Darren & Associates
 

Our Financial Services team has been providing clients with quality, results-oriented executives in the financial and banking industry. The breadth of our human capital network, our brand strength and reputation, give our clients access to the top talent in every facet of financial services.

Our strength lies in our ability to draw on Darren & Associates' rich resources. In recruiting your perfect candidate, we collaborate with colleagues in our offices around the world, with our financial executive recruiters, and with our job function specialists. This multi-faceted approach ensures that the quality of our work and our client service are outstanding. It is not surprising, therefore, that a high percentage of our engagements represent repeat business and long-term relationships with clients who have come to depend on us for the complete suite of talent management solutions.


Wealth Management

By any measure, the asset management and private banking sectors have been seriously affected by this period of turmoil. It is not just the result of a profitability crisis, but more a reflection of deep structural issues affecting the core beliefs of the segment. In response the CEO agenda should be built around three priorities: stabilizing the business, restoring operating performance and repositioning the organization for the future.

The combination of market underperformance, falling AUMs and clients' demands for simpler, "safer" asset classes is precipitating a dramatic decline in revenues, and shifting clients' expectations from "asset" management to "risk" management. The European asset management industry alone saw some €7 billion wiped off its bottom line in 2008, as revenues plummeted and costs remained fairly static or even grew in absolute terms. To return to 2007 levels of

profitability, asset managers need to reduce costs by 30–60 percent, depending on the trajectory of revenues in 2009. Costs need to be cut not only in the support functions, but also in investment management and sales. Additionally, players have to cope with the increasing power of distributors (although for bank-owned entities the battlefield is deposits), increased regulatory intervention and ownership changes. Finally, a new wave of consolidation in asset management will occur. Strategically, consolidation might be the best option for some sub-scale players to turn around their performance and for high performers to buy assets and move forward to the next league. The current issue is that valuation multiples are at low levels. New organizational configurations are being mooted, with private equity involvement.

From a board perspective, we expect more appointments of financially literate non-executives to asset management boards in strengthening business oversight, enhancing risk awareness and challenging incumbent managements. At the senior management level, turnover is beginning to increase as boards emphasize efficiency and cost management over growth. Risk management needs to be revolutionized. In portfolio management, we expect strong demand for asset allocation and credit skills, particularly in distressed security investing. We also see potential for team lift-outs. In sales and marketing solutions orientation and a more self-starter culture will prevail, focusing on serving clients, rather than pushing products. Lastly, compensation packages are being re-thought.

Our global Wealth Management Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of organizations in all sectors of asset and wealth management to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management competencies, and to support boards of directors.

Our unique one-firm approach, which facilitates collaboration across geographical practice boundaries, enables us to bring highly skilled and experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients and achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world. By focusing on people and skills management in the context of a specific strategy, we help wealth management institutions to rethink their organizations and their winning value propositions.

Retail Financial Services

While other segment of the financial services Industry have suffered through the current crisis, retail financial services have proven to be a stable and, therefore, critical revenue generator for many banking organizations. Overall, retail banking still represents the most significant source of income for the global financial services industry.

The retail banking landscape is undergoing rapid change, driven by national consolidation in many markets and cross-border M&A, in a context of shrinking margins. Although cost containment remains important, the generation of strong, sustainable growth represents the most critical success factor for many retail financial services institutions. As a consequence, the retail banks' operating model is more than ever focused on the transformation towards increased revenue growth, improved customer service, and lower costs.

Other influencing trends, such as shifting demographics, the rise of emerging markets, higher customer expectations, the need for global operating platforms/models, and the need for continuous product innovation, are subjecting executive management teams to ever-rising expectations.

To stay ahead in the game, retail financial services institutions need to ensure that they have access to the most highly skilled staff available, both at executive board level and in areas such as multi-channel distribution strategy, marketing, innovative product development, and IT organization. At the same time, the leadership skills required for managing large multi-regional entities across geographies and cultures will be increasingly important.

Darren & Associates' global Retail Financial Services Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of organizations in all sectors of the retail financial services industry to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management competencies, and to support boards of directors.

The management of high-performance teams with the varied technical backgrounds needed to steer companies safely through the crisis also poses particular leadership challenges in strategic, talent and human resources management. With our well established Leadership Strategy Services Practice including our unique Team Effectiveness Review service, we are particularly well placed to support retail financial services institutions' boards and top-management teams in these challenging times.

Our unique one-firm approach, which facilitates collaboration across geographical and practice boundaries, enables us to bring highly skilled and experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients, and achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world. By focusing on people and skills management in the context of a specific strategy, we help retail financial institutions to rethink their organizations and their winning value propositions.

