Q4 2012 State of the Industry Report

Executive Search Challenged but Focused at the Top

2012 Report shows a decline in executive searches across major regions and industries, yet growth at the very high-end of search and leadership consulting.

2012 Year-end executive search industry trend data, just released by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), revealed a 6.4 per cent annual decline in worldwide retained executive search industry revenues - putting estimated 2012 revenues for the executive search and leadership consulting profession at $9.74 billion.

Despite the number of new executive search mandates falling 7.1 per cent in 2012 from 2011, continued growth was recorded in the level of fees for assignments (up 1.7 per cent annually in 2012), indicating continued demand for the high-