Q2 2012 State of the Industry Report

Global Executive Search Begins to See Improvement

Latest AESC figures show an end to the decline of the past three quarters

Second quarter industry trend statistics just released by the global Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) revealed that while executive search experienced a year-on-year fall in revenues of -6.1 percent from Q2 2011 to Q2 2012, the quarter-on-quarter data highlighted an upward trend (+8.6%) for the first time since June last year. Given that the second quarter of 2011 represented the highest revenue point for the search industry since 2008, in itself the all-time high for search revenues, then the yearly revenue decline from June 2011 is small by comparison.

AESC President, Peter Felix, commented: “Although at first sight a year-on-year decline in revenues is negative nevertheless the fact that quarter-on-quarter revenues have begun to rise again, even though modestly, is encouraging for the industry as a whole given the enormous uncertainty which continues to exist in the world economy”.

Despite the rise in quarterly revenues, the number of new searches started in the second quarter of this year remained flat from the first quarter of 2012 – indicating a higher level of assignment value being handled by executive search firms.

The report also highlighted a redistribution of revenues by industry and by region, with technology gaining market share and a rise in search activity quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year. Financial services also showed a quarterly rise in search activity (+11.6%), but declined from 12 months ago (-19.3%). Other industries surveyed experienced quarterly and yearly falls in search activity: industrial, consumer, and life sciences/healthcare.

North America continued to pull ahead with a quarterly increase in market share and in overall search activity (+4.2%), while EMEA still showed signs of recession. Asia Pacific experienced a slow down in search activity with quarterly (-11.6%) and yearly (-23.5%) declines. Central/South America rose slightly on the quarter (+1.6%) but declined on the year (-15.5%).

Felix added: “The main stories behind our second quarter statistics are the resurgence of the American economy, the slow-down in the emerging markets, and the re-emergence of the technology and financial services sectors as engines of growth. We are encouraged by the fact that demand for senior executive talent still remains strong despite the unprecedented turbulence and swings in confidence in many countries”.

The AESC State of the Executive Search Industry Report is quarterly research carried out by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) since 2004 on trends in the global retained executive search and leadership consulting industry. Data for the report is collected from a consistent sample of AESC member search firms representing the activity of 1,430 executive search consultants in 46 countries worldwide. AESC access to retained executive search data positions this report as a leading indicator of the future worldwide management employment market and a barometer of hiring trends for top-level and seldom advertised positions in key market sectors.

Read the full report.


Thought leadership category