Born in the USA: The Home of Advisory Boards and Innovation in the Sector

Thought Leadership Articles

Published 05 September 2023

Louise Broekman

The advisory board sector has experienced significant growth globally, with America leading the march. According to the 2023 State of the Market Report, 54% of the global advisory board sector is based in the United States, while Canada accounts for 5%. This statistic highlights the region’s substantial impact and potential for further growth.

The usage of advisory boards continues to surge, providing business leaders with critical thinking support to navigate growth cycles and facilitate sound decision-making.

The rise of compliance and stakeholder expectations has created a new agenda for governance, driving the need for agile and best-practice advisory support. This shift in mindset has broadened the tide of influence, making advisory boards an essential aspect of organisational strategy.


Advisory Boards in Practice

The American market demonstrates the versatility and growth potential of advisory boards. The Advisory Board Centre has been engaged in conversations, interviews, activations and consultations with organisations and advisory board professionals across the region, and it is increasingly evident that advisory boards are not only prevalent but also evolving to meet the unique needs of various organisations.

The region showcases the greatest utilisation and variability in how advisory boards are being used across sectors, including business, corporate, and project-specific boards.



Advisory Boards for the Business Sector

In the business sector, advisory boards are crucial in supporting innovative entrepreneurs, technology-driven enterprises, and scaling mid-market seasoned entrepreneurial businesses. These boards provide valuable guidance, leveraging the expertise and networks of experienced professionals to navigate industry-specific challenges and drive sustainable growth.

The State of the Market Report reveals that startups and scale-ups traditionally use informal advisors and mentors. However, this is changing rapidly with on-demand advisory board structures and accelerator programs implementing quality advisory structures.

Overall, 29% of advisory boards in the business sector are in emerging businesses. Flexibility in structures is important for this segment of the market as it is volatile, and their needs change rapidly. This is particularly important in the North American market where advisory boards are closely aligned with investment activity. The mid-market has a strong history of peer advisory board structures. The natural maturity of these advisory relationships is formalised advisory boards for individual businesses. So, this is a market to watch, in particular where 35% of the demand for advisory boards in this segment is professional services and technology businesses.

Watch: Tales from the Frontline in the US Market: Udo Doring and Mike Richardson

For more best practices and the American and Canadian markets videos scroll to the bottom of the page.

Corporatised Advisory Board

Corporatised advisory boards have gained prominence in America and Canada, enabling multinational organisations to tap into external expertise and perspectives. These boards are strategically structured to align with corporate governance systems, focusing on long-term strategic planning, risk management, and ensuring compliance with international regulations.

The Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Adobe, and SalesForce are just a few high-profile examples of firms adopting a Corporatised Advisory Board model.

Advisory Board Centre research shows that Corporatised Advisory Boards in North America will continue to grow as a “bone-fide business practice driven by ethical and independent input”.  At a time when there is increased global scrutiny of governance boards and increased director workload, advisory boards can help safeguard corporate executive teams, support better decision making and preserve business integrity.


Project Advisory Board

53% of newly created advisory boards are project-specific advisory boards because they have emerged as a practical solution to address complex initiatives and ensure successful project outcomes.

In complex market conditions, project advisory boards excel. They bridge the gaps in internal expertise, evaluate risks, foster innovation, and validate the next course of action. The opportunity to gather independent thinkers around a table for dynamic discussions and debates provides a flexible avenue to tap into external support, enriched with diverse skills and up-to-date knowledge.


53% of newly created advisory boards are project-specific advisory boards because they have emerged as a practical solution to address complex initiatives and ensure successful project outcomes.


Advisory Boards On The Move In North America

The success of advisory boards relies heavily on the expertise and dedication of professionals who serve as board members and chairs, which is why, in North America, there is a growing recognition of the importance of Certified ChairsTM, who implement best practices in their advisory board engagements.

These professionals bring a wealth of experience and industry-specific insights, supporting organisational leaders in achieving their strategic objectives.

As the advisory board sector matures, the adaptation of best practices and ethics frameworks becomes crucial.


The Power of Independence and Collaborative Thinking

A notable trend in the advisory board sector is recognising the value of independence. Collaborative thinking without a secondary agenda has proven to be a powerful tool in driving effective decision-making and fostering innovation.

The region’s diverse community of advisory board professionals reflects a collective response to positively impact the future. By sharing knowledge, networks, and perspectives, these leaders strive to maximise the power of collective intelligence.

As the market continues to embrace advisory boards as a vital component of organisational strategy, it is clear that their value extends beyond specific industries or sectors.

The increasing adoption and utilisation of advisory boards signify a shift in how leaders approach decision-making and seek guidance.

Advisory boards are no longer a question of whether they add value but rather how organisations can best implement and facilitate them to leverage their full potential.

In this new era of engagement, where uncertainty and complexity abound, advisory boards have become everybody’s business.




To learn more about best practices and the American and Canadian markets, check out these videos.

Advisory Boards in the US Market: Jan Easton and Renee Lahti:

Interviews of Advisory Board Professionals: Tom Adams Interviews


Examples of Advisory Boards Globally:

Advisory Boards in Action


Market Profiles

United States of America



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