To Maximize Success, Place Financial SuperStars in Key Roles


Every team in the National Football League and Major League Baseball all would love to field superstars at every position. The same is true for Financial Services firms and Banks. Chief Lending Officers, Managing Directors and CFO’s devote countless hours devising ways to lure, hire, and retain all-star talent.

The limited number of exceptionally talented financial leaders, the high cost of finding and compensating them, and the ever-present threat of a better offer make this dream impossible.

The good news for finance managers – if not for NFL coaches and MLB managers – is that a roster full of financial geniuses is neither critical nor mandatory in order to build a high performing team. The key is having superstars in specific roles, within your organization.

While the impact and performance variability factors will change from company to company and industry to industry, the grid above may be typical.

Successful companies place their most capable Finance employees in positions that rank high on both variables.

The key to developing a solid department, as with any team, is to focus on the areas with the greatest impact and the greatest variability.

Football teams build their Super Bowl hopes around Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks, 1,000-yard rushers, or stingy defenses. CFOs, CLOs and Managing Directors should strive to hire and retain client facing RM’s, Lenders and Investment professionals that contribute the most to their companies’ go-to-market strategies. These are positions that will deliver the greatest influence on the firms’ profitability and that exhibit the greatest variability in performance from person to person. In some business environments, low price and wide selection drive profit. Financial services employees who can determine ways to cut costs will be particularly important. Other areas, with less impact and variability, can be staffed with rank-and-file employees who receive less compensation and require less managerial time and support.

Managers can uncover positions with high impact and high variability by asking a few key questions:

  • How is the product delivered?
  • Is the product highly differentiated, or is it a commodity?
  • How is the purchase decision made?

Writing in Harvard Business Review, human resources management experts point out that focusing on strong employees without consideration of high-importance jobs, is putting the cart before the horse. “High performers aren’t going to add much value to an organization if they’re smoothly and rapidly pulling carts that aren’t going to market,” they note. “They’re going to be effective only when they’re harnessed to the right cart – that is, engaged in work that’s essential to company strategy.”

As part of any solid long range business plan, it is wise to invest the time to determine which roles are the most critical to achieving your company’s goals, and then build out a list of the most important skills that those employees must have in order to excel in their role.

When you are looking to fill key roles that do require star players, please consider reaching out to International Search Consultants, who have been a leader in Financial Recruiting since 1999.  Contact Us   today to strategize on precisely what skill sets you require, and ISC will assign a team of experienced Financial Headhunters to recruit the best candidates in the industry to deliver to  your interview table.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, and can be reached directly at or direct dial at 888-866-7276

Anna Souers is Director of Finance Recruiters and can be reached directly at or direct dial at 800-450-3808