A Look into the Canadian Executive Search Landscape

Launched in 2021, Massey Henry is an executive search and board advisory firm specializing in financial services and the public sector. Michael Henry is the founder and managing partner of the firm. He said the firm’s aim was to set a new standard for executive recruiting with a streamlined, collaborative approach that enables organizations to recruit diverse top talent for urgent, transformational roles. Mr. Henry specializes in leadership recruitment for financial institutions, asset management, insurance, financial and risk management, and securities and non-securities regulation organizations across Canada. In addition to his core executive search work, he serves as an advisor to boards of directors on their overall composition, capabilities, and succession planning strategies at public sector and financial services institutions. Mr. Henry recently sat down to discuss his firm’s approach to executive search and some trends he is seeing in the Canadian market.

February 9, 2024 – Michael, explain Massey Henry’s approach to filling senior positions.

As specialists in financial services executive search for organizations across North America, our approach is guided by our nuanced understanding of the industry, as well as the deep network and functional expertise we have established for key senior level mandates at the VP, C-suite, and board levels. We also leverage
the unique network and insights of our esteemed advisory board, made up of distinguished leaders in the financial services sector. When conducting a senior executive engagement, we emphasize client collaboration, which includes frequent updates on candidate progression, detailed screening and interviewing processes, and a high touch communication approach. We supplement this with in-house psychometric assessment services customized to develop a data-driven understanding of how a candidate demonstrates
the values and leadership competencies sought for the position. Lastly, to further ensure a diverse slate of candidates, we leverage key partnerships with equity-seeking organizations to reach an extended network of contacts.

Does the firm use AI at all, if so, how it is used?

Yes, we leverage a collaborative and transparent engagement process that uses enhanced digital tools to identify skilled candidates with the right organizational fit. This includes being able to search for candidates based on key skillsets and functions. We also provide clients with the option to integrate their decision team into a customized workspace dedicated to the executive recruitment process, augmented by an AI-enabled CRM search engine.

What are some current trends within the financial services sector in Canada that you are currently seeing?

Alternative providers of capital will play a critical role in the evolution of the industry, which will result in executive challenges in the areas of distribution, asset allocation and regulation. There continues to be an emphasis on digital transformation across the industry, and the importance of identifying executives who are able to further drive this initiative with key skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and risk management. The ability to navigate the workforce of the future – both in hiring practices, and in preparing for its demands – will be critical. As a result of this, the industry will continue to see increased investment in digital upskilling initiatives.

How important in Canada is it for candidates to speak both English and French?

The importance of being bilingual in French and English can vary depending on the specific job, industry, and location. However, bilingualism in these languages can be a significant asset in many professional contexts. The significance of bilingualism is dependent on factors such as industry (e.g., financial regulators in government), function, and geographic reach of the role (e.g., a position with oversight of French-speaking regions).

How are strong are DEI efforts for Canadian organizations?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts in Canadian organizations have gained prominence in recent years, reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces. While the level of commitment and progress can vary across different organizations, sectors, and regions, there is a general trend toward prioritizing DEI initiatives, in alignment with global industry trends. However, as organizations face financial challenges given current economic conditions, it will be important for them to continue recognizing the value of tapping into a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and talents to foster innovation and serve diverse customer bases.

How do you go about providing a diverse slate of candidates when conducting searches?

With more than 65 percent of our placed candidates identifying as women and/or BIPOC individuals, and typically 50 percent of our shortlists for an executive search made up of equity-seeking groups, we are one of the leading executive search firms in Canada in ensuring representation for our clients. While our approach to ensuring a diverse slate varies based on the individual factors of a search, we typically incorporate processes that: ensure accessibility; limit unconscious bias in the assessment process; leverage inclusive language and processes; supports self-disclosure; leverage key strategic partnerships with equity-seeking organizations; and ensures geographic and bilingual representation.

What are some industries that are currently keeping Massey Henry busy today?

Within financial services, Massey Henry continues to see a sustained interest in succession planning mandates at the C-suite level, as well as a focus on hiring executives for key functions such as risk, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and customer experience.

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