September 19, 2016 – Spencer Stuart has been retained by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to find its next president and chief executive officer. It is one of the nation’s top financial services leadership posts up for grabs, but the search process could face tough scrutiny as activists and Democratic politicians call to make the process of selecting regional federal bank presidents more open. Dennis P. Lockhart is stepping down from his position next February, when he faces mandatory retirement under central bank rules.
Spencer Stuart senior partner Thomas T. Daniels, consultant John Harpole and executive recruiter Toby Donovan are leading the assignment.
What is likely to complicate this search and make the Atlanta Fed president post looked at from more angles than usual is this: the three newest regional bank presidents all worked for investment bank Goldman Sachs.
A Nationwide Search Forced Into Total Transparency
Thomas Fanning, president and CEO of Southern Company and chair of the Atlanta Fed’s board of directors, will lead a search committee comprised of non-banking members of the Atlanta Fed’s board of directors. This committee will conduct a nationwide search, seeking a diverse slate of candidates to replace Mr. Lockhart.
There is no set timetable for naming a new leader. Should a successor not be appointed by next February, the bank’s first vice president and chief operating officer, Marie Gooding, will assume the duties of president on an interim basis until a new president is appointed, in accordance with Section 4 of the Federal Reserve Act.
Will Short Lists Be Leaked?
The Atlanta Fed is committed to making the recruitment process totally transparent, according to insiders familiar with the search, opening up the possibility of confidentiality breaches. The bank is planning a public webcast during the first week of October to explain the search process and answer questions. Short lists of candidates are likely to be made public, whether by design or not, complicating the work of the search firm tasked with managing the executive candidate pool.
The incumbent president of the Atlanta Fed will report to its board of directors and be accountable to the board of governors in Washington, D.C. The president of the bank serves as a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee every three years, with the next rotation in 2018. The president is expected to collaborate with the other bank presidents, as well as system leaders, on a host of system functions.
As CEO, the president manages and sets strategic direction for the bank and its 1,700 employees in Atlanta, at its branches spread across more than 25 states. The bank’s annual operating budget in 2015 was $323 million.
The ideal candidate will have respected credentials in macroeconomics or recognized, demonstrated stature in a field that contributes information vital to monetary policymaking. The chosen leader will have demonstrated executive leadership and managerial ability with a track record of people management for a sizable and diverse organization. The bank is also looking for an executive with international business, government, or economic experience.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta serves the Sixth Federal Reserve District, which encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia and portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. As part of the United States central banking system, the Atlanta Fed participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous banking organizations, and provides a variety of payment services to financial institutions and the U.S. government.
The financial services sector represents fully one-fifth of Spencer Stuart’s worldwide client base. Its financial industry search specialists have conducted more than 5,100 searches since 2011, on average more than 1,000 annually. The firm partners with financial services entities to find talent across a spectrum of related sectors and capabilities, including asset management; consumer financial services; financial technology; global banking and markets; insurance; private wealth management; real estate; and risk.
Mr. Daniels, the lead recruiter on this assignment, is a member of Spencer Stuart’s financial officer, financial services, private equity, board services and diversity practices. He’s been involved in senior level assignments for clients that include large multinationals, midcap, emerging growth, private equity and alternative asset management companies as well as organizations such as the Federal Reserve, International Accounting Standards Board and FINRA.
Mr. Harpole is a New York-based member of the firm’s financial services and asset management practices. He has more than 20 years of advisory and institutional investment experience encompassing public equities, alternative- and real-assets.
Mr. Donovan handles C-level and other senior appointments across financial services, including retail and wholesale banking, asset management, alternative investments (including hedge funds and private equity), payments, and credit cards.
This latest Spencer Stuart search assignment comes on the heels of The Hellenic Financial Stability Fund tapping the firm four months ago to undertake a review of the country’s four big bank boards as part of a drive to crack down on how members are chosen. The evaluation, one of the commitments Greece made in order to receive its third international bailout, is aimed to boost board level expertise and improve corporate governance, a specialty market offering of Spencer Stuart.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media