RSR Partners Acquires Higdon Partners

January 12, 2017 – RSR Partners has acquired executive search firm Higdon Partners. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1986 by Hank Higdon, Higdon Partners focuses exclusively on providing executive search services to asset and wealth management clients, including institutional, mutual fund, and high-net-worth organizations, as well as hedge funds, fund of funds, plan sponsors, endowments and foundations, private equity firms, family offices, consulting firms, and government agencies.

The firm conducts searches for assignments at leadership levels, including chief executive officer, chief operating officer, and chief investment officer, as well as for senior professionals within the functional areas of investments, marketing, sales, client service, finance, human resources, risk management, and legal.

“With proxy access and the trend toward greater shareholder-director engagement, active institutional asset managers are increasingly shaping board composition and decision making,” said Brett Stephen, RSR Partners CEO. “Combining our board advisory capabilities with Higdon Partners’ renowned asset management expertise uniquely positions our firm at the increasingly important nexus of institutional shareholders and corporate boardrooms to provide unparalleled strategic counsel and leadership advice.”

“Over the past 30 years, we have recruited many of the most successful asset management professionals in institutional and alternative asset management, academic and philanthropic endowments, and family offices,” said Hank Higdon, who becomes RSR Partners’ new vice chairman. “We are thrilled to be joining RSR Partners; their resources will enhance the breadth and reach of our ability to serve our prestigious client base.”

Graham Michener, head of the firm’s financial services practice, added: “We are excited by the addition of the Higdon Partners team. This combination not only helps fill a void in our financial services practice, but also brings some of the best and brightest search talent in the asset management arena to RSR Partners and, more importantly, our clients.”

Former Colleagues Reunite

“Hank Higdon, Jane Bierwirth, Maryann Bovich, Ed Fowler, Meg Morris, and the entire Higdon Partners team are some of the most experienced and respected professionals in asset management recruiting and advisory,” said Russell S. Reynolds Jr., RSR founder and chairman. “They are a wonderful addition to our financial services capabilities.”

Mr. Higdon is a former colleague of Mr. Reynolds, the entrepreneurial founder of Russell Reynolds Associates. Mr. Higdon spent 15 years there, where he worked in New York for six years before establishing and building out the firm’s Houston office. He then moved to Los Angeles to manage Reynolds’ West Coast operations that included offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Menlo Park. For a time, he served on the firm’s five-person executive committee. In early 1986, Mr. Higdon departed Russell Reynolds Associates along with David Joys and Larry Mingle to spin off Higdon, Joys & Mingle, the predecessor boutique to Higdon Partners. Higdon, Joys & Mingle dissolved in 1997.

Growing M&A Activity Among Recruiters

M&A activity among executive search firms has picked up in recent months, from the Far East to Canada, the Americas and across the U.K. & Europe. Whether this points to mass consolidation throughout the sector remains to be seen. Here is a look at just a recent sampling from the Hunt Scanlon archives:

  • DHR International acquired Calgary-based executive search firm BluEra. The deal brings more than a dozen new employees to DHR and its Chicago-based partner company Jobplex. Founded in 2008, BluEra focuses on executive search, team transformation and executive coaching. It serves a wide array of industries with a particular concentration on the renewables, power, oil & gas, retail, telecommunications, and information technology sectors.
  • Diversified Search acquired San Francisco-based BioQuest, a recruiting boutique specialist serving healthcare innovators in the life sciences market. Under the terms of the agreement, BioQuest will operate as an independent, wholly-owned subsidiary within Diversified Search. With $37.5 million in annual fees prior to this acquisition, the deal with BioQuest will boost revenues at Diversified Search by about 10 percent and bring the firm’s consultant headcount to nearly 60.
  • Options Group recently acquired Broadstreet Global, a financial services search and strategic consulting firm based in Sydney, Australia. Broadstreet Global specializes in search and consulting for a number of interrelated sectors, including investment banking, capital markets, structured products, alternative asset classes and insurance. Its client base includes some of the world’s largest financial institutions, regional banks, asset managers, insurers and selective boutiques.
  • Heidrick & Struggles acquired Philosophy IB, a leadership consultant based in Florham Park, NJ. Philosophy IB was established in 2000 by founding partners Christine Lotze and Kaveh Naficy and today serves Fortune 100 companies focused on assisting clients execute their strategies by changing how people work. Heidrick also recently acquired JCA Group, a well-known London-based executive search advisory boutique. JCA Group is led by founding partners Jan Hall and Emma Fallon, and has 40 employees, including eight partners. The firm has been a leader in addressing gender disparity among boards, as a policy advocate and in placing women on boards in both non-executive and executive roles.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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