Real Estate Partner Search – London
Our real estate team recently worked on a retained search for one of our international clients. The client has one of the best regarded real estate teams across London, the US and Asia and wanted to grow their London practice and to make a transformational hire. They had looked for the right fit unsuccessfully for over 2 years and had 2 undertaken unsuccessful searches with 2 different agencies. The head of the team made it clear that this would be their last “throw of the dice” and if it didn’t work then it was back to the drawing board and a review of the strategy. We worked with the client to identify the type of profile they needed to achieve the growth they wanted. We established the “sell” and got agreement from all the stakeholders. We looked at the previously unsuccessful searches and identified areas that we thought we could revisit where the ‘sell’ had been misunderstood and people that had been missed out.
We worked closely with the Global and UK Heads of Real Estate as well as their Head of Partner Recruitment to understand the structure of the real estate group and their strategy.
The firm’s real estate department was in growth mode and was looking to strengthen its real estate capabilities with the recruitment of a partner as part of its continued commitment to the area. Given the firm’s already substantial global and London real estate capabilities and enviable client list, the successful candidate:
- had to be from a leading real estate practice and a “name” in the market to help take the team to the next level;
- would augment the Londo team with experience in any of the following: Hotels and Leisure, Investment, Corporate and Private Equity;
- had to have an exceptional portable following that would be transformative to the team.
In addition to the above criteria, any lateral hire had to be an excellent cultural fit, a team player and demonstrate their ability to thrive within the firm’s fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment.
The first step was to map the market. Using our understanding of the real estate market and our extensive research capability, we mapped out the leading real estate partners in top firms, using our understanding of the partners’ client-bases and work types plus the partnership structures at each firm to identify those that were most likely to match our client’s requirements.
We had to be very conscious of how small and well networked the high value real estate market is in London, particularly at the experience level our client wanted, so discretion was crucial when information gathering prior to agreeing a shortlist of partners who would be perfect for the role.
In addition, because only a small percentage of the market is ever active or open to opportunities at any one time, our success depends on understanding our client firm and the firms of potential candidates. By identifying potential push and pull factors for each of our target candidates, we can immediately identify candidates who may be more susceptible to a targeted approach and increase the potential for successfully progressing those partners to interview stage.
Once the list was finalised, we approached partners, conducting preliminary meetings and using competency-based questions to evaluate their skills and suitability as well as push / pull factors before moving on to first meetings with the client. In some situations, we discovered that partners would not be appropriate for the role and they did not proceed to interview stage.
Part of the process was ensuring we had multiple interviews running concurrently so that our client could directly compare CVs, personalities and likely fit. By running the interview processes in this manner, it is easier to quickly identify partners that stand out from the rest. In this case, after the initial interview stages there was one partner who, in addition to ticking all the technical boxes, had the potential to open up new supply lines and opportunities for the firm and really aid in the development of the real estate group.
This partner was soon asked to complete a business plan and video conference with the global real estate group. We supported the partner with their business plan and liaised throughout to ensure all meetings / video conferences went smoothly. By keeping close contact with our client and the partner we were able to support both sides through every stage of the process.
Following two unsuccessful searches, the hire of a high profile and well-respected partner who absolutely fits their brief, their culture and is excited to be a part of their growth strategy. This was more than they had expected but exactly what they hoped for.
Corporate partner search – London
A longstanding client asked us to assist them with the hire of a corporate partner as part of their firm’s continued growth and diversification. The firm has a significant private wealth focus and their aim is to become the leading firm for private individuals and their businesses. The growth of their corporate practice was core to this aim and, despite talking to a number of individuals independently, they had not had success in finding a partner who met their criteria.
Having worked with the firm for a number of years and across a number of practice areas, we already had a good understanding of their culture, strategy and core sectors, meaning we were well placed to find candidates who would perfectly fit their requirements.
The mainstay of the corporate business was primarily real estate corporate work, working closely with good quality banking, tax and employment. The aim of the hire was to diversify the corporate group into areas which were synergistic to the firm’s wider client base of owner managed businesses, HNWIs, family offices and smaller PE houses.
Working with the head of corporate, the managing partner and the HR director, we were able to truly understand their needs and agreed the criteria:
- A rainmaker who could support the current practice head at a more senior level.
- The candidate would have good management skills and would be able to support the development of the junior partners and associates in the team.
- The candidate needed to be excited about the potential to build a practice and develop something complementary to other teams within the firm.
Having agreed the criteria, we were given the mandate to find a suitable candidate for the role. The firm’s trust in us and our understanding of their business and strategy meant that we were able to identify potential candidates from less obvious target firms and work creatively to find the right partner.
