Kennedy Executive Search Names Financial Services Practice Leader

July 11, 2019 – Kennedy Executive Search, a network of independent executive search firms, has named Markus Unterberger as practice leader of financial services. In this role, he will structure and guide Kennedy’s services in recruitment for leadership roles in the financial services industry across North America, South America and Europe.

Mr. Unterberger is a veteran in the financial services industry. He started working in executive search in 1999, with a primary focus on assignments in finance. In 2007, he founded Unterberger & Partner, an international executive search firm with offices in Munich, Frankfurt, Salzburg and Zurich. The firm places executives for a variety of international clients, specifically in German-speaking markets as well as Central and Eastern Europe. The firm specializes in, but is not limited to, the financial services industry, ranging from C-level assignments for banks, insurance companies as well as filling leading positions in digitalization, anti-financial crime, compliance, regulatory affairs, legal and security for companies within and outside of financial services.

“Their global scope, combined with a strong local footprint and boutique approach, is what makes Markus the ideal candidate for the role of practice leader financial services,” said Jorg Stegemann, chairman of Kennedy Executive Search. “It will be Markus’ job to structure Kennedy’s collective experience and knowledge of financial services and, combined with the experience of innovations in other industries present in the network, bring it to the next level.”

“His specific know-how and extensive experience in the industry, its culture and its challenges will benefit us, our clients and candidates, both existing and potential, looking to recruit or work in this challenging industry,” he said. “Together we are stronger. We are thrilled he agreed to take on this role.”

Like most, if not all industries, the financial services industry faces enormous challenges. “Digitization, cybercrime, regulatory compliance and the boom of fintech are but a few,” Kennedy Executive Search said. “Add to that the shift to a more customer-focused way of working, and it’s clear that the industry needs to redefine the way it recruits.”

Historically however, the financial services industry is one that tends to stick to ingrained methods and mindsets. This in turn gives the industry an old-fashioned, inert and dormant image, making it harder to attract young talent. Unjust, as the industry offers an abundance of promising career opportunities.

“Classic skill-sets required for the financial services industry are not enough anymore,” said Mr. Unterberger. “The new generation of talent also needs competences like sensibility, customer centricity, team management and practical knowledge of tech, digitization and working in an agile environment. We often meet candidates who have all requirements needed, but who are reluctant to consider a career in the industry. Its unjust reputation does not appeal to them.”

“On the other hand, companies in financial services looking for new talent are hesitant to hire people from outside of the industry, or who don’t fit the exemplary but outdated image they so adamantly hold on to,” Mr. Unterberger said. “It’s a bit of a Catch 22 really. As a network of executive search professionals, we feel it is our job to educate both. Clients need to think and look outside of the box and candidates need to be made aware of the endless and exciting opportunities the industry has to offer.”


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Kennedy Executive Search offers “360 talent management,” as the firm calls it – from executive search to coaching during a placement’s integration period, and a host of other talent and leadership consulting services. With Unterberger & Partner joining, the network now has offices in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the U.S.

Global Expansion

The organization recently expanded into Washington, D.C. with the addition of TH Bender as a member firm. TH Bender has completed over 300 search assignments, 90 percent commissioned by companies outside of the U.S., including dozens for country managers guiding the North American operations of European and Asian corporations. The firm focuses on the recruiting needs of non-American companies across the high-tech, industrial, financial, life-sciences, energy and automotive industries. Tilman Bender, who still leads many of its search assignments, founded the company in 2005.

Recently, Kennedy appointed Louise Royer as marketing director. She is responsible for building and executing marketing strategies to support the growth of the network. She will also be in charge of brand development strategies. Ms. Royer will assume her responsibilities immediately.

Lastly, Kennedy also named Carl Lens as managing director EMEA. Mr. Lens is co-founder and owner of Kennedy’s Dutch partner office, Lens, Executive Search based in Amsterdam. Before founding his firm, he was global head of healthcare for London-based recruitment firm Nicholson. Prior to his latest appointment, Mr. Lens was managing director for Europe for the network.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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