Associate, Financial Officer Practice

Spencer Stuart is one of the world’s leading executive search consulting firms.  Privately held since 1956, Spencer Stuart applies its extensive knowledge of industries, functions and talent to advise select clients and address their leadership challenges.  Through 56 offices in 30 countries and a broad range of practice groups, Spencer Stuart teams focus on senior-level executive search, board director appointments, succession planning and in-depth senior executive management assessments.

The successful search consulting team partners with an organization to select and recruit the “right leader” thus making a positive impact not only on the entire client organization but, in some cases, the industry itself.  In addition, a successful search, by definition, leads to a significant career progression for the executive moving to the new position.

Spencer Stuart is organized around industry and functional practices throughout all the major business sectors.  With senior consultants bringing direct industry experience and knowledge to its specialty practices, we are able to respond to, and advise on, clients’ unique recruitment needs.  

The Practice

Working across industries, Spencer Stuart’s Financial Officer Practice helps client organizations recruit exceptional finance leaders—including Chief Financial Officers, Treasurers, Controllers, division CFOs and heads of tax and audit.  In North America, the Financial Officer Practice leads approximately 600 executive searches per year for clients ranging from Fortune 50 companies to entrepreneurial startups.  Our clients include leading, blue chip companies, emerging technology players, universities, and non-profits.

We have 15 dedicated search consultants in North America (45 globally) with longstanding, personal relationships with the most sought-after leaders in finance.  These carefully nurtured relationships—combined with our global database that includes information on more than two million executives—afford us immediate access to the financial talent we seek.

Our global Financial Officer Practice is modeled to reflect the cross-border presence of our clients.  We operate within a global network, spanning strategic markets worldwide.  We collaborate in best teams across locations and practice areas to ensure that every search benefits from an optimal combination of industry, functional and geographic expertise.

Position Summary

Associates are integral members of search execution teams, combining research, consultative and advocacy skills to deliver extraordinary service to Spencer Stuart clients.

Associates partner with consultants on every search; specific tasks depend on the individual search but may include assisting with the development of strategy, constructing target lists of companies and candidates, coordinating internal and external research resources, contacting high-potential prospects, writing position specifications, conducting candidate interviews, completing progress reports, and documenting candidate qualifications and references.  Additional business development, research and counseling activities may occur in support of specific client or general firm initiatives.

Key Relationships

Reports to:

Director of Associates for West Coast Offices

Associate Practice Leader

Consultants (on assignment basis)

Key Relationships:

Practice Leader/Members

Office Manager

Associates, Senior Associates, and Consultants Firm wide

Research Analysts

Executive Assistants

Knowledge Managers and Practice/Knowledge Analysts

Global Information Services

Major Responsibilities

  • Contribute actively to the start-up phase of the search by participating in client kick-off meetings with the consultant and assisting in the development of the search strategy and target list of companies.
  • Gather relevant information regarding the appropriate industries and target companies, including identifying potential prospects and sources.
  • Represent client effectively in the marketplace and develop a comprehensive universe of qualified candidates by partnering with the consultant during the course of the assignment and observing aspects of confidentiality throughout the search process.  Anticipate needs to drive the search to closure and be prepared to supply additional information, such as related industry trends, market findings, reaction to the opportunity, compensation data, etc., gained during the course of a search.
  • Communicate effectively with the consultant and executive assistant and remain fully abreast of search developments.
  • Prepare organized information for the client progress report/meeting by teaming with the consultant and the executive assistant.  Provide an informed perspective on prospects/candidates and how they line up against the key selection criteria outlined by the client.
  • Ensure up to date assignment, company, and candidate information during the course of an assignment is always available for colleagues, by leveraging technology and information from the firm’s state-of-the-art, proprietary database (Quest).
  • Be aware of activities and changes in general business and in the industry/functional areas where specialized.  Add to the firm’s knowledge by identifying and beginning to develop expertise in a defined industry, functional or geographic candidate pool.
  • Be willing and proactive about contributing to local, practice or firm wide initiatives.  Coordinate and share practice related information to the KM for potentially broader distribution.
  • Adhere diligently to firm policies and standards for candidate validation, documentation and assessment.


