Blackwood’s client is a very successful privately held company which was looking to expand outside of its core business to start up a financial betting and trading marketplace. The thesis was to be a unique opportunity to offer binaries, spreads and CFDs to retail customers on an exchange. The business was to leverage off an existing client base and use some very strong existing technology and funding from the parent company
Blackwood worked closely with the new head of corporate development of this business, a former IT director from the parent company, to recruit for this role, by default his future boss. The challenge for the successful candidate was to build and operate an innovative business and provided visionary leadership in a new area for the broader business. The remit was to become the number one in a competitive market and create the world’s largest retail derivatives exchange. The brief was to find someone who had run a P&L in a financial services institution or FSA regulated environment and who had international experience. The person needed to have strong industry knowledge as well as being well networked within the industry. This background needed to be balanced with someone who was entrepreneurial, had strong people and diplomacy skills and good management credentials.
There were three possible buckets for this person to come from: investment banking or trading, an existing financials spread betting business or someone who had moved into broader financial services but understood trading and the markets well. The financial trading incumbents were easy to research but difficult to attract the right calibre person from, mainly because the industry is very diverse and not always of the highest calibre. There are also many founder entrepreneurs who are too expensive to move. The candidates from banking who were not too expensive to move had limited P&L and management experience. The cultural fit was also key as this person needed to fit with the broader management team of the group.
Blackwood appointed a former Capital Markets MD from one of the major houses who had spent two years in a COO role and therefore had more management and operational experience than most bankers. There were 3 shortlisted candidates who met the board, one from each of the three buckets. Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.