Investment Banking

To stay ahead of the competition, banks will need to ensure they have access to the most highly skilled staff, both at executive board level and within the business. Banks must be increasingly focused on relationships, and adapt to their clients. Leadership is also critical in assessing the changing landscape and identifying the emerging opportunities. New and growing areas of banking, such as restructuring and distressed investing, must also attract talent.
Darren & Associates' Global Investment Banking Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of international and regional investment banks to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management

competencies. In a time of increasing focus on the relationships bankers provide, we are able to access senior business leaders to give references and context from the wider business community.
The management of the high-performance teams needed to steer companies safely through the current market also poses particular leadership challenges in strategic, talent and human resources management. With our well established Executive Coaching Services and our unique External Benchmarking Review, we are particularly well placed to support companies' boards and top-management teams in these challenging times.
Other influencing trends, such as shifting demographics, the rise of emerging markets, higher customer expectations, the need for global operating platforms/models, and the need for continuous product innovation, are subjecting executive management teams to ever-rising expectations.

To stay ahead in the game, retail financial services institutions need to ensure that they have access to the most highly skilled staff available, both at executive board level and in areas such as multi-channel distribution strategy, marketing, innovative product development, and IT organization. At the same time, the leadership skills required for managing large multi-regional entities across geographies and cultures will be increasingly important.

Darren & Associates' global Retail Financial Services Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of organizations in all sectors of the retail financial services industry to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management competencies, and to support boards of directors.

The management of high-performance teams with the varied technical backgrounds needed to steer companies safely through the crisis also poses particular leadership challenges in strategic, talent and human resources management. With our well established Leadership Strategy Services Practice including our unique Team Effectiveness Review service, we are particularly well placed to support retail financial services institutions' boards and top-management teams in these challenging times.

Our unique one-firm approach, which facilitates collaboration across geographical and practice boundaries, enables us to bring highly skilled and experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients, and to achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world.
By focusing on people and skills management in the context of a specific strategy, we help banks to rethink their organizations and their winning value propositions.

Insurance

The current economic crisis confronts insurance companies with two major challenges.

Life insurers in particular are threatened by their dependence on investment income to meet their commitments to clients. Reinsurers and general insurers are also challenged by steadily increasing environmental claims resulting from the impact of climate change.

These extraordinary challenges emphasize the importance of both leadership and management skills and technical expertise in the industry.

To stay ahead of the competition, insurers will need to ensure they have access to the most highly skilled staff available, both at executive board level and in areas such as financial risk management, innovative product development, underwriting and technical risk Expert Network/modeling and multi-channel distribution strategy.

Darren & Associates' global Insurance Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of organizations in all sectors of insurance to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management competencies, and to support boards of directors.

The management of high-performance teams with the varied technical backgrounds needed to steer companies safely through the crisis also poses particular leadership challenges in strategic, talent and human resources management. With our well established Executive Coaching Service including our unique External Benchmarking service, we are particularly well placed to support insurance companies' boards and top-management teams in these challenging times.

Our unique one-firm approach, which facilitates collaboration across geographical and practice boundaries, enables us to bring highly skilled and experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients and achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world.

By focusing on people and skills management in the context of a specific strategy, we help insurance companies to rethink their organizations and their winning value propositions.

Private Capital

The private capital sector has been seriously affected by the current period of turmoil. This is not just the result of a crisis of both financing and profitability, but also a reflection of deep structural issues affecting the core beliefs of the segment.

The private capital landscape is undergoing significant change, caused by huge market losses at funds, substantial write-downs on portfolio companies and the virtual inexistence of new investments over the past 12 months, except for special asset classes at the distressed end of the spectrum. The traditional exit routes for investments are blocked. Investors in private capital, like large pension funds, are suffering liquidity issues of their own and, in consequence, have all but stopped funding the private capital sector. In addition, the sector is confronted with increased regulatory interventions. With all these factors driving change, the end-game is not yet apparent.

As an immediate consequence, the private equity industry is now focusing its resources on managing portfolio companies – which often means a fight for survival. The current market situation has forced many private equity companies to move quickly to implement financial and operational changes in their portfolio companies that will allow them to preserve value.

However, the longer-term outlook for the sector is not entirely gloomy:

A need clearly remains for private capital to play an important role in the overall economy

Private capital funds with a stable investor base, sufficient capital to invest and adequate performance are poised to prevail

Private capital investors will use the demonstrated performance of funds in the current difficult times to decide where to place their bets in the future

Market turmoil is beginning to depress prices for new investments to historically low levels – which represents an excellent opportunity for a new vintage of successful investments

Sooner or later, leverage funding will return.

