The Four C’s of Recruiting and Retaining C-Suite Leadership

There are 4 C’s of recruiting and retaining top leadership talent to ensure families can indeed “get it right” the first time, every time.”


Clarity and Consensus
Prior to any action being taken regarding human capital, a discussion about family objectives is not only valuable, but essential. Working with families is imbued in nuance. Each family has unique needs, a unique culture, and like any family, a family office is made up of many individuals and may span multiple generations and branches. Before a position profile can even begin to be developed, it’s important to step back and look at what the family is trying to accomplish over the next 15 to 20 years. This time invested up front is the cornerstone in laying the proper foundation. Leadership roles, position descriptions and ideal candidate profiles must be clearly defined. Only then will the family have the information necessary to develop the assessment criteria and process that will be used to identify and select candidates. Mack International’s proprietary 360 assessment defines client needs and culture and enables clients to achieve the clarity, consensus and alignment regarding their collective vision and position.


Credentials vs. “Culture Fit”
Most family office searches fail because they don’t recognize a basic principle: a successful hire requires that the candidate not only have the requisite skills and competencies to perform the job, they also need to meet the culture fit requirements to be successful and effective. In the family office world, culture fit will always trump technical expertise. And that is for the incoming family office leader as well–it works both ways. In terms of potential candidates, the market is surprisingly limited so it can be a challenge to identify qualified individuals who can work in an ultra-specialized environment and culture for what can be a generation in time. Academic credentials, experience, and accomplishments constitute but a subset of the selection criteria applied. It is of paramount importance that values, philosophies and other personal attributes that comprise culture fit match as well.


“Every family would agree that it is critical for them to successfully attract and retain the right leadership talent to enable them to achieve their long-term goals and objectives and to strengthen family sustainability. But in the absence of a proven process, we see many of these searches fail.”


Compensation Considerations
Various drivers affect Family Office compensation. These include size, complexity, family philosophy, the position, individual performance, and geography. One of the biggest compensation challenges is the lack of good benchmarking market data. In 2015 the first Family Office Executive Compensation Survey was published by Fidelity Family Office Services and Botoff Consulting. The 2017/2018 Single Family Office Investment Professionals survey was co-sponsored by Mack International, McNally Capital and Botoff Consulting. It is the most robust of its kind specific to Family Offices and Family Investment firms and was conducted to provide deeper insights and more accurate competitive information. Successful Family Offices understand the critical role of developing a process before, during and after an executive search is embarked upon and the value of designing a compensation plan that drives behaviors leading to results aligned with family objectives.


Commitment to Onboarding
Commitment to the success of the new leader and creating an environment to foster success is critical. An onboarding plan is designed to help the new leader become acclimated to their role, the family and family office culture, and to the family’s advisors. The goal is to help the new family office leader build relationships and achieve results quickly and effectively. Performance expectations and metrics must be aligned with family philosophies, values and objectives and used to evaluate success in a manner that is objective, results driven, quantitative and qualitative. They must be mutually agreed upon and clearly communicated. Ongoing, open communication and feedback regarding performance is critical. Retention plans, and succession plans should never be overlooked or taken for granted.


“Families are typically looking for someone who can assume a leadership role for 15 years or longer. And when it spans that length of time, it becomes a very personal relationship.”


A Final Word
Having a well-defined, comprehensive process to identify, recruit, assess, hire and onboard the ideal candidate is essential. Combined with strategic compensation and retention strategies—the new leader’s ability to succeed grows exponentially. Tenures of senior-level professionals for Family Offices tend to be longer as opposed to traditional corporate positions. Therefore, the identification and vetting process becomes hyper critical. Coupled with what is already a narrow field of candidates who are best qualified for these “expert generalist” head of family office positions, it truly requires a proven method to bring all the elements together.


Linda MackLinda Mack is President and Founder of Mack International and has been providing C-Suite executive search and strategic consulting solutions to Family Offices for 18 years. Author of a white paper entitled, Best Practices in Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent, Linda is widely considered a thought leader concerning Family Offices and their leadership needs.