The Challenge

Our client was a prestigious FTSE 100 financial services organisation looking for a new CEO. The business had been struggling to establish a clear sense of strategic direction and to maintain performance momentum in a complex and fast-changing market, where competitive boundaries where being redefined. The Board were clear therefore that the choice of the new CEO was an absolutely pivotal one. They had three internal candidates but wanted in parallel to explore the best external options that they could attract.


Our Approach

We kicked off the process by spending time individually with the Chairman, the outgoing CEO and each of the Nominations Committee members to get their perspectives on the challenges the business faced and the optimal profile for the new CEO. At the same time, we arranged background briefings with selected analysts and experts to deepen our understanding of industry dynamics and their implications. Based on these inputs, we crystallised a brief for the role that was signed off by the Nominations Committee.

We then conducted structured global research and sourcing both in our client’s sector as well as in adjacent parts of the financial services industry, to develop a comprehensive audit of the external landscape and to identify interesting individuals. We then approached our potential candidates to gauge their possible interest in such a role – without disclosing our client’s identity – and conducted detailed competency-based interviews with over 25 of them to assess their detailed fit with the desired profile. From this, we developed and agreed with the Nominations Committee a recommended shortlist of five candidates to approach formally and prepared detailed reports on each, highlighting their experience and capabilities; these were an Italian, a Lebanese, a Frenchman, a South African and an Englishman. The Chairman conducted initial interviews and agreed two lead candidates to proceed to interviews with the rest of the Nominations Committee.

In parallel, we conducted a detailed assessment of the internal candidates. We briefed them to produce structured CVs together with notes outlining their vision for what they would do as CEO. We then interviewed them across to probe their experience and credentials for the role. Based on this, we produced a comprehensive report on each for the Nominations Committee, benchmarking strengths and weaknesses against the external candidates and highlighting the key issues to explore in their own discussions.

The Chairman and Nominations Committee then met with the internal and lead external candidates to form their own perspectives on each candidate’s fit with the brief and what the business needed and identify their preferred option. Based on these discussions, they concluded that both external candidates were significantly stronger than the internal options and selected the one that they feltw would provide the transformational leadership required.

The Outcome

The preferred candidate accepted their offer to become CEO and he has proved to be an excellent appointment. The business has become a proactive shaper of its industry landscape, making a number of bold strategic moves to reshape its footprint, whilst significantly enhancing operational performance. Its share price has outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 75% since his appointment.