Integré Partners Press Release:

January 10, 2005




A study just released by Integré Partners reveals that private equity and venture capital firms have squandered billions of dollars over the last several decades through inconsistent hiring at the CEO level.  The study, distributed to 11,000 Managing Director level practitioners was revealing in a variety of ways, according to Ralph Dieckmann, Managing Director at Integré Partners, who conducted the study. 


"The survey revealed that, although 65 percent of investors were generally satisfied with their CEO selections, 27 percent of the respondents said their ability to hire outstanding executives was either inconsistent or unsatisfactory, while only eight percent rated themselves as consistently high in their ability to hire the right people.  This may well be a function of over reliance on their own networking and assessment abilities and a converse under utilization of available professional evaluation skills," according to Dieckmann.


Acting as a member of a board of directors, a surprising eighty-one percent of the respondents had been involved in a flawed CEO selection, with 35 percent estimating the recruiting, relocation, severance, turnover and lost opportunity costs to their investors had exceeded $5 million in a single incident.  That extrapolates to an astounding $16 billion in attributable investor losses over the course of the careers of the estimated 15,000 senior private equity and venture capital professionals in the US and Canada.


When hiring at the CEO level, senior private equity professionals turn to search firms in 53 percent of the cases (29 percent use the largest ten firms, 25 percent use smaller ones) while they network to the eventual hire 42 percent of the time.  The majority networked first, however, spending up to two months looking on their own before turning the process over to a search firm.


Only four percent of the respondents said they consistently use consulting psychologists or other professional assessment services; 36 percent have never used them.  "This is problematic because investors are rarely trained in executive assessment themselves, yet the survey clearly shows that leadership accounts for the success or failure of a deal to a greater extent than market positioning, operational excellence, or proprietary technology." according to Dieckmann.  Leadership rated as the most important factor in 40 percent of successful ventures and the most important factor in 45 percent of reported business failures.  


"Hiring senior executives is always a challenge and the bottom line here," says Dieckmann, "is that senior private equity professionals need to re-evaluate the rigor of their selection techniques and resist emotional and poorly researched hiring decisions.  In addition, managing directors and limited partners in funds should be enhancing due diligence on the board hiring processes in their investee companies.  Working with experts in executive search and selection can help reduce or eliminate unrealized business successes.   Particularly in an environment of escalating multiples, results will be more difficult to attain and the importance of sound leadership will multiply, too." 


For more information on the survey,visit: Tabular Results to see the tabular results.


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Last modified: 06/05/06