Managing CEO succession

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A FTSE 100 retail Financial Services company was navigating a rapidly disrupting marketplace. It had a successful, long-standing CEO who was about to retire. The business had two strong internal succession candidates who the Board wanted to include in the process, alongside best in class external candidates from outside the sector. The Board asked for our advice in two main areas:

  • How to ensure they retained the internal talent if they ended up appointing externally

  • How to challenge the Board to seriously consider a broad and diverse range of world-class external candidates, from consumer-facing industries


We took a three-pronged approach:

  • A forensic examination of top candidates from within the broader financial services sector who would be known by the regulator

  • Identification of best-in-class, customer-centric candidates from consumer-facing businesses outside financial services

  • Benchmarking the internal candidates against emerging external options


Our belief is that an external candidate should be at least 30% better than the leading internal candidate, to justify a Board bringing new DNA into the business, with its attendant risks at CEO level. We invested significant time with the internal candidates, assessing their capabilities vs external options, giving them the opportunity to articulate their vision for the company. We managed the process tightly and sensitively, to ensure that if the internal candidates were not successful, they could emerge with their dignity intact and ideally remain with the business.