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Why Smaller Could Be Better – Boutique Executive Search Firms

Why Smaller Could Be Better – Boutique Executive Search Firms

By Retained | June 28, 2024

When you’re searching for your next exceptional leader to take you into the future of your business, the allure of partnering with a big-name search firm is tempting. Sure, their scale and content output are impressive, but is bigger always better? Small boutique executive search firms like Retained offer distinct advantages that could give you an edge in recruitment. Deciding the type of search firm you will use for an executive search is a big decision, but a small boutique executive search firm could be the best fit. We’ll explore how small boutique executive search firms can provide the edge.

Leadership Expertise

One of the biggest benefits of working with a smaller firm is that you’ll work alongside proven leaders with years of experience who have been in your shoes and know your needs. At Retained, our leaders will be involved in every step of the process, from the first call until a candidate’s placement. This ensures you get the attention and the level of expertise you deserve.

A Relationship-first Approach

When you partner with a boutique search firm, you can forge a close relationship with leadership who come alongside you to execute the search. During the process, you have greater access to leadership, benefit from their strong networks, and, as a result, are better positioned for success.

When you partner with Retained, for instance, we become an extension of your organization, guaranteeing the highest level of discretion and confidentiality. The relationship goes beyond the now; we work to ensure our clients are positioned for future success, and we maintain relationships beyond the initial search to support our clients and their continuous growth.

Going Beyond Qualifications  

Large search firms may utilize standardized processes to assess your needs and the qualifications you desire in your candidate. However, small boutique firms can go much deeper, working alongside you to understand the leadership landscape within your organization and your culture on a profoundly personal level. A Better understanding of these areas will result in the perfect fit to enhance your team and help you reach your objectives better. Knowing the client’s culture intimately also enables a more seamless transition for the leader. Our experts can coach the candidates throughout the process, preparing them to enter the role with confidence.


When needing a search, tailoring your choice of a partner can make a world of difference. For instance, hiring a small boutique search firm specializing in the technology sector can offer you a boost if you are seeking a  Chief Information Officer or a Chief Technology Officer. Firms that specialize in a specific industry know it inside and out, and their networks often enable them to pull together a diverse pool of candidates.

At Retained, we source senior technology executives, C-suite, nonprofit, and fractional/interim executives. By specializing in these types of searches, we can put forth the optimal pool of candidates that best fit your needs. Tino Mantella, President & Managing Partner at Retained, led the largest tech trade association in North America for over a decade. His tenure not only enabled him to connect directly with hundreds of tech leaders, but he also developed an intimate knowledge of the requirements to be the best in various tech roles.


Boutique search firms can innovate quickly without going through a maze of bureaucracy to secure approvals. While large firms have many resources, they are not as agile or flexible due to their size. Boutique firms combine innovative search strategies with robust tools and technology to ensure a successful search. A smaller firm can improve and optimize more quickly. Despite fewer resources, a more limited number of searches allows for a greater focus and allocation of resources to your account, proving to be more effective.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

When choosing a trusted partner to find your next leader, bigger isn’t always better. While there may be some advantages to a large firm, small boutique search firms like Retained are positioned to give you a unique edge in talent acquisition. Their tailored and personalized approach, deep industry knowledge, and leadership expertise can be the difference maker in finding the perfect fit the first time. This is why you can trust boutique firms like Retained to get the job done right.