Ideal Experience

  • At least five years of business experience in accounting, consulting, banking or a corporate organization. Prior experience in executive search is not required.
  • Strong academic credentials from a well-regarded university; a CPA or graduate degree is desirable.
  • Experience working in a client service environment and/or a role where multiple projects and competing demands are the norm. 

Critical Competencies for Success

The Spencer Stuart Associate will have the following attributes: 

  • Judgment and Assessment:  Ensures an efficient search process and quality outcome as measured by the time to complete an assignment and client satisfaction scores by maintaining expert knowledge of a candidate pool and an associated industry or functional area.  The successful Associate will do so in an environment where clients increasingly want to meet candidates quickly, the pool of interested candidates may be limited, and/or the role to be filled may not be viewed as attractive in the marketplace by:

    • Using knowledge of the market, a network of contacts, research tools and own experience to help develop the search strategy, provide an informed perspective, and help write a position specification that reflects the unique client requirements.
    • Proactively targeting and contacting the most important business leaders of today and tomorrow, making industry and third-party source calls to build candidate pool knowledge and to collect qualitative and quantitative information, and building credibility by demonstrating own knowledge of the industry and/or function.
    • Using own knowledge and experience to frame the right questions to elicit information from the prospect/candidate about their experience, competencies, compensation details and other relevant data, and then make sound recommendations to the consultant on the person’s relevance for the role.
    • Maintaining awareness of current business trends, staying abreast of economic news, reading the Wall Street Journal and industry-specific publications and remaining intellectually curious by asking questions and continually studying the business world.
  • Interpersonal Skills:  Enhance the efficiency of assignment execution and the quality of outcomes, as measured by the client’s comments and internal metrics, in a fast-paced environment where you compete for Consultant and client attention and “mind share” and work with multiple stakeholders of varying styles by:

    • Being authentic.
    • Listening and asking questions to clarify understanding and demonstrate knowledge.
    • Adapting own style to suit the communication needs of the other person.
    • Setting expectations and clarifying roles to avoid duplication of effort and wasting precious time and resources.
    • Raising issues early and finding solutions collaboratively to avoid problems.
    • Remaining poised when under pressure or handling unexpected challenges.
    • Distilling information from a variety of sources, developing an informed perspective and sharing that with others.
    • Conveying information in a compelling way, beyond “just the facts” that resonates with the needs and audience.
    • Sharing information with those who would benefit, including updating QuestNT.
  • Relationship Building:  Deepens knowledge of the candidate pool and access to senior executives while proactively increasing internal visibility, awareness of expertise, and the ability to contribute on best teams as measured by Practice Leader and Research Director feedback in a matrix environment beyond immediate assignment responsibilities.  The successful person will do this by:

    • Building an internal and external network in a thoughtful, strategic manner, ahead of needing it, through a genuine interest in others and willingness to be helpful in addressing their needs over time, without expectation of rewards.
    • Building trust and credibility with key people in his/her core network by being generous with his/her time and assistance, connecting people to others who might help, remembering things that are important to the person, and identifying areas of common interest.
    • Planning for and setting aside time for relationship building activities, including being opportunistic in identifying and using any and all opportunities to connect with his/her network and further his/her aim of building visibility and gaining knowledge.
    • Seeking out and working with others who have complementary strengths beyond those most often worked with, offering his/her help and ideas and incorporating their input and expertise.
    • Having a genuine interest in the development of others and offering his/her coaching as and when appropriate.
  • Project Management:  Plans, manages and drives own efforts to identify and develop a slate of quality candidates as measured by Consultant, client and candidate feedback.  The successful person will do this while handling multiple projects with competing deadlines, working with individuals who have differing styles, and managing challenging expectations by:

    • Taking ownership of the project by doing what is needed at all phases of the search process, anticipating next steps and not waiting to be told what to do.
    • Constantly reassessing priorities in own workload to realign resources where/when needed and proactively offering to do the same for the wider assignment team.
    • Working long hours and being available at all hours, committing to deadlines and communicating progress against them to the assignment team and/or client.  Delivering on commitments on-time or notifying as early as possible if deadlines will slip.
    • Leveraging the power of effective assessment and validation to surface quickly and efficiently outstanding, qualified candidates.
    • Adapting personal approach when working with clients and colleagues of varying styles by probing to uncover what is important to each and adjusting communications and approach accordingly.

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Spencer Stuart is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer F/M/Disability/Vet

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