Talent mis-match on SME boards is slowing routes to exit, new research claims

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Small to medium sized businesses across the UK are missing out on crucial funding opportunities due to the wrong individuals filling board level positions, according to 81 percent of venture capital fund managers.

The findings come from a new paper by executive search and interim management firm, Intramezzo. The report, A Board Fit for Purpose, found that due to a lack of good existing talent, over a quarter of respondents (32.5 percent of venture capital investors and 21 percent of corporate venture capital investors) always or frequently feel the need to replace existing CEOs.

It also found that the quality and strength of the leadership team is a top factor in decisions to invest in portfolio companies, with 85 percent of respondents stating that they are unlikely or highly unlikely to back a company that lacked the right skills.

“The makeup of the executive board is crucial to the success of any organisation, but more so for start-ups and high-growth businesses, where they do not yet necessarily have a proven business model or high-levels of revenue,” commented Dermot Hill, chief executive of Intramezzo.

The research study collated the responses of 100 corporate venture capital (CVC) and venture capital (VC) fund managers and looked at how these individuals make their investment decisions. It found that 90 percent of respondents are finding that sourcing candidates with the right skills and experience for leadership positions is the biggest challenge when making senior hires. Further to this, nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said that identifying skills gaps is a major or moderate challenge.

“Ambitious start-ups need a CEO in place who has the potential to be a leader of a £100m business, not just a £1m business. Thinking more strategically about identifying the talent that is needed as the business grows is key to achieving this,” Hill concluded.

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