To stay ahead in the game, private equity companies need to ensure that they have access to the most highly skilled staff available, both at investment and financing level and in the management teams of portfolio companies. Most private capital teams have successful, experienced investment professionals – only a few have built capable resources in investment management.

The issue is not only one of recruiting top-quality skill, but also a structural one: how to combine transactional and operative professionals efficiently and effectively, jointly aligned in one team? How to organize the relevant processes and communication? As simple as these questions seem, they have proven no less difficult to answer when it comes to the crucial details.

Darren & Associates' global Private Capital Practice segment consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of organizations in all sectors of the private capital industry to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management competencies, and to support advisory boards.

The management of high-performance teams with the varied technical backgrounds needed to steer companies safely through the crisis poses particular leadership challenges in strategic, talent and human resources management. With our well established Executive Coaching Services, including our unique External Benchmarking Review, we are particularly well placed to support private equity companies' advisory boards and investment- and portfolio-management teams in these challenging times.

Combining our extensive global experience, we bring advice to the table on what works and what doesn't, what experience has been gathered by others, and how differences in individual markets play out. In many of our close client relationships, we play an important advisory role on structural and organizational issues, and even provide support for the design of market strategies – which subsequently transforms into searches for professional talent.

Our unique one-firm approach, which facilitates collaboration across geographical and practice boundaries, enables us to bring highly skilled and experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients, and to achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world. By focusing on people and skills management in the context of a specific strategy, we help private equity companies to rethink their organizations and their winning value propositions.

Risk Management

The current economic crisis has forced financial institutions to take a critical look at how they manage risk.

The collapse of several high-profile banks, the emergency rescue of others, the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars, and several CEOs and CROs forced out of their jobs are all signs that something went terribly wrong with how firms were managing and governing risk-taking, highlighting an urgent need for improved risk management across all areas of the financial community. Across banks, asset managers, insurers and other financial intermediaries, boards and CEOs are asking for more information on the risks their firms are exposed to. These extraordinary challenges emphasize the importance of, and need for world-class talent and leadership.

With heightened regulatory focus on risk management practices, risk is now a regular topic of discussion for boards and management committees. At many firms the Chief Risk Officer now reports directly to the President or CEO, is frequently a member of the Executive Committee, and routinely briefs the Board of Directors; consequently communication and related skills are more important than ever. CEOs are looking for Chief Risk Officers who can explain complex risk issues in easily understood terms and relate them to the business issues. In many firms the risks were identified and transparent to management, yet no action was taken to mitigate them. In some cases this was because risk was relegated to a staff function, in others the CRO simply did not make a cogent argument. Firms are now demanding Risk Officers who can compel the business owners to action.

Risk is no longer a defensive weapon but also a strategic tool. With the provision of capital more constrained, the financial institutions that can allocate it efficiently on a risk-adjusted-return basis will outdistance their peers. Firms will need to integrate risk management into their business development, product development and strategic decision-making. Chief Risk Officers need to have more than just the technical and management skills that were required of the past; they need to have a strategic vision, and be able to lead the organization in implementing a sound risk management infrastructure, and instill a rigorous, disciplined risk culture.

Darren & Associates' global Risk Management Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with the managements of banks, asset managers, insurers, professional service providers, and non-financial service firms to meet hiring and talent management needs. Darren & Associates has experience working with senior executives across all areas of risk (market, credit, operational, and treasury) and has the leading global executive search practice.

Given the high demand for talent and the relatively limited supply – especially now with so much of the talent pool being regarded as "tainted" – hiring the right risk management talent is more difficult than ever. While the talent pool is smaller, the demand for risk management talent continues to grow, and counter-offers are commonplace, making it difficult to close on candidates. Our unique business model facilitates collaboration across geographic boundaries, enabling us to bring highly skilled, experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients and achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world.

In addition to our traditional recruiting services, Darren & Associates offers a rigorous and systematic succession process based on our well established Expert Network Consultancy. As leaders in the field, we are particularly well placed to support Chief Risk Officers with access to the market, benchmarking against external talent, and creative solutions and sources of new talent. By focusing on people and skills management in the context of the risk-management profession, we help companies to re-think their organization's approach to talent.

Finance Technology

While other segments of the financial services industry have suffered through the current crisis, needs in the Finance Technology area have been growing rapidly as a result of various consolidations and changes in technology and operations for most global banking organizations.

Finance Technology is a constantly expanding, high-potential search segment that covers any CIO, CTO, COO, or obvious IT position in a financial services firm, or any position that supports financial services in a technology company. Such technology companies are most common in the banking, capital markets, insurance and traditional vendor sectors.

To stay ahead in the game, financial services institutions need ensure that they have access to the most highly skilled staff available, both at executive board level and in areas such as CIOs, technology operations and Finance Technology. At the same time, the leadership skills required to manage large multi-regional entities across geographies and cultures will be increasingly important.

