Q4 2010 State of the Industry Report

Year of Resurgence for Executive Search Consulting

2010 Report Shows Senior Executive Recruiting at Third Highest Level Ever

The AESC’s 2010 Annual Report on the Retained Executive Search Industry shows senior executive recruiting at its third highest level ever due to a dramatic resurgence in demand following the precipitous decline of 2009.

From a downturn in 2009 of -32.5% the industry grew by an average of 28.5% in 2010, putting it at only 13% below the all time industry peak of 2008. Assuming strong growth during 2011, a year which has already started well for many search firms, it is not inconceivable that industry revenues may equal or exceed their peak this year.

Commenting on this improvement in the industry’s fortunes, Peter Felix, President of the AESC, stated: "A recovery of this magnitude is impressive given the extraordinary decline experienced by our profession in the aftermath of the October 2008 financial crisis. Nevertheless, it is not so surprising given the strong underlying forces that were driving the worldwide shortage of executive talent in 2008, and their immediate resumption as soon as some form of economic recovery became clear. Organizations around the world have been quick to realize that the shortage of talent is being exacerbated not only by the demographic shifts in the West and the demand from emerging markets, but by the nature of the tremendous tasks facing top management."

Felix continued: "Leadership today is at a premium since organizations cannot ignore the challenges of new competition, evolving technology, industry convergence and globalization. Finding and attracting the superior executive talent able to manage change of this magnitude is an investment process of the highest order and requires optimum professional help."

Other key features of the AESC’s 2010 report include:

  • Strong industrial sector hiring activity as BRIC countries and other emerging markets show unprecedented demand for high quality western manufactured products.
  • Continuing demand from the health care sector as many societies come to grips with the rising costs of providing care and the need for talented medical and management personnel increases.
  • Returning demand from the financial services sector as banks and other organizations refocus on revenue producing activities following the financial crisis.
  • A continued rise in executive hiring in the Asia/Pacific region, increasing 31% in 2010.
  • Annual growth in average revenue per consultant (+30%), the number of new searches started (+24%) and the average fee per search assignment (+2%), in line with increased net revenues.

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 1300 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.


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