Wealth & Asset Management Industry Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Outlook

An AchieveNEXT survey of the wealth and asset management industry reveals a substantial gap between the level of DE&I performance in the industry and leaders’ perceptions of their own enterprises’ progress.

In the survey, conducted in late spring 2021, in conjunction with Kaplan and MMI, more than 60 executives
and advisors in the wealth and asset management industry painted a generally favorable picture of their
firms’ DE&I efforts. For example, most do not believe that a lack of diversity is a barrier to creating a
positive employee experience at their firms, and a large majority say that their firms consistently act to
ensure that all employees feel included and supported.

This confidence is at odds with data on the industry’s record for diversity, equity, and inclusion, which
show that female and minority employees are significantly under-represented in the top ranks. According
to a November 2020 study by the Investment Company Institute and McLagan, women comprise 42%
of the workforce of the asset management industry, but only 25% of senior leadership. Likewise, 31% of
employees are minorities, while just 16% of leadership falls into a minority demographic. While the ICI
study documents progress, as does a similar study of new appointments to directorships in the industry,
it clearly indicates that asset management has a long way to go before it can be said to be diverse,
equitable, and inclusive.

This confidence is at odds with data on the industry’s record for diversity, equity, and inclusion, which
show that female and minority employees are significantly under-represented in the top ranks. According
to a November 2020 study by the Investment Company Institute and McLagan, women comprise 42%
of the workforce of the asset management industry, but only 25% of senior leadership. Likewise, 31% of
employees are minorities, while just 16% of leadership falls into a minority demographic. While the ICI
study documents progress, as does a similar study of new appointments to directorships in the industry,
it clearly indicates that asset management has a long way to go before it can be said to be diverse,
equitable, and inclusive.

The AchieveNEXT study looked closely at what wealth and asset managers say they are doing to create
a supportive, inclusive, and engaging workplace for diverse employees. A sizable majority say they have
solid knowledge of how engaged their employees are. Almost four out of ten (39%) strongly believe they
measure employee engagement accurately, while an additional 33% agree, but not as strongly. Just 10%
have a low opinion of their engagement knowledge.

An even greater number — 89% — assert that their enterprise’s current culture and operations create
a positive employee experience. (Since that number is higher than the number who believe they have
accurate data, one can infer that in some cases this assertion, while it may be true, is unsupported by

<To read the article in its entirety and in its published format, click here https://kaplanpartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021-DEI-Outlook-Brief-Article.pdf>

Alan J. Kaplan is Founder & CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search

and board advisory firm headquartered in Philadelphia.   You can reach Alan at

610-642-5644 or alan@KaplanPartners.com.

Culture Building in a Telecommuting World: What’s the New Normal for a Post-Coronavirus Workplace?

By: Sharon J. Lorman, The Kafafian Group
Jeffrey P. Marsico, The Kafafian Group

Podcast Show Notes:

On this episode, our guests share their insights on how banks are returning to work, some of the benefits and risks associated with “work from home”, and how to promote your culture when a sizeable part of your workforce is remote. Don’t miss this interesting and informative episode with Alan Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, Austin Stonitsch, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, Dime Community Bank and Janet Whitehead, SVP of Human Resources, Univest Financial Corporation. Listen and enjoy!

Use the link below to listen or go to Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

Topic: Culture Building in a Telecommuting World and What’s the New Normal for a Post-Coronavirus Workplace?

Insights from:
Alan Kaplan, CEO Kaplan Partners
Austin Stonitsch, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Dime Community Bank
Janet Whitehead, SVP, Human Resources, Univest Financial Corporation

How will we adapt to changes in the working world that will remain post-pandemic? With remote working, are employees as productive and focused when not in the office? What employment issues or concerns are there with a remote working model? Our guests share their insights on how banks are returning to work, the legal and operational risk of work from home, and how to promote your culture when a sizeable part of your workforce is remote. Listen and Enjoy!

Alan J. Kaplan Biography
Founder and CEO, Kaplan Partners
610-745-5067 cell
610-642-5644 office

Alan J. Kaplan is the Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, a retained executive search and board advisory firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Kaplan Partners provides Boards and CEOs with advice on the dynamics of CEO and Board succession, and assistance with the identification, assessment and selection of new CEOs, Directors and senior executives. The firm’s Board Advisory Services assist clients with Director Succession, Performance, Diversity and Recruitment. Kaplan Partners also conducts Management Assessments of leadership teams to enhance succession planning and professional development efforts. Alan is a recognized leader in corporate governance, talent management and leadership succession across the financial services industry, and a frequent speaker and author for banking organizations nationwide.

