Topgrading Improves Culture and Prevents Company Closure

The Company

E*TRADE is a leading online financial services firm that specializes in a first-class experience for the digitally inclined investor and trader, backed by personal professional guidance. The Company also has a high-tech custody platform for advisors and the industry’s #1-rated stock plan administration platform.

The Challenge

“E*TRADE was struggling – it needed a turnaround. It was an existential crisis. Without Topgrading, E*TRADE would have gone under. Topgrading helped us survive and flourish.”

– Paul Idzik, CEO

When Paul Idzik became CEO of E*TRADE in 2013, toxic investments in the mortgage business dating back to the 2008 financial crisis were dragging the company down. The number of A Players in the top two levels of the company were estimated to be 25%. A couple of key mis-hires could have caused the company’s demise.

No. of Employees: 4,000
Industry: Financial Services


  • Improvement from 25% to 75% A Players in upper management
  • A Players improve company culture and attract more A Players
  • Improvement from 10-year performance of -20% to 3-year performance of +150%
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“With Topgrading you can look forward to a much more positive, exciting organization culture with almost all A Players.”

– Paul Idzik, CEO

The Solutions

Idzik immediately rolled out the full Topgrading methodology, including using Topgrading Professionals to assist in Topgrading Interviews. Using this method, 6 out of 7 of the top team were replaced, 100% with A Players.

A Topgrading Professional conducted multiple 2-day Topgrading Workshops for managers across the company’s key locations. For a short time following these workshops, the Professional also served as a Tandem interview partner to continue coaching hiring managers.

The Results

E*TRADE’s upper management ranks improved from 25% to 75% A Players. Since Idzik became CEO, the company improved from a 10-year performance of -20% to a 3-year performance of +150%.

The organization culture improved dramatically. A Players set higher goals and worked collaboratively. The rigor of the Topgrading method sent a message to the financial world that E*TRADE was serious about talent, which made recruiting more A Players even easier.

Advice from a Topgrader

“Don’t just fight fires replacing a couple of people. Make achieving 90% A Players a never-ending quest, to be discussed and reinforced daily. Don’t settle for a B Player replacement for a C.”

- Paul Idzik, CEO

Talk to an advisor to see how Topgrading can help your organization achieve similar results.


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