Skip to content

Expanding Your C-Level Team or Hiring an OCIO: Which Is Better for Your Firm?

c level team

No matter the size of your firm, your C-level leaders play a critical role in its overall functionality and success. Teamwide cohesion and progress trickle down from the top — which means your Chief Investment Officer (CIO) and other senior leaders must be high-functioning, motivated, and aligned with the firm’s greater growth initiatives.

Sometimes, employees (even C-level employees) turn out not to be a good fit for your firm. Or, just when the pace is quickening, they move on to new opportunities — leaving you struggling to find a suitable replacement fast.

This leaves you with a dilemma… Is it better to roll the dice and hire internally again or outsource responsibilities to a third party? Let’s explore this important decision, specifically as it applies to a CIO.  

Should You Hire Internally to Replace Your CIO?

Adding a new internal hire to your team is no easy feat, especially when you’re replacing someone at the C-suite level. The process is time-consuming, payroll and benefits are expensive, and the decision is fairly inflexible. Should the person you end up bringing on not be a good fit, or should their investment philosophy evolve away from yours over time, it creates a stressful work environment that may not ease up for years.

As we mentioned earlier, your entire team’s success relies on the leadership they receive from the highest team members (which certainly includes your CIO). For that reason, who you put in these positions of power are the most important hiring decisions you’ll ever make — which puts an immense amount of pressure on both you and the people you’re hiring. 

Even if you do hire an incredibly capable CIO who embodies every trait you’ve been looking for in a leader, there’s always the underlying risk that they’ll leave or retire. When that happens, you must start the process all over again — which can be a daunting journey that takes valuable time away from important client work.

While there are many instances in which hiring a new CIO internally works out well, it’s certainly worth considering the alternative — hiring an outsourced CIO (OCIO) instead. Or, in many cases, hiring an OCIO to support your newly hired CIO during the transition (or even on an ongoing basis).

What Is an OCIO?

An OCIO can manage all of the same investment-related responsibilities of an internal hire, without the added risk of leaving suddenly or being a poor team culture fit. They can still help you make forward-focused decisions about your firm, and even provide a professional, unbiased second opinion on any investment-related matters. 

Depending on what you’re looking for in an OCIO, they can be client-facing or work entirely behind the scenes to support your other advisors and staff. Some firms choose, for example, to forward emails with investment-related questions from clients to their OCIO, — which ensures a timely, accurate response and saves the initial advisor the time and hassle.

If you are weighing your options and considering an OCIO, they should be vetted carefully — just as you would with an internal hire. You’ll want to determine if their approach, investment philosophy, and strategies align with your firm’s positioning. Just like an internal CIO, an OCIO plays an integral role in your firm, so you’ll certainly want to be sure you’re partnering with one you can trust and feel comfortable leaning on as needed to address your clients’ concerns.

See an OCIO In Action

East Bay Investment Solutions has helped a number of advisory firms by stepping in to replace internal CIOs who, for various reasons, leave their firms.

Let’s take a look at one recent incident in which East Bay helped one firm address the missing gap in their C-suite level team.

Firm owner, we’ll call him Josh, approached us because his CIO left quickly and unexpectedly, which left him in a lurch. Josh was, understandably, frustrated by the situation and torn on what his next move should be.

Looking at his options, he considered at first hiring another individual to become the firm’s new CIO. But, he was worried that he’d be stuck in the same position a few years from now if that person decided to leave too.

Then, he heard about East Bay and scheduled a meeting with our team. He found that our investment philosophy was a good fit for his firm, and he saw that the scope of services we offered suited his firm well. He felt much more comfortable knowing that years from now, we weren’t just going to leave him and shut our doors. As OCIOs, we provided him with more long-term stability than an internal hire would.

He also liked the idea that if someone on the East Bay team were to go on vacation, there’d be another person there to still provide ongoing, uninterrupted support.

Should Your Next Hire Be an OCIO?

When it comes time to replace your CIO, you need an option that provides stability and ongoing support. Having a knowledgeable and responsive OCIO can bring you the peace of mind and freedom that comes with knowing your investment-related tasks and responsibilities are well-cared for. To learn more about East Bay Investment Solutions and our OCIO services for RIAs, contact us today.