September 19, 2016 – Financial services focused executive search firm Myriarch Advisors has been launched in St. Louis by Matt Huffman. The firm was founded, according to Mr. Huffman, to bring the blended experience of running a corporate executive recruiting function with a specialist executive search practice to clients in the financial services industry.
For close to 20 years, Mr. Huffman has designed and executed talent acquisition strategies for financial services firms, ranging from investment banks and global asset managers to insurance companies and wealth management firms.
Deep Wealth Management Talent Expertise
Most recently, he built and led the executive recruiting function for the corporate headquarters of Edward Jones, the third largest wealth management firm in the country. In this role he worked with the firm’s leaders on hiring strategy, led and executed executive searches across the entire broker dealer landscape, and represented Edward Jones to the executive talent marketplace. This role was specifically responsible for identifying, engaging, assessing, interviewing and hiring candidates for the firm’s most senior level leadership roles.
Prior to joining Edward Jones, Mr. Huffman operated niche executive search firm Capital Markets Recruiting Partners, specializing in the recruitment of mid to senior level professionals in the U.S. and global capital markets. The firm executed recruiting mandates in investment banking, equity research, institutional sales and trading, institutional asset management and private equity.
Before starting his own practice, he was senior vice president of an executive search firm specializing in the financial services industry. Placing dozens of senior financial services professionals, he was responsible for creating the overall sales and marketing approach of the firm to the capital markets and asset management community in the U.S. and abroad and for developing long term, sustainable relationships with the firm’s top clients.
Some Current Searches Underway
Myriarch Advisors is currently working with clients in wealth management, asset management, insurance, and banking. The engagements are largely in the financial infrastructure space: one assignment is to find a leader in the risk and compliance function within the investment advisory business of a large bank; another is to identify a strategic leader in the retirement space focused on product, distribution and engagement with the plan participants for a global asset management firm. The firm is also active in the trading sector; it currently is searching for a senior executive to oversee a fixed income trading platform.
“Our pipeline is largely based on regulatory transformation driving risk management, including actuarial and underwriting leaders for insurance company risk management, operational and investment risk for fee based platforms transitioning from commission based businesses, intermediary oversight for asset management firms, and investment professionals who can bring people leadership to transitioning platforms,” said Mr. Huffman.
In the following interview, Mr. Huffman discusses his transition back into executive search after serving on the corporate side of recruiting. He also takes us briefly inside financial services sector recruiting:
Matt, what appealed to you about leaving corporate recruiting and getting into search?
After spending several years on the executive search side prior to my corporate executive recruiting position, I felt comfortable with what to expect. But the driving force to make the change was based on instinct and clear opportunities that I saw within the executive search field. While my role at Edward Jones was a build role, meaning I was hired to build the function from scratch and to personally execute the firm’s senior most searches in the corporate headquarters, there were times when my team became saturated and we had to outsource. What I was looking for in a search partner was a specialist, not a middle market generalist, because financial services, particularly wealth management, is so incredibly specific, nuanced and transitional. But not just a specialist focused on C-level fees. The reality is, when you look at strategy development and execution at an enterprise level, the most crucial roles are not always in the C-suite, they are often at the mid to upper mid-level. Ironically, they also tend to be the most difficult to fill, and the least attended to by search firms large enough to have a specialist practice. This need is the basis for the founding of Myriarch Advisors. Over the course of my time in corporate executive recruiting, I was lucky to have developed relationships among my counterparts in the industry, and I decided to test-market the idea of the firm to them. Guess what I found? Every one of them agreed with me, that they were not happy with the service and results from search firms that were given key role assignments at the mid to upper mid-level (think of it as mezzanine).
Were larger firms not providing sufficient services when looking to fill positions?
The large firms gave them inadequate attention because the fee size was too small to warrant their focus, and the small firms had inconsistent results (or themselves only chased C-level fees). So I founded this firm to focus on strategically impactful, financial services infrastructure roles for our clients, at the mid to upper levels, where we know they need a specialist who understands their business, and the realities of leading a search from their perspective. I also saw the opportunity within the growing need for interim executive recruiting, which is surprisingly still an emerging area. With transformational regulatory issues affecting wealth management, we saw very few options for a search partner who could provide us with executive, subject matter expert talent on contract (acting as the legal W2 employer). Wealth management, capital markets, banking, insurance, and asset management are all sectors consisting of firms with the need to become much more agile, while working through their strategy for adapting to both regulation and market forces. We have a full interim function in place and we are currently using this contract solution with several clients to bring them the expertise and specialization to quickly acquire and assess talent at that level.
What experiences have you gained from the corporate side?
It’s been an invaluable experience. To be able to not only build something from scratch, but to do it as part of a large talent management function was a wonderful learning experience. In my role, I designed, led and participated in all of the executive level interview processes including the debrief sessions and third party candidate assessments. The level of depth that I was able to acquire as an internal executive recruiter with regard to not only talent assessment and consultation to senior leaders, but also knowledge about the industry and the functions of the business itself, was so much more than I expected. Much of my work was created from an annual talent review process, which we used to align the firm’s strategy, structure and talent. This process gave me tremendous exposure to the inner workings of the broker dealer, the ability to participate in role design and talent assessment, and the mandate to identify and acquire the talent needs of the firm in order to drive strategy. Also, it’s very interesting to be the client. When my team was at capacity and we had to outsource, we retained search partners, and our experience and results were not always positive. It’s very different to manage a search from the inside than from the outside, because you have so many more moving parts to align, and I don’t think the executive search side clearly understands that. It was very eye opening to become the client after 10 years of being on the other side of the table, and I learned that there is a tremendous opportunity to serve clients more deeply, and to bring them a richer experience from the standpoint of service, technology, speed, advice, and results.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media