Acuity Global Development - 4 - Talent Management

Talent Management

Talent Identification, Development & Progression

Client: Global Finance


The Company’s role is to provide financial advice and to audit the accounts of clients globally, across 21 countries.  The strategy to drive lasting improvement in their client’s services for the benefit of their stakeholders is supported by the aim to provide consistent service and expert insight to drive change in services that deliver greater impact. Increasing influence by developing and applying knowledge more effectively is a priority, so that clients take action on the issues raised by auditors. This major shift in expectations requires significant development at the top of the organization and where necessary a greater degree of movement in and out of senior posts to pave the way for new behaviors and a more consultative approach within the leadership population.


An existing Talent Management Strategy aimed at developing and promoting its most able staff has been in place for many years, providing a ‘Future Leaders’ development program for qualified accountants (Audit Principals) and equivalent grades. The Company decided to launch a development program for Senior Audit Managers, in both its Financial Audit and Value For Money specialisms, who have the potential to progress to Director and beyond.

In 2011, AGD was asked to partner with the Company’s Talent and Leadership Development team to design and deliver a comprehensive assessment and development program to identify, select and develop staff within the company with the greatest potential to be promoted to Director within two years.

The program aims to:

  • Identify a high quality pool of candidates for promotion to Director Level.
  • Capture significantly better data on the skills and competencies of Senior Audit Managers who demonstrate the highest potential for progression to Director.
  • Focus development of high potential Senior Audit Managers to equip them to meet the changing requirements of the Director role in light of the new strategy.
  • Present clearer messages to Senior Audit Managers, particularly those who are unlikely to progress further, helping to increase turnover at the Audit Manager level and “refresh” the succession pool.
  • Enhance succession arrangements, with a clearer picture of mission critical roles within the Company and the skills, knowledge and experience required from those filling them.


  • To ensure that applications were received from across the entire eligible population, AGD developed an application process giving all potential candidates the chance to showcase their abilities.  This process included the use of a bespoke emotional intelligence 360 degree feedback questionnaire, a written exercise and submission of a CV/Resume.
  • Shortlisted applicants were assessed further through the use of an interview-based 360 degree feedback process and a comprehensive assessment centre.  All candidates completed a battery of psychometrics, a group activity, which was filmed, a presentation and observed small group interactions.  Each activity was designed to assess different capabilities and to determine future potential in Director Roles.  Each candidate was interviewed by senior leaders within the organization and had a 3 hour feedback, coaching and interview with an occupational psychologist.
  • Candidates were ranked according to their performance and those that were identified as having the most potential and greatest readiness for promotion were accepted onto the Direct Development Program.
  • The development program is designed to meet both individual and collective needs.  Each candidate identified as a result of the assessments specific areas of strength and development.  Those areas that were common amongst the group are supported by master classes.  Individual development is supported through coaching and ongoing improved performance is accomplished through a combination of action learning sets and on-the-job experience.
  • When Director Posts become available, candidates on the program are reviewed to determine their suitability for promotion into that post.  Participants remain on the program even when promoted to ensure ongoing development and improved performance.


  • Of the 18 candidates, 9 have been promoted to Director in the 2 years since the start of the contract.
  • All participants are very focused on the skills and behaviors necessary to change the culture and meet the expectations of those in the company and their clients.
  • Existing Directors are aware of the shift in expectations and there is now greater appetite for development and change within that population.
  • Unsuccessful Senior Audit Managers are seeking additional development support in the form of coaching from ASK to help meet the gaps in their capability to give them a clear advantage of being successful in the following selection and development process.
  • Feedback from the Leadership Team is very positive focussing on the impact of the programme on the company, but also enhancing its reputation with its client portfolio.
  • AGD have subsequently been selected to design and run the ‘Future Leaders’ programme for the next tier/ generation of managers within the Audit Principal grades.