This case study, based on one of Kathy Freeman Company’s successful search engagements, is intended to illustrate our unique approach to providing strategic advisory and executive search services to investment industry companies across the U.S.
Our client, an investment manager, broker dealer, and wealth advisory firm, had been extraordinarily successful in growing its business over several decades.
Despite their success, the firm’s focus on organic growth had left it without a deep understanding of the innovations occurring across the industry. As they confronted a leadership-level departure, they determined the time was right to reach out to the external market for talent to attract an executive who could infuse their wealth advisory business with fresh perspective and bring greater insight into the competitive landscape.
Developing A Solution:
In framing this new position, we helped our client do the following:
- Define, refine and prioritize the responsibilities that this new position should encompass.
- Benchmark the role with the competitive landscape to ensure the description would be compelling to the external talent market.
- Conduct a corporate and cultural audit to create a benchmark to assess executive talent against.
- Understand the competitive landscape and talk through compensation packages that would be required to successfully attract the desired caliber of talent.
- Think through criteria which, if identified in the chosen candidate, would allow this hire to serve as a potential succession plan for the CEO.
- Recognize the potential positive disruption this change agent would bring to the firm, allowing them to make early preparations for embracing change.
First, we conducted a situation analysis that included a capabilities assessment and market evaluation. We began by interviewing the firm’s key stakeholders, including the CEO, to identify the strengths and gaps of the existing team, define the scope of the position, and identify the competencies needed in this new hire. Based on those conversations, we arrived at a comprehensive assessment of the firm’s culture and distilled those insights into a list of attributes for the position description.
Recognizing that the new role should be unique yet comparable to roles at competitive firms, we recommended expanding the scope of the position to be a “stretch” opportunity for an external candidate who could then grow into the position.
Of critical importance, we provided the proper context for creating an attractive compensation package.
Once the parameters of the role were set, we drafted a description of the position. We created a call list, supplementing our rolodex of national industry relationships with customized research of new talent specific to this opportunity. We then conducted an exhaustive nationwide search.
To source the most qualified candidates, we articulated our client’s story and gathered feedback from the market. The story was well-received, but there were several mitigating factors which inhibited greater resonance. This was a “needle in the haystack” search. We communicated back to our client some of the challenges we were facing, and they agreed to modify some of the existing parameters. Ultimately, we presented a slate of three candidates for consideration, one of which was hired.
To bring the assignment to a successful conclusion, we worked closely with both the candidate and the firm to negotiate the necessary deal points of the offer. The negotiation included cash compensation, equity, relocation, and a protracted start date to accommodate bonus payout.
Some companies often think about a search for a new hire as a linear replacement for an existing role without thoroughly considering new skillsets that could be tremendously beneficial to the firm’s future growth. In this instance, our proven methodology helped the management team morph their legacy job description and crystalize what this role could and should look like. We transformed our conversations into an actionable strategy and a well-conceived position description.
Listen & Be Flexible.
During any search, the talent market always provides valuable feedback about the role, the firm’s story and whether the description compels interest among passive candidates. There is often a need to modify some components of the opportunity during the search process to make it even more attractive. We were able to show our client the benefit of minor adjustments in responsibilities as a mechanism to garner greater interest in the role.