Who Sits on Your Board of Directors?

As companies large and small grapple with the business impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, CEOs and their executive teams need all the help they can get. The Board of Directors or Board of Advisors should be one of the primary resources for organizational leaders.  But what if that board is not up to the task of providing strategic insight and offering the kind of valuable perspective needed to help the company navigate the new world order?

From our vantage point as strategic human capital advisors, we have had the opportunity to see hundreds of boards up close and personal.  Some are incredibly impressive and impactful.  Some other boards, unfortunately, are full of well-meaning people with homogenous thinking, dated skills, or business acumen that does not lend itself to great governance and strategic input.  Among the most critical roles of a board of directors is to: 1) decide who leads the organization and; 2) provide valuable oversight of business strategy and risk.  Directors whose own experiences do not align well with these vital responsibilities should perhaps be reevaluated for continued board service.

Now more than ever, organizations need board members who are not just great business leaders, but who also represent a diverse range of perspectives along with strong skills in key areas.  For example, as companies revamp their business models, directors with strong financial competency may be especially helpful.  Many firms have had to ramp up their work-from-home or online technological capabilities, and thus a strong digital director would be very useful at this time.  Executive compensation plans are under scrutiny as business forecasts evolve, and board members with relevant skills in this area might be particularly valuable.

Both the skills and life experiences of your board members really do make a difference.  It has been well documented that the more diverse the perspectives sitting around the board table, the more likely better decisions will be made.  A group of board members who think alike, look alike and see issues from a similar viewpoint are missing the opportunity to cast decision-making in the broadest possible light.  Considering this, how can a more diverse board not be beneficial?

According to Carol Johnson, a Director who sits on four corporate boards, “The CEO role has never been more challenging.  Board support and input, in partnership with the CEO and leadership team, should help the organization to think through strategic solutions, fresh opportunities, and how life will be different.  This is more important today than ever.”

The saga of the Board of Directors of Theranos, a now defunct blood testing startup founded by one-time Stanford student Elizabeth Holmes, is quite telling.  Holmes recruited luminaries including Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn, Bill Frist, Dick Kovacevich and Jim Mattis to her board with the promise of revolutionizing blood tests.  While this was a board of intelligent and accomplished leaders, they likely viewed the world similarly, and simply did not govern appropriately, ask the right questions, or properly assess the company’s risks.  And equally important, most of these big name directors did not have relevant experience with the company’s core business of blood testing.  As a result, the company is out of business and Holmes is awaiting trial.  Names alone do not make a great board.  It is the collective skills, nuanced insight, diverse backgrounds and perspectives, the courage to tackle tough issues, and the ability to present opposing views in a constructive manner that are the hallmarks of the most effective boards.

Needless to say, directors are expected to do their homework and prepare for board meetings beforehand.  Shockingly,  we see too many directors who do not review materials ahead of time, often belaboring discussions and sidetracking conversations, which wastes valuable board time.  The average public director now spends roughly 20 hours per month on their board duties, and advance preparation to optimize board time together remains critical to being a high performing board.

Companies with lesser skilled directors, or a board lacking in diversity, need to take a hard look at who is truly contributing and adding real value.  Perhaps it is time to have a difficult conversation or two regarding the need for current skills, along with the expectations of board performance.  As Bill McNabb, the former CEO of Vanguard has stated “Having the right directors on the board is the single most important factor in good governance”.  Well said.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and board advisory firm headquartered in suburban Philadelphia. He can be reached at 610-642-5644 or alan@KaplanPartners.com.

 

 

 

 

KAPLAN PARTNERS ANNOUNCES NICHOLAS DEMEDIO JOINS AS PRINCIPAL

 

Wynnewood, PA – January 22, 2020 – Kaplan Partners, a leading boutique executive search and talent advisory firm, today announced Nicholas DeMedio (“Nick”) joining the firm as a Principal. With more than 20 years of Executive Search, Talent Management and Human Resources experience, Nick comes from Mosteller & Associates where he oversaw the financial services executive search practice for the regional Human Resources consulting firm. In this role, Nick led a number of Chief Executive Officer and C-Level searches, working directly with Boards of Directors and Executive Management teams in all facets of senior level recruiting, executive compensation and talent consulting.

Nick previously served as a senior executive at Royal Bank America, a publicly traded community bank based in suburban Philadelphia. In this key leadership role, Nick managed both strategic and hands-on initiatives of the human resources department, including executive recruiting, the design and administration of both executive and staff compensation and benefits infrastructure, executive on-boarding, talent management and succession planning.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nick to the Kaplan Partners team,” said Alan J. Kaplan, founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners. “His experience lends itself well to the firm’s high standards for advising CEOs and boards on leadership succession, corporate governance, talent management, and enhancing diversity. Nick’s combination of experiences as both a trusted advisor and human resources leader will significantly benefit our clients.”

