Q1 2008 State of the Industry Report


Financial services searches decline 7.2% year-on-year in Q1 2008, yet overall executive search continues to rise

The worldwide retained executive search industry remained strong in the first quarter of 2008, continuing to resist financial market turbulence, according to the Association of Executive Search Consultants' (AESC) quarterly State of the Industry Report. The findings indicate that changing demographics, activity in emerging markets, and globalization are sustaining high corporate demand for senior executive talent.

The AESC report revealed that the number of executive searches started worldwide in quarter 1 2008 increased 9 percent quarterly, and 1.4 percent yearly. The number of executive searches started in the financial services sector decreased 7.2 percent year-on-year and remained flat quarter-on-quarter. The technology sector also witnessed an annual fall in searches, down 5.1 percent from quarter 1 2007. The industrial sector experienced the most significant year-on-year rise in searches, increasing 10.1 percent from quarter 1 2007.

The largest industry market share, usually held by financial services, was dominated by the Industrial sector with a 24 percent share for quarter 1 2008. The financial services sector dropped to second place with a 22 percent market share. The remaining industry shares were consistent with previous quarterly results: Consumer Products (18%), Technology (15%), Life Sciences/Healthcare (11.5%), Non-Profit (6%), and Professional Services (3%).

AESC President, Peter Felix, remarked, "Companies continue to experience a war for talent as a turbulent economy makes senior leadership an even greater success factor. Though we have inevitably seen a decline in financial services searches the reduction is not across the board. Thus, while there have been very few searches in investment banking, capital markets and real estate there is still a need for executives in private banking, asset management, private equity and insurance."

On a regional level, North America experienced a 3.2 percent annual decrease in searches with all remaining regions seeing a yearly rise, the greatest being Asia/Pacific (+8.5%), followed by Central/South America (+6.3%), and Europe (+3.4%). European searches rose 3.4 percent year-on-year in quarter 1 2008 and 11.3 percent quarter-on-quarter.

In quarter 1 2008 North America accounted for 41.1 percent of executive searches started globally, followed by Europe (36%), Asia/Pacific (15.8%), and Central/South America (7.1%). The yearly change saw North America's market share decrease by 2 percent from quarter 1 2007 to quarter 1 2008.

Despite the decline in the number of financial services searches, industry-wide net revenues were up 13.2 percent year-on-year in quarter 1 2008. Also witnessing a yearly increase in quarter 1 2008 were the average revenue per executive search consultant (+5.5%) and the average fee per assignment (+15.5%).

The data was collected from a sample of AESC member search firms representing the activity of over 1,500 executive search consultants in 46 countries worldwide. AESC access to job search data positions this Report as a leading indicator of the future worldwide job market and a barometer of hiring trends in key market sectors.

Read the full report.


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