Darren & Associates' global Finance Technology Practice consists of a highly professional team around the world who partner with senior executives of organizations in all sectors of the technology and financial services industry to address hiring needs and assist with the Expert Network of existing management competencies, and to support boards of directors.

The management of high-performance teams with the varied technical backgrounds needed to steer companies safely through the crisis also poses particular leadership challenges in strategic, talent and human resources management. With our well-established Expert Network Consultancy including our unique External Benchmarking Services, we are particularly well placed to support retail financial services institutions' boards and top-management teams in these challenging times.

Our unique one-firm approach, which facilitates collaboration across geographical and practice boundaries, enables us to bring highly skilled and experienced teams to the table, with proven expertise tailored to meet the needs of clients and achieve credibility with candidates and opinion leaders around the world.

By focusing on people and skills management in the context of a specific strategy, we help retail financial institutions to rethink their organizations and their winning value propositions.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure assets have grown rapidly over the last five years, with a massive increase in funds raised to invest in them globally. This has been due to a number of long-term structural trends, including governments' desire to raise funds, the ageing of the existing infrastructure in developed economies and the requirement for new infrastructure in developing economies, pension funds' need for a global asset class with a safe, dependable yield, and a desire by financial institutions to develop a new asset.

The current economic environment has increased infrastructures attraction as an asset class. With the virtual disappearance of real estate and fixed income from investment portfolios, they have been largely replaced by infrastructure. Governments are even more keen for cash as tax receipts have fallen and, with sharply falling return across most asset classes, infrastructure has stood out as the one class whose relative allocations have increased dramatically (many funds are in the process of increasing their absolute allocation). There is general acceptance that infrastructure asset deals will be the first to be completed once liquidity comes back to the market, given their more predictable, long-term cash flows.

Core infrastructure assets are defined as those assets with sustainable, long-term cash flows and include "regulated assets" (e.g. power, gas, water), "user-demand assets" (e.g. transport) and "social infrastructure assets" (e.g. hospitals, prisons). The players in the sector are changing, with less emphasis on publicly quoted infrastructure funds, and the addition of sovereign wealth funds, direct investors and, most recently, private equity.

The majority of talent requirements to date have been for fund professionals and the portfolio companies. At the funding level, a unique blend of skills is needed – the drive of an investment banker, the close scrutiny of a principal investor, the marketing ability of a fund raiser, the diligence and caution of a project financer, the knowledge of an operator and the personality to deal with government. This is also a segment that demands a sense of social responsibility, given the position of an asset in its community.

From a portfolio company perspective, there is increasing recognition that the executive management team is critical to performance, even in the most protected of regulated industries, and that the type of manager's profile changes with the economic environment. We see this as a major trend over the medium term, with a need to incentivize the "right" operational teams.

The emergence of this asset class has been phased geographically, so that only a firm with a truly integrated, international network of offices can operate effectively. We have been instrumental in supporting funds expanding into new international regions and assisting new types of entrants, such as private equity, to build new infrastructure teams. The fact that our firm is focused on the whole economy gives us current experience in all the critical segments (government, investment banking, asset management, private equity, corporate, fund raising, etc.) to allow a balanced perspective.

Deal size in this asset class is large and successful bidding often includes a consortium approach. We are well connected to the global infrastructure funds and understand their differing approaches to acquisition and the running of their asset portfolio. The parallels to private equity portfolio evolution (operating partners, etc.) are clear, and our involvement in this sector since its inception allows us to contribute relevant knowledge.

Our infrastructure client base includes infrastructure funders, fund raisers, corporate executives, board directors and governments. Our range of services includes both executive search and appraisal. Executive search includes infrastructure needs in governments, funds, fund raisers and the portfolio companies. In the latter case, we operate both at the point of ownership and during the process of bidding for an asset, as a new management team often needs to be assembled rapidly by the bidder to help secure the asset. Our appraisal advice is centered on both the Expert Network Report (individuals and teams), and the effectiveness of boards, which face unique challenges in infrastructure.

Darren & Associates' Infrastructure Practice is global in reach, and consists of a dedicated group of consultants from each of the major geographical markets, all of whom are passionate about, and experienced in, this segment – it is one that has great impact on the communities in which we live.

Infrastructure is one of the most global and "connected" segments, from both an acquisition and an asset management perspective, and thus ideally aligned with our own unique geographical "one-firm" structure. As the market develops geographically, we are applying our knowledge from existing infrastructure markets and other relevant segments. Our ability to build long- term relationships, fostered by our firm's structure, allows us to provide continuity of advice.