Austin Stonitsch Biography
Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer
Dime Community Bank
631-537-1000 ext.7298 office

Austin Stonitsch is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer of Dime Community Bank. Prior to the merger on February 1, 2021, Mr. Stonitsch served in the same capacity for BNB Bank, joining BNB in 2016. Before joining the Bank, Austin served as Head of Human Resources for Alma Bank and IDB Bank and held various senior positions at JP Morgan Chase. He has over 30 years’ experience in financial services with 20+ being in various HR disciplines. Austin has a bachelor’s degree from RIT in Rochester, NY and an MBA for Hofstra University.

Janet Whitehead, CEBS, PHR Biography
Senior Vice President of Human Resources
Univest Financial Corporation
215 721-2527 office

Janet Whitehead, Senior Vice President at Univest Financial Corporation, has more than 20 years of human resources experience for the financial services industry. She currently leads Talent Acquisition, Compensation, HRIS, and Performance Management for Univest and is a contributor to the Benefit and Pension/Retirement initiatives. Prior to Univest, Janet was Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Vista Bancorp in New Jersey. Janet earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Muhlenberg College and holds both PHR and CEBS certifications. She serves on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Allentown and has served as President of the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Listen to the Podcast Here:

Finding the Right Fit with Alan J. Kaplan, Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners

By Jeremy Weisz, Achieve NEXT

Alan J. Kaplan

Alan J. Kaplan is the Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, an executive search and board advisory firm. Alan launched Kaplan Partners in 1994 after beginning his corporate banking career with First Pennsylvania Bank and Meritor/PSFS. Since then, he has built Kaplan Partners into a nationally recognized boutique firm that has been named five times to the Philadelphia100® as one of the region’s fastest-growing private companies.

In addition to this, Alan serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Corporate Directors’ Philadelphia Chapter, and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Temple University Fox School of Business. Alan is also a frequent speaker, a guest columnist, and the host of KYW Newsradio’s Career Report, a weekly business commentary on leadership and career management.

guest columnist, and the host of KYW Newsradio’s Career Report, a weekly business commentary on leadership and career management.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Alan J. Kaplan describes how he first got involved in corporate matchmaking
  • Alan’s advice for people starting out on the path of entrepreneurship
  • Strategies for making each new hire a win for everyone involved
  • How has innovation in technology impacted talent acquisition over the last few years?
  • Why finding the right fit is more complex than you might think
  • How the pandemic has shifted the way businesses make hiring decisions—and which changes are here to stay
  • Alan shares his thoughts on how companies can better support a multigenerational workforce
  • How today’s employers and employees should prepare for the post-pandemic job market
  • The importance of updating company boards to represent a more diverse perspective and reflect current skill sets
  • Alan’s tips for professionals who are looking to get into the executive search business

In this episode…

The word “fit” is used to describe everything from the perfect pair of jeans to the new hire for your company. Regardless of what you’re searching for, finding the right fit takes time, determination, and a certain level of skill. That’s why having a qualified team to help with important decisions like matching the right person to the job can make a huge difference.

When it comes to talent acquisition, Alan J. Kaplan understands that finding the right fit is a more involved process than simply matching qualifications. Alan and his team look at everything from company culture to leadership competencies in order to determine a fit that will result in a win for everyone involved. For Alan, it’s not about finding a temporary solution. His goal is to create lifelong relationships that benefit his company, the organizations he works with, and the candidates who rely on his matchmaking abilities.

On this episode of Level Up, Nick Araco interviews Alan J. Kaplan, the Founder and CEO of Kaplan Partners, about corporate matchmaking and the ever-evolving job market. Alan explains how the pandemic has shifted the way companies are hiring, the impact of recent technology on talent acquisition, and why finding the right person for the job is a complex process. Plus, Alan shares his advice for companies looking to create a more supportive environment for a diverse workforce. Stay tuned!

Listen to the Podcast here:


Distracted: Don’t let apps and e-mail kill your productivity

When discussing the impact of the Internet on the lives of American workers, Webby Awards founder Tiffany Shlain often quotes Sophocles: “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”

Despite all the business potential of the Internet, the Information Age has turned into the Age of Distraction. E-mail, social networks and instant messaging apps have become the source of near-constant interruptions. The average American worker handles 121 e-mails per day, checks their phone for e-mail and other posts 150 times a day, and spends 28 percent of each workday just handling electronic messages.

That deluge can make it nearly impossible to stay on track with work tasks or devote significant, focused time to priority projects. Studies warn it has caused business professionals’ attention spans to shorten to just seven minutes. Furthermore, workers who switch tasks due to digital distractions, can take 20-120 minutes to get back to their initial, core work.

