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Issue 16 April 2015



Top Story

Family Businesses: What Sets the Best Apart From the Rest?

“Family gravity” and structured CEO succession drive the performance and longevity of family businesses, reveals recent research by Egon Zehnder and the Family Business Network International. Executives at 50 of the world’s top family firms – mostly in the third or fourth generation – were interviewed to discover how they unlock great leadership. The firms studied have at least one key family member at the center of their organization who preserves their clearly-defined values and common vision, write Sonny Iqbal and Jörg Ritter, co-leaders of Egon Zehnder’s global family-business advisory, and Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser at Egon Zehnder, in the Harvard Business Review. Top family firms also take a structured approach to CEO succession with a clear hierarchy for candidates: family first, internal talent second and external executives third, note the authors. Embracing these practices positions family firms for accelerated growth and more resilient, long-term performance.

> Read the full article: Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, Sonny Iqbal and Jörg Ritter,
“Leadership Lessons from Great Family Businesses” in Harvard Business Review (April 2015)

> View also: Stefan Stern, “Shared values secure family businesses” in Financial Times (16thApril 2015)


Trends

CEOs: Be Visible – but Humble

CEOs with a high media profile enhance a company’s reputation, reports Fortune magazine. According to a recent survey of 1,700 senior executives by Weber Shandwick, 81% of participants described “CEO visibility” as critical to a company’s reputation. On average, they ascribed 45% of their companies’ reputation to that of their top executive. But being visible in 2015 definitely does not mean coming across as over-confident or ubiquitous in a company’s advertising. On the contrary, humility – or the desire to achieve it – is considered critical for well-regarded chief executives.

> Full story: Jennifer Reingold, “The CEO paradox: You’ve got to be visible…but humble” in Fortune magazine (5th March 2015)

More: Egon Zehnder's Communications and Public Affairs Practice


Functional

CFOs /CMOs: the Top Line Dream Team

Companies looking for top line growth should get their Chief Financial and Marketing Officers to team up. CFOs/CMO partnerships can streamline and improve investments in big data and analytics to harness valuable customer insights and help their companies translate information into profit. Both executives also stand to benefit from each other’s expertise, writes Bill Fuessler in Forbes magazine. CFOs can offer forecasting experience in assessing potential new revenue streams, while CMOs can make greater use of jointly agreed metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns. Although CFO/CMO alliances are just beginning to form, Fuessler expects them to spread fast in the future.

> Full story: Bill Fuessler, “The C-Suite’s Newest Power Couple: CFO and CMO” in Forbes magazine (23th March 2015)

For further insight: “CMO redefined” – Egon Zehnder experts Wan May Ang, Rory Finlay, Michael Meier, and Dick Patton explore how the role of the Chief Marketing Officer is quickly diversifying across five critical axes, ranging from “digital expert vs. marketing traditionalist” to “sophisticated strategist vs. entrepreneurial trailblazer”.


Industry

Financial Services: Bankers Seek Exciting Silicon Valley Jobs

Bankers are increasingly looking for innovative financial technology jobs in Silicon Valley, reports Bloomberg. In many cases they are setting up start-ups offering risk management, data analytics and trading platforms. Eric Anderson, leader of Egon Zehnder’s financial technology practice confirms this trend. He speculates that bankers are now willing to take huge temporary wage cuts and risks based on the belief that they can outstrip slow-moving banks. In a New York Times interview Egon Zehnder’s Martha Josephson says the trend also marks a bid for greater freedom. “Just the thought of […] going to meetings where you’re discussing a regulated industry where it’s increasingly difficult to innovate – most of the people I talk to don’t find that prospect appealing” explains Josephson.

> Full story: Christopher Langner, “Why Bankers Are Leaving Finance for No-Salary Tech Jobs” on Bloomberg (15th March 2015) and Nathaniel Popper and Conor Dougherty, “Wall St. Stars Join Silicon Valley Gold Rush” in The New York Times (24th March 2015)

More: Egon Zehnder’s Financial Services Practice

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