Meet the Team | 5-Star Executive Search Firm & CFO Consulting | Cowen Partners

      What is the Difference Between Retained & Contingent Executive Search Firms?

      We get this question a lot and if a client doesn’t ask, we still want to explain the difference between contingent and retained executive search firms:

      • With retained search firms, the “retainer” is paid upfront by the client to start the search. Typically, half or 1/3rd of the fee. The rest is paid when the work is finished. That can be very similar to the fee structures for other professional service providers, like lawyers, accountants, and consultants.
      • With contingent search firms, the fee is paid only if the search firm finds someone. In other words, the fee is contingent upon the search resulting in a candidate.

      Now, if you compare that to any other professional service, you know any reputable firm won’t work for free until the work is done. Would you want your CPA firm or lawyer working on your behalf, hoping they get paid in the end? No, of course not because that brings up quality assurance concerns.

      Executive search firms are no different. Make sure you do your due diligence when selecting a search partner, verify whether they have expertise in your field and always check references. The executive search firm you choose is your company’s brand ambassador.

      Contingent vs Retained Executive Search Firm Fees

      List of Corporate Executive Titles

      The following list of executive titles covers some of the most common and roles that can comprise the C-suite in organizations across various industries. For each C-suite title, we have included the executive position abbreviation, as you would see it on executive org charts, along with a clear, concise explanation of the general purpose and responsibilities of that executive leader.

      • Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) – A top-tier executive who supervises the daily operations of a business and is ultimately responsible for its performance.
      • Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) – The senior manager responsible for the analysis of data within an organization.
      • Chief Brand Officer (CBO) – Officer responsible for a brand’s image, experience, and promise.
      • Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO) – Identifies new opportunities for the corporation and develops strategies to pursue those opportunities.
      • Chief Business Officer (CBO) – A position that allocates a company’s resources to meet strategic and financial goals.
      • Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) – Officer responsible for the commercial strategy and the development of an organization.
      • Chief Communications Officer (CCO) – The head of communications, public relations, and/or public affairs in an organization.
      • Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) – Person primarily responsible for overseeing and managing regulatory compliance issues within an organization.
      • Chief Creative Officer (CCO) – Officer who directs a company’s creative output, developing the artistic design strategy that defines the company’s brand.
      • Chief Content Officer (CCO) – Responsible for the digital media creation and multi-channel publication of the organization’s content (text, video, audio, animation, etc.).
      • Chief Customer Officer (CCO) – Responsible in customer-centric companies for the total relationship with an organization’s customers.
      • Chief Data Officer (CDO) – Responsible for enterprise-wide governance and utilization of information as an asset, via data processing, analysis, data mining, information trading and other means.
      • Chief Design Officer (CDO) – Typically responsible for overseeing all design and innovation aspects of a company’s products and services, including product design, graphic design, user experience design, industrial design, and package design.
      • Chief Digital Officer (CDO) – An individual who helps an organization drive growth by converting “analog” businesses to digital ones using the potential of modern online technologies and data (i.e., digital transformation ), and at times oversees operations in digital sectors like mobile applications, social media and related applications, virtual goods, as well as web-based information management and marketing.
      • Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) – An organization’s executive-level diversity and inclusion strategist.
      • Chief Events Officer (CVO) – The one responsible for aligning event strategies with business objectives.
      • Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – the most senior corporate, executive, or administrative officer in charge of managing an organization.
      • Chief Experience Officer (CXO) – Executive responsible for the overall experience of an organization’s products and services.
      • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – Primarily responsible for managing the company’s finances, including financial planning, management of financial risks, record-keeping, and financial reporting.
      • Chief Gaming Officer (CGO) – in charge of heading both the game development and the online/offline publishing functions of the company.
      • Chief Genealogical Officer (CGO)
      • Chief Growth Officer (CGO) – identifies areas where the company can grow, measured in revenue, or user/subscriber base or equivalent.
      • Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) – a corporate officer who oversees all aspects of human resource management and industrial relations policies, practices, and operations for an organization.
      • Chief Information Officer (CIO) – Alongside the CTO often the most senior executive in an enterprise who works with information technology and computer systems, in order to support enterprise goals. Generally they focus on the internal technology requirements, leaving strategy, product and customer-facing issues with the CTO.
      • Chief Information Officer (higher education) (CIO) – The senior executive who is responsible for information and communications technology in the university, college or other higher education institution.
      • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – The senior-level executive within an organization responsible for establishing and maintaining the enterprise vision, strategy, and program to ensure information assets and technologies are adequately protected.
      • Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) – A person in a company who is primarily responsible for managing the process of innovation and change management in an organization, as well as being in some cases the person who “originates new ideas but also recognizes innovative ideas generated by other people”.
      • Chief Investment Officer (CIO) – The one whose purpose is to understand, manage, and monitor their organization’s portfolio of assets, devise strategies for growth, act as the liaison with investors, and recognize and avoid serious risks, including those never before encountered.
      • Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) – Officer responsible for managing intellectual capital and the custodian of Knowledge Management practices in an organization.
      • Chief Learning Officer (CLO) – The person in charge of learning management, be it corporate or personal training.
      • Chief Legal Officer (CLO) – The officer in charge of all an organization’s legal affairs.
      • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – Corporate executive responsible for marketing activities in an organization.
      • Chief Media Officer (CMO) – The person in charge of media publications.
      • Chief Medical Officer (CMO) – The title used in many countries for the senior government official designated head of medical services, sometimes at the national level.
      • Chief Operating Officer (COO) – The COO is responsible for the daily operation of the company.
      • Chief People Officer (CPO) – Person in charge of every aspect of employee life cycle in an organization.
      • Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) – Officer responsible for managing risks related to information privacy laws and regulations.
      • Chief Process Officer (CPO) – An executive responsible for business process management at the highest level of an organization.
      • Chief Product Officer (CPO) – An executive responsible for various product-related activities in an organization.
      • Chief Reputation Officer (CRO) – The CRO is responsible for reputation, brand, and public relations/public affairs.
      • Chief Research Officer (CRO) – Officer responsible for the research that supports enterprise goals.
      • Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO) – senior officer of a company given broad powers to renegotiate all aspects of a company’s finances to deal with an impending bankruptcy or to restructure a company following a bankruptcy filing.
      • Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) – A corporate officer responsible for all revenue generation processes in an organization.
      • Chief Risk Officer (CRO) – The executive accountable for enabling the efficient and effective governance of significant risks, and related opportunities, to a business and its various segments. Risks are commonly categorized as strategic, reputational, operational, financial, or compliance-related.
      • Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) – A position at the head of scientific research operations at organizations or companies performing significant scientific research projects.
      • Chief Security Officer (CSO) – Senior executive accountable for the development and oversight of compliance, operational, strategic, financial and reputation security risk policies and programs intended for the mitigation and/or reduction of strategies relating to the protection of people, intellectual assets and tangible property.
      • Chief Services Officer (CSO) – Responsible for developing processes and tools, both internally and externally, for producing maximum value to all stakeholders with intelligent and efficient use of potentially fluctuating human resources.
      • Chief Solutions Officer (CSO) – Executive responsible for the identification, development and delivery of business solutions and services.
      • Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) – Executive responsible for developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining corporate strategic initiatives.
      • Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO) – involves the movement and storage of raw materials, of work–in–progress inventory, and of finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.
      • Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) – Corporate executive in charge of the corporation’s “environmental” programmes.
      • Chief Technological Product Designer (CTPO) – Used their design skills and technical knowledge to design new and improve existing products work and looks.
      • Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – CTOs will make decisions for the overarching technology infrastructure that closely align with the organization’s goals, and tend to be more focused on strategic and customer facing or product issues. While CIOs focus more on internal infrastructure of a company and work alongside the organization’s IT staff members to perform everyday operations.
      • Chief Technical Officer (CTO)
      • Chief Visibility Officer (CVO) – An individual appointed to oversee all aspects of performance across retail stores, corporations or organizations
      • Chief Visionary Officer (CVO) – Officer responsible of creating a forward vision for the company.
      • Chief Web Officer (CWO) – Person in charge of an organisation’s Internet presence, including all internet and intranet sites.

      Using top executive recruiters to source extraordinary talent for these roles can be more important than ever. That’s because the costs of failed executive searches are rising — and they can have longer-term impacts than most leaders realize.

      Cost of Failed Executive Recruitment Efforts

      Get in Touch.

      Fill out the email request form to learn more about our approach.

        [honeypot website]