2013 AESC Outlook Report

2013 Executive Search Outlook Becoming Brighter in the Americas and Asia Pacific Although Europe Still Moribund

Executive search consultants in the Americas and Asia Pacific hold a neutral to positive outlook for the year ahead, while those based in EMEA are less optimistic.

The 2013 Executive Search Industry Global Outlook Report just released by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) shows that half of global executive search consultants hold a neutral outlook for the executive search busi­ness in 2013 - an ongoing trend since the end of 2011. The remaining 29% of search consultants feel optimistic, sharing a positive outlook, while the minority (22%), harbor a negative view for 2013. The regional breakdown of the findings highlight an alternative picture for EMEA, which includes a greater number of consultants (31%) holding a negative outlook for 2013 and only 17% feeling positive about the industry in 2013. Comparatively, consultants based in the Americas and in Asia Pacific expect a stronger search industry in 2013, with a 38% positive outlook in the Americas and a 32% positive outlook in Asia Pacific.

AESC President, Peter Felix, commented: “Our 2013 outlook report is understandably reflective of the general economic and political conditions prevailing in different parts of the globe.  In the United States, the largest market for executive search in the world, in spite of the political uncertainty of the past few months there is no doubt that the economy is on the mend and that organizations are again recognizing the crucial need of finding top talent in a market where there is still a talent shortage. There are indications that markets such as India and China will be recovering during 2013, although the picture throughout the emerging markets is not consistent. Brazil, for example, continues to indicate sluggish growth. Europe offers the most cause for concern with the previously strong German market slowing down and the Latin countries - France, Italy and Spain - continuing to suffer from the Euro zone crisis and the pessimism which it has generated. The UK, the second largest market for executive search worldwide, continues to hold its own but there are few indications of optimism or growth. All in all, the 2013 outlook for the worldwide executive search profession is very mixed. However, with overall revenues continuing at levels not far from their peak in 2008, the industry has reason to be optimistic for the longer term moving into 2014 and beyond.”

The senior executive talent shortage continues, predicted by search firms to be the most visible this year in China, Brazil and Africa. Respondents voted that the best and brightest talent is most needed within the Engineering, General Management and Board of Director functions in 2013. The Energy/Natural Resources sector is expected to see the most growth in the year ahead, followed by Healthcare/Life Sciences. Half of executive search firms polled plan to hire more consultants this year, and around 30% plan to hire more research staff.

Peter Felix added: “Ironically, in spite of some feelings of pessimism for the global search industry as a whole, many executive search firms present a much more positive outlook for their own search practices during 2013, planning to recruit additional consultants and researchers in order to satisfactorily service those sectors where demand continues to be robust. Despite a lackluster outlook for the global industry, individual search practices can remain strong as firms tap into new market opportunities, replacing once-vigorous sectors such as financial services that have been badly hit in recent years.”

Read the full report.


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