also evidence suggesting that companies can lower their cost of capital as a direct result of good corporate governance. This can translate into nice returns for board members who have stock or stock options. DirectorConnector.com is currently in the registration phase and is accepting information from potential board candidates and organizations. The site will launch its search and match functionality by the end of January. This will provide the ability to search nonprivate fields in the DirectorConnector database and facilitate for the electronic exchange of private information upon mutual consent between candidates and organizations. Privacy will be a major emphasis of the site.About DirectorConnector.com DirectorConnector.com (www.directorconnector.com) is an electronic database service to link potential directors with organizations of all types. Organizations recognize that experience and strong corporate governance are critical components in the ultimate success of their business or mission. DirectorConnector.com provides an efficient medium for the business and nonprofit communities to exchange information on the supply and demand of potential directors using a series of self-reported qualifiers. DirectorConnector’s central database, driven through the Internet, links potential directors with privately held companies, publicly held companies, and non-profit organizations, bringing a new level of efficiency to the board recruitment process.

About Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Founded in 1848, Michael Best & Friedrich comprises over 300 attorneys in six locations, including Milwaukee, Madison, Waukesha and Manitowoc, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; and Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. The firm provides a full range of legal services to clients on a regional, national and international basis in areas that include business, corporate finance/securities, employment relations/ERISA, environmental, health care, intellectual property, international, litigation, real estate, taxation and wealth planning services. Michael Best & Friedrich is the exclusive Wisconsin member of Lex Mundi (“Law of the World”), a network of more than 15,000 attorneys in more than 100 countries around the world.

About Candela Solutions LLC
Candela Solutions is a public accounting firm working with boards and management teams to help them reach their objectives through governance best practices, internal auditing, technology, strategic planning, and change management. These are the levers of strong governance to position organizations to make prudent decisions for reaching goals and maximizing shareholder value. We also have specialized competencies to service governments, middle market companies and start-up businesses.

###