When Appointing Your Next Non-Executive Director, Make Sure They Are Not “Overboarding”

One of Livingston James’ key services is introducing our clients to our network of Non-Executive Directors (NXDs).  Over the past two quarters we have seen a sharp increase in the uptake of this due to the current volatile market conditions. 

Our clients are looking to shore up their leadership teams with experienced NXDs that can help steer them through these turbulent times.  At the same time, we have seen more aspiring NXDs looking to add to their experience with non-paid board roles, planning for their eutopia later career where they have a portfolio of NXD roles which they manage between holidays and retirement hobbies.

However, even this portfolio Eutopia needs balance.  This was highlighted in a Financial Times article this month which caught our eye.  It discussed the practice of “overboarding,” in which a company’s executives hold multiple positions across different organisations. This practice has been criticised for its potential to dilute the attention and focus of executives, leading to poor performance in their roles.

The article cites a study by the University of Oxford and consultancy firm Willis Towers Watson, which found that companies with overboarding executives underperformed those without, by 2.5%. Additionally, the study found that companies with higher levels of overboarding were more likely to engage in financial misconduct, suggesting that regulators and investors should take steps to limit overboarding and hold companies accountable for the actions of their executives.

At Livingston James we work closely with boards to understand exactly what is required and assess the impact that our clients require and expect from their NXD appointments.  We look at their capacity as part of this.  Occasionally we see serial directors, but in reality, the best NXDs will balance their portfolio to ensure they are not overboarding. However, whether you are PE backed or a family business, it is certainly something to take into consideration on that next appointment.

Throughout 2023 we are evolving our NXD services and will be hosting a series of NXD events planned to educate and entertain our network.  Follow Livingston James on LinkedIn to keep up to date with the latest event news.

If you are looking to grow your portfolio (without overboarding!) or are looking to appoint an NXD, please reach out at [email protected]

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