So how can you combat those distractions and rebuild productivity?

Focus on meaningful work

More than ever, it is important to make sure workers have a clear vision of company mission and strategic goals, and how they can channel their unique abilities and prioritize their daily activities to advance that mission. Consider offering employees attention-management training to help them limit distractions and increase their ability to remain focused on a single task longer, stick to priority activities and generate higher quality results.

Schedule quality time

Julie Morgenstern, a productivity expert and author of “Never Check E-mail in the Morning,” recommends establishing a practice of setting aside at least an hour each morning for quiet, focused, priority work. Teams or individuals can set their own schedules for that quality time, and others know not to interrupt them for non-emergency issues.

Revive the concept of business hours

Everyone needs time to disconnect and recharge. Consider limiting e-mail usage to certain times of day and make sure employees understand they are not obliged to read or respond to e-mail outside of those hours. Furthermore, remind employees that the company has set work hours, follow them yourself, and make after-hours work the exception and not the rule.

It is possible to diminish the wave of frenetic, digital disruptions in our work days. Making that effort could provide you with a more focused, more productive and happier work force.

Kaplan Partners Highlights Key Third Quarter Success Stories

Despite the dual impacts of the global pandemic and challenging economy, this past summer our firm was quite busy continuing to work diligently on behalf of our clients.  Some of our recent success stories:

  • President of Community Banking, Flagstar Bank
  • President & CEO, Community Bank/CB Financial Services
  • EVP & Imminent President & CEO, Bankers Cooperative Group/NJ Bankers
  • VP-Finance, Connecticut Water
  • Board Member, First Internet Bank
  • Chief Financial Officer, Howard Bank
  • Corporate Controller, Project Management Institute

These assignments took place in six different states across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.  Kaplan Partners’ prime focus continues to be on financial institutions nationwide, as well as corporate financial roles and high growth/investor owned middle market firms.  For more information contact Founder & CEO Alan Kaplan at alan@KaplanPartners.com.

Succession in a Covid-19 World

The global pandemic has struck terror into the hearts of nearly everyone.  Business leaders and board members are reeling from the rapid impact on their organizations, across public companies, small businesses, non-profit organizations and more.  Everyone has been affected.

One of the less discussed impacts, which is shaking boardrooms and executive suites, is the issue of leadership succession.  Deciding who leads is a board’s most critical responsibility.  While proactive succession planning has long been a best practice, too many institutions still do not emphasize leadership succession seriously enough or review their plans often enough.  And now, with the scourge of Covid-19 upon us, organizations and boards are quickly taking a long, hard look at the quality and quantity of their succession plans.

One only needs to review the headlines to know that the issue of succession has reared its head again due to Covid-19.  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is infected.  The CEOs of Altria, British Telecom and Madison Square Garden have all confirmed their infections.  Jeffries & Co. CFO Peg Broadbent sadly died from his Coronavirus infection.  Even before COVID-19, consider that only in recent days did JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon return to work from a month-long absence, after emergency surgery for a major heart condition.  Succession is always a serious matter, and never more so than today, when a random and unseen enemy could impact anyone at any time.

What is a board or incumbent leader to do, particularly in more entrepreneurial organizations without a deep bench of talent?  Here are a few key strategies:

  • Designate an emergency successor immediately. There should always be someone appointed to keep the train on the tracks in times of crisis.  This also allows those in control (owners or directors) a bit of time to formulate a long term leadership strategy.
  • Review succession plans for all C-Suite and Key Executive roles (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) with regular frequency. Regular means no less than annually on a formal basis, and more frequently if a planned orderly transition—such as a CEO retirement—is coming in the not-too-distant future.
  • Take a good look at existing talent development plans across your organization, especially those 2-3 levels below the top. What is being done to develop, coach, mentor, and strengthen the skills and leadership competencies of high potential talent within the institution?  These employees are your most valuable workers, and the ones with the most career options.  Are you truly taking care of their needs while also serving the organization’s future?
  • Centralize efforts at talent attraction, retention and development across the organization. Succession is a multi-faceted endeavor, and needs some level of consistent oversight to make sure that key players are not falling through the cracks or being shortchanged.  It happens all too often, and perceived greater career upside is the single biggest reason why a high potential often leaves.  Do you have a strategic HR leader to assist with these efforts?
  • Lastly, pay personal attention to those up-and-comers. If you’re a leader, whether the CEO, General Manager, Owner or C-Suite Executive, it’s your personal involvement with high potentials that makes them inclined to stick around.  Let your rising stars know that they have a bright future, and that you have plans for them. Communicating regularly does more than almost anything to keep them in the fold.  Then challenge them with special projects, new assignments, and out-of-the-box opportunities, to test them and to help them grow.

