Board Structure – Flash Survey May 2021

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At a recent CEO Forum with our Clients, we talked about building a Board which triggered a lively discussion on how a Board can give value to a business, its ideal structure and the values a CEO can and should expect from it.

Digging further into the topic, we surveyed 30 Funds to get an insight into their views on the ideal Board Structure of a scaleup.

Here are some early headlines from the results – the detailed findings will be shared at our webinar ‘A Board – Who Needs One Anyway?’

Early Headlines

1. Size/Composition of Board

The typical size is 5-6 Board Members, split 50/50 between Executive and NEDs. Always required are the CEO, CFO, Chairman and the Investment Director, sometimes also the CRO, COO or an Independent NED.

2. Priorities

Highest priority is split 50/50 between Current Trading Performance and Longer-Term Strategy. Next down is Governance, then HR/Management issues, and occasionally M&A or Funding.

‘What you put in front of Boards they will debate, keeping it strategic and focused on great advice important.’

3. Chairman Attributes

– Capability to be a mentor/coach – top requirement (no. 1 or 2)
– Previous Experience as Chairman and/or Founder/Entrepreneur was most frequently referenced (although by no means universal)
– Industry Knowledge is not essential for most Funds
– Other Needs: Only 2 Funds explicitly stated:

‘Successful scaling of SME to larger exit.’ or similar
‘Previous CEO experience. PE/VC backed experience’ mentioned a couple of times

4. Satisfaction Levels

100% say they are satisfied with the Chairman, although not unreservedly so:

‘I am satisfied with most, but not all. Where I am not satisfied it is because the Chairman is adopting the style of a listed company chairman, small companies need a more proactive chair.’

‘I sit on x boards and some chairs are much better than others. The best ones will ensure meetings move along whilst bringing people in and keeping a positive feeling to the board.’


1. No surprises re composition of board nor priorities being split equally between short and long term

2. Soft skills of coaching/Mentoring apparently more sought after than previous experience of Chairman or Founder or CEO

3. Weird that track record of scaling up not highlighted more

4. Apparent 100% satisfaction with performance of the Chairman, undermined by the quotes.

5. One or two Funds are not aligned with the majority opinion of their peers. For instance, not prioritising current performance at all, but more strategy and/or future funding (maybe because it invests in earlier stage businesses).

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