As it happens, the right partner came from an accountancy firm. While the partner was very happy and successfully leading a team dedicated to private business, the challenge of developing and building a challenger to leading firms in his market raised enough curiosity for him to want a first meeting.
The first interview confirmed what we had felt from our conversations with the candidate, that his practice would be an ideal fit and his experience of growing a team meant that he would be in a great position to help with the strategic growth of the team. However, the issue remained that while the partner enjoyed the meeting and could see that our client would be a good fit for his practice, he was happy at his firm and did not really have any push factors. This placed all the emphasis on the pull factors of the role.
The partner agreed to a second meeting with the managing partner to understand more about firm and their strategy. Working with the firm we helped them to identify the areas which would most appeal to the partner and to develop a strategy outlining how his hire would positively impact the firm.
Working closely with the head of corporate and the managing partner, we were able to share the vision for the corporate team, demonstrating the support from management and the clear firm-wide strategy which was invested in corporate growth. The candidate was quickly able to understand the firm’s commitment to the corporate group and, more specifically, their aim to build a market leading practice for private business and his role in achieving that. Through conversations with us and those we arranged with the firm he soon understood the potential to build something genuinely exciting from their platform and was committed to the move.
We then worked with the head of corporate and the candidate to develop a joint business plan which set out their goals and the opportunities which would result from such a significant hire. It was clear that this hire would be transformational for both the corporate team and the firm as a whole and the firm was keen to make the hire. We advised the candidate through offer and acceptance to resignation and he was able to join his new firm sooner than expected.
For our client, hiring a corporate partner whose practice and experience fits so perfectly with their firmwide sector focus, who has the ambition to build a leading practice, means that they are able to take the next step in their strategic growth.
Arbitration partner search – Paris
A longstanding client, whom we knew well in London, wanted to hire an arbitration partner in Paris. The hire needed to dovetail with the London arbitration team as well as create cross referral opportunities for other teams in Paris. The London team reached out to V&P because of our intricate knowledge of their firm and our track record in Paris.
The driver behind the recruitment was the London arbitration team: this hire was business critical to them and continuing to provide a top tier arbitration offering to clients. The London team wanted a partner that would fit in terms of practice and work style. The Paris team wanted a partner they felt they could get along with as well as someone who might create opportunities for other practice areas in Paris outside of arbitration. While we had not worked with the Paris team previously, our relationship with the team in London and track record of work in Paris led them to trust our experience to retain us to help them with the search. We then focussed on understanding the separate and shared requirements.
We agreed the remit as:
- A French qualified partner focussed on arbitration in Paris;
- A partner working in some of the firm’s core sectors ideally including energy and infrastructure;
- A partner with some experience of arbitration linked to Francophone Africa;
- A partner who would cross sell to the Paris team (outside of disputes) while augmenting the London arbitration offering.
The first step was to map the market. We used our longstanding knowledge of the Paris disputes world and research capability to map the arbitration market. We then created a shortlist of partners who worked in the firm’s core sectors and had Francophone African links. Using our knowledge of the London team we were able to identify people who fitted their criteria. Through careful analysis of the Paris team’s requirement we were able to further focus on a shortlist of people who would create opportunities for them and with whom we felt they could work.
After agreeing the target shortlist we met with most of the target candidates and then presented our findings and the partners we suggested progressing to interview stage. We were careful to understand and present the ‘added value’ for both the London and Paris teams to ensure they bought in to the hire.
Initially the client had a number of great quality partners in play, however, as the discussions progressed, one partner stood out and whom we supported through the interview process in Paris and London. This partner fit all the criteria bur had not been looking to move when we approached them. However, throughout the interview discussions, we along with the London and Paris teams were able to demonstrate the opportunity this firm could provide the partner and his practice.
Business plans and a focussed 12-month plan were created with the London and Paris teams so that the shared opportunity was understood and all parties agreed their role in achieving the plan.
We supported the partner through acceptance and resignation. This included helping them to analyse and eventually refuse a counter-offer from their firm. We also helped the London team to structure an offer which had to take into consideration the specifics of French lawyers taxation. The timing was managed so the partner could immediately begin marketing with his new team at scheduled International Arbitration events.
We were pleased to support a longstanding client and build deeper relationships with the global firm. The London and Paris teams were happy to have a known name in the Paris arbitration market join and improve the client service and profile of both offices. The partner also helped to immediately improve their directory rankings as well as becoming a highly valued member of the firm.