Two-thirds of our current CEO succession projects arose from unplanned openings at the top—and this was before Covid-19’s full onset.  We see such leadership transitions all the time in our business, and companies should work to minimize the impact of unforeseen leadership changes.  Smooth transitions of power from within an organization are the least disruptive, and are typically most effective when the rising talent has been well prepared.  Unfortunately, unexpected things happen, and organizations need to be ready for leadership succession in good times and bad.  Hopefully one of the lessons from this global pandemic will be that more institutions will strengthen their succession planning efforts, to better protect themselves in the future.

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.




Crisis Leadership 101

I don’t claim to be an expert in crisis management.  However, since founding our firm 26 years ago, I’ve met literally thousands of C-Suite leaders and recruited over 100 Presidents/CEOs.  So, I have observed a few things along the way.  Here are three critical elements of leadership which I view as particularly relevant in these challenging times.

Leaders lead from the front   I’ve observed many leaders who revel in their title as President or CEO or General Manager.  They aspire to such lofty roles and then sit in an oversized office waiting for staff to come to them.  In addition, some of these “leaders” assume that because of their title, by definition they have all the answers.  No one actually does.

As the latest crisis was unfolding, I was made aware of a handful of CEOs still planning to attend a conference which—while providing genuinely useful content—also involved a large amount of free time at a posh resort.  Now, we’re all entitled to a little downtime, but with a burgeoning crisis—whether COVID-19 or any other—leaders need to be on the front lines, carrying the flag, reassuring employees and making critical decisions.  When times are tough, people want their leader to exude confidence and be visible out front.

Leaders communicate  In good times, I believe that a leader cannot over-communicate to the troops.  There’s an old saying that “people don’t want to be managed; they want to be led”.  As all good leaders know, communication is a vital part of the role. In times when things are less than ideal, communicating with your team takes on even greater importance.  Knowing what is happening, that there is a plan and a path forward, has a powerful effect on people.  In the absence of information, you get speculation.  So give the news to your people straight up, good or bad, and as quickly and as often as you can.

Leaders must be adaptable  Even the best developed plans may go off the rails in good times.  Market forces, competitive dynamics, insufficient execution, managerial shortcomings and more may make a seemingly good strategy look flawed in the rear view mirror.  Leaders recognize when something is not working, and are able to adjust on the fly, then craft a new approach.  This is not always easy, but highly effective leaders are flexible and resilient.

In the current crisis, things are changing so quickly—literally day by day and sometimes more often—that even the most seasoned leaders may struggle to adjust to new realities.  While your teams will look to you as the leader for guidance and “what’s next”, in the absence of a new plan, the communication and candor of the leader become paramount.

The authenticity of a leader sets the tone of an organization, and being out front and honest with your people will go a long way towards keeping them in the fold and moving forward.   These are indeed trying times for everyone at every level, and surely for leaders of enterprises both large and small.  We will get through this—not without impacts in still unknown ways—and the fundamentals of crisis leadership will be critical for leading your teams into the future.

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.





Integrated Talent Management

Mixing talent with business

In scattered HR departments across the country, professionals are hoping some daunting numbers will spur executives to embrace a bold approach to integrated talent management. Although we’ve seen it coming for years, companies have been forced to appreciate the magnitude – and feel the acute impact – of baby boomer retirements. America’s 80 million boomers are expected to retire at a rate of about 10,000 people per day over the next 19 years, undoubtedly leaving talent gaps in many organizations.

That trend will require companies to embrace bolder talent strategies. “In the past, companies have created business forecasts, then developed talent strategies to support those,” said Mindy Mazer, Corporate Director of Talent Acquisition at AMETEK, Inc. and a former talent executive with several, large Philadelphia companies. “With the changing demographics and the talent pool becoming much more competitive, companies are going to have to do a different kind of planning.”

But how can you integrate your talent strategy with your business strategy and avoid talent shortfalls?

Mine the data

Analyze your existing talent pool and long-term talent needs. This analysis should include demographics of current staff in all segments of your business, turnover rates and costs, existing skills, scarce skills, existing or looming management gaps, and the adequacy of the talent queued up to assume greater roles inside the organization. Also assess the attributes that will be needed to thrive in a rapidly changing economy.

Such data can highlight emerging talent gaps and provide the foundation for strategies to acquire the right talent to meet business goals.

Invest in potential

Armed with that forecast of your talent needs, refine your recruiting, retention, training, succession planning, employee benefits and other talent programs to target emerging talent gaps and workforce realities. This, Mazer warns, is a daunting job and can require fundamental changes to established business practices.