Nick holds a Bachelor of Business of Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Management from Temple University, as well as the Senior Professional of Human Resources (“SPHR”) certification from the Society of Human Resources Management.

ABOUT KAPLAN PARTNERS
For 25 years, Kaplan Partners has served as strategic human capital advisors specializing in Executive Search, Board Advisory Services, and Management Assessment and Succession Planning for the nation’s leading institutions, including: regional and community banks, asset management firms, private equity and venture capital firms, FinTech firms, mortgage and insurance companies, credit unions, technology companies and high growth organizations. Kaplan Partners employs a holistic approach and proven methodology to find the best solutions in support of evolving client leadership needs. The firm works directly with CEOs, boards, and investors to identify and evaluate leadership potential, leveraging best practices in corporate governance and succession management to ensure its clients’ continued success in today’s demanding markets. Visit here: www.kaplanpartners.com.

 

 

Seven Secrets of Succession Success

A well-orchestrated plan of succession and leadership continuity reassures employees, investors and communities

<To view the Article in its published format, click here: Seven Secrets of Succession Success>

One of a bank board’s most vital responsibilities is overseeing the plan of succession for the CEO. Whether driven by a looming retirement or change in the incumbent’s personal timeline, a well-orchestrated plan of succession and leadership continuity reassures employees, investors and communities. Unfortunately,
too many bank boards still take a passive approach to CEO succession, rather than acknowledging that as directors, they are responsible for the selection and ongoing evaluation of CEO performance.

<To read the Article in its published format, click here: Seven Secrets of Succession Success>

This article appeared in the February 2018 issue of BankDirector.com, copyright 2018.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia. Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA. You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

Does Your Bank Have A Dream Team

Assessing Your Bank’s Leadership Team is the Foundation of Successful Succession Planning

<To View the Article in its published format, click here: Dream Team Article A 8-2017>

Many bank Boards of Directors and CEOs are proud of their bank’s executive team. And rightly so! Yet frequently those feelings of pride dissolve into uncertainty when the bank is faced with the decision to promote a banker into a top executive position or even the CEO role.

How does this happen? Why do well laid out succession plans sometimes evaporate in the face of reality when the time to elevate someone finally arrives? One of the reasons, based on our experience working with hundreds of community bank boards and executive teams, is that directors are often missing context when faced with a promotion decision. The lack of relative perspective on comparative candidates for similar roles may at times impede the comfort level necessary for a board to validate a promotion decision.

<To Read the Article in its published format, click here:  Dream Team Article A 8-2017>

This article appeared in the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers Publication in 2017.

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia.  Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA.  You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

The Bank Director of the Future: Diversity of Experiences and Skill Sets Matter

<To View the Article in its published format, click here:  <The Bank Director of the Future Diversity of Experiences and Skill Sets>

While the requirements needed in a bank leader today continue to evolve, the same can also be said for bank directors. Boards of directors today are under more scrutiny than ever before, whether from governance advisors, shareholders, Wall Street analysts, activist investors, community leaders and customers. Even mutuals and privately held institutions face more visible scrutiny around corporate governance from their regulators and key constituents. Serving as a bank director today may still have a certain amount of prestige (depending on whom you ask), but the expectations for director performance and engagement have never been higher.

Community banks in particular tend to have long tenured board members—in many cases with decades of service. Continuity can be a good thing, provided the director skill sets continue to be relevant and the board does not become too close to the CEO, compromising objectivity. However, many bank boards have begun to focus more on the “collective skills” represented around the board table, and have started to emphasize a skill-based approach in making director retention and recruiting decisions.

<To Read the Complete Article in its published format, Click here:     <The Bank Director of the Future Diversity of Experiences and Skill Sets>

The article appeared in the February 2017 issue of BankDirector.com, copyright 2017

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia.  Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA.  You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.

The Bank Executive of the Future: Agile and Focused on Talent

To View the Article in its published format, Click Here: < The Bank Executive of the Future Agile and Focused on Talent>

Today’s bank leader remains under more pressure than at any time since the financial crisis. Tangible skills still matter, such as commercial credit experience, risk management and strategic planning.
Nevertheless, the real challenges may lie in developing the key leadership requirements for institutional success, and in the navigation of the managerial challenges which lie ahead. Here are three intangible but particularly important qualities for the future bank leader’s success.

<To Read the Complete Article in its published format, Click here:     <The Bank Executive of the Future Agile and Focused on Talent>

The Article appeared in the January 2017 issue of  BankDirector.com, Copyright 2017.

Alan J. Kaplan is founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and talent advisory firm based in Philadelphia. Kaplan Partners is the country’s only retained executive search firm member of the ABA & ICBA. You can reach him at alan@KaplanPartners.com or 610-642-5644.