In our latest report, Michael Henry (Managing Partner) and John Sanders (Senior Partner, Board & CEO Services) examine:

    • The benefits and challenges of evaluating candidates using “culture fit”
    • The universal factors that impact C-suite candidate selection
    • How to create an effective C-suite talent selection framework to support the executive search process


C-suite selection in financial services requires a highly strategic approach. Having worked extensively with Michael Henry to build our executive leadership team at FSRA, I have seen the value of clearly defining a talent selection framework, and the positive impact this process has on attracting high-calibre candidates and building an effective team.

Mark White

Chief Executive Officer , Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA)

Our latest report examines the value for executive teams and boards in developing a formal C-suite talent selection framework.


The leadership selection, assessment, and evaluation process within financial services organizations can often be monopolized by considerations around culture fit, burning platform issues, and “must have” candidate requirements.

How Important is “Culture Fit”?

Culture fit is always a critical component of finding good leaders, but can sometimes produce more questions than answers. This may include the need for further clarity around areas such as:

    • How is culture defined within an organizational context?
    • Does the executive leadership team share the same understanding of the organization’s culture and what constitutes a ‘good’ culture fit?

Some organizations demonstrate close alignment on how their culture is understood by investing substantial time to reinforce fundamental principles from the top down.

More frequently, however, when pressed about an organization’s culture, we often hear behavioural checklists rather than a coherent statement of cultural tenets. Often, there is a lack of a shared understanding regarding fundamental organizational issues by those tasked with critical talent management decisions at the senior executive level.

In our experience identifying and evaluating C-suite leaders across financial services, we have found that determining an organization’s ‘point of view’ on key strategic factors is equally as important as defining ‘culture fit’. This ‘point of view’ can then be translated to candidates as they evaluate the opportunity, and can also be leveraged by the designated search committee and/or board throughout the duration of a C-suite candidate selection process.

Universal Factors that Impact C-Suite Candidate Selection

The following are some of the critical areas that need to be defined and given close consideration in advance of a C-suite selection process:

    • Strategy
    • Operating Model
    • People Leadership
    • Decision Making
    • Technology
    • Key Stakeholders

For example, conducting a defined stakeholder consultation process before an executive search begins is one way of establishing a baseline or framework for candidate evaluation.

This consultation process — which has the added benefit of making key stakeholders feel more included in the process — will provide clarity around a number of key considerations. Items covered during these consultations can include stakeholders’ perspectives on the organization’s core values, strategy, first-year deliverables, as well as success factors for the executive role.

NOTE: Massey Henry previously examined the importance of Stakeholder Consultations in our thought leadership report, “CEO Selection in Financial Services“.

Candidates often share with executive search firms like ours that they receive inconsistent answers from leadership teams regarding organizational priorities, future direction, culture, and decision-making. Our experience suggests that taking a comprehensive look at these factors can yield improved candidate selection results.

In this context, taking a comprehensive look means establishing a leadership consensus around a series of important considerations to the business — there are no right or wrong factors. A well-aligned leadership team should be able to identify the most important factors and quickly determine a collective point of view for each. This process can take anywhere from a few hours to days, but the return on investment is significant.

This exercise also builds confidence for external recruiters and/or internal interviewers, enabling them to relay questions regarding a candidate’s experience and ability to function within the organization’s operating model and culture. As well, they can provide consistent and aligned answers to highly sought-after executive candidates regarding the organization’s strategy, operations, and culture.

Developing such a consensus framework prior to the interview process is beneficial to the organization and often results in stronger executive candidates.

Below, we have provided examples of some key factors for consideration when developing a C-suite talent selection framework in advance of an executive selection process.

  • What is our business strategy?
  • How did we develop the strategy?
  • How have we adapted over time?
  • Is there likely to be a significant change to the current strategy?
Operating Model
  • How are we organized?

  • What is our organizational structure?

    • Hierarchical

    • Functional

    • Agile

Decision Making
  • How do we make decisions?
    • Hierarchical
    • Collaborative
    • Functional
People Leadership
  • How does the organization identify, select, develop and promote talent?
  • Are we planful or reactive?

  • What are the gaps?

  • How vital is technology to our business?
  • What is our stage of technology evolution?
    • Enabler
    • Adapter

Interested in reading the full version of the report? Download your copy.