The anticipated shortage of experienced employees and senior-level managers, for example, is prompting some companies to shift their recruiting programs to focus primarily on fresh college graduates and “young potentials.” In conjunction, firms are creating extensive development programs to help those junior employees gain subject-matter, project-management and leadership skills.

“This approach requires companies to think differently. It requires funding and it’s more proactive than many companies tend to be,” Mazer said. The payoff, however, could be the creation of a “bench of talent” tailored to advance your company’s strategic goals.

Effective Boards

Board games, team players

It’s the stuff of Hollywood drama and CEO nightmares. Dysfunctional boards of directors – at least in movies and bad dreams – can be the source is interminable meetings, uninspired deliberation, corporate gridlock and even hostile power grabs.

In everyday business life, however, a board of directors doesn’t have to be anything like that. A great board should involve a group of engaged thought-leaders, diverse professionals and perhaps a few entrepreneurial superstars. This dynamic team will help tackle key challenges, explore growth opportunities, grapple with succession, and strategically advance the company. So, how do you create a highly talented and effective board for your company?

Map skills and needs

Begin by analyzing the strengths of current board members and identify skills gaps that should be filled by future members. A fully capable board of directors typically includes folks with industry and management expertise, plus specialists in finance, law, human resources, technology, risk, governance, innovation and markets—to name a few.

The board’s nominating committee should focus on candidates with proven qualifications, said Margaret Pederson, President and CEO of Amirexx LLC “Many people want to be considered for board positions when they are years away from being appropriate candidates. People have asked me, ‘Do I have to fully understand a P&L to sit on the board?’ They should have run a P&L before they join a board.”

Diversify, diversify

Many board meetings, unfortunately, still live up to the stereotype of being gatherings of older, white men. Improving diversity within boards is essential, Peterson said, “but I define it as diversity of thought, experience and expertise. The board needs to fully represent the world that the company serves, and be able to communicate with all company stakeholders, especially customers and employees. You want to have a diverse slate of candidates that understand markets across various income levels, geographies, cultures and other demographics.”

Value soft skills

Just as any new employee should fit well with the company’s culture, new board members need to blend well with the board’s culture. A board candidate’s communication style, priorities, personality and even emotional intelligence should be considered to determine how that person would interact with existing board members.

When creating or adding to a board, make the effort to craft an effective team that will collaborate well, challenge and inspire each other, and respect differing points of view. Ultimately, it will help your board achieve its goals of providing leadership oversight, making the best decisions, and advancing critical business strategies.

Bridging the Skills Gap

After years of debating whether the skills gap is real or simply a notion promoted by frustrated recruiters, evidence clearly highlights that American employers are facing a genuine, widespread and worsening gap between the skills they need and the skills the workforce possesses.

In a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey, over half of small-business leaders said they faced a “very or fairly major challenge in recruiting non-managerial employees.” Among recent Inc. 5000 CEOs, 76 percent said they were experiencing major problems recruiting qualified people. Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics now predicts the number of unfilled jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields will climb to a historic high of 1.2 million by year-end.

Such numbers are leading many people to the same conclusion: Companies will need to become more deeply involved in workforce development in order to avoid critical skills gaps within their own talent pools.

Spot the ‘high potentials’

Studies warn that some employers are exacerbating their own skills-gap problems through their recruiting practices. Specifically, too many employers keep doggedly searching for experienced candidates rather than hiring individuals with the right education, core skills and potential—and then developing those people.

Companies need to identify those high-potential, but less-experienced people and create training sessions, mentorship programs, project-experience opportunities and other professional development offerings to accelerate their growth.

At the same time, companies need to provide existing and mid-career employees with increased professional development opportunities – an item that was cut in many budgets during the recession.

In both cases, professional development program should stretch beyond hard-skills training to develop “whole persons” with solid interpersonal and communication skills, business acumen and management competencies.

Partner with educators

Greater corporate participation in the educational community is also needed to help reduce the skills gap. By supporting STEM classes in middle schools, innovative courses in community colleges, apprenticeship programs, industry-university joint endeavors and educational efforts by professional associations, companies can help foster a more highly skilled workforce and establish themselves as progressive, desirable employers.

This may all sound like a lot of extra work to heap on top of the daily demands of operating your company. However, analysts increasingly argue that heightened training efforts by employers are not just desirable, but essential. Stressing that “education and workforce systems in the United States are failing to keep pace with the changing needs of the economy,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently called on employers to apply the same importance, rigor and skills used in supply-chain management to talent-pipeline management