Q4 2009 State of the Industry Report

2009 Ends on Upward Trend for Senior Executive Recruitment

The Executive Search Industry Continues to Recover in Q4 2009 Following a Year in Decline

The 2009 executive search industry summary released today by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) indicates growing activity in senior management hiring during the fourth quarter of 2009. While overall industry revenues plummeted 32.5 per cent in 2009 from their highest ever levels in 2008, the fourth quarter saw a 7.3 per cent annual increase in searches started and a significant slow down in revenue declines.

Global executive search industry revenues were estimated to reach $7.43 bn in 2009, against $11 bn in 2008. Despite the economic downturn significantly impacting the senior recruitment industry, annual revenue comparisons showed 2009 as the sixth best on record; highlighting the strength of a consulting profession in critical demand and with unprecedented growth from 2004 to 2008.

Peter Felix, President of the AESC, commented, “The latest figures reveal new momentum as organizations become less reluctant to invest in upgraded or replacement senior management. We are gradually seeing increased search activity in many parts of the world, albeit exercised with more caution than with pre-recession hiring, and what appears to be a sustainable upward trend of demand. Certainly the final quarter of 2009 has proved to be a launch pad for greater optimism in 2010 and we are already seeing evidence of this in the first few months of the year”.

For the first time in 2009, the fourth quarter saw yearly increases in the levels of senior executive search activity in Asia/Pacific, Central/South America and Europe. North America was the only region not to experience an annual rise in search mandates but remained flat from quarter four 2008 to quarter four 2009.

Financial services was knocked from its dominant market share position by the industrial sector back in the first quarter of 2008. Since then, the industrial sector has continued to hold the leading market share with 25 per cent of worldwide executive searches. However, the financial, consumer and technology sectors all saw the greatest annual rise in executive searches in quarter four 2009, indicating renewed activity across these industries.

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 industry. Data for the report is collected from a consistent sample of AESC mem­ber search firms representing the activity of over 1500 executive search consultants in 46 countries worldwide. Data does not account for annual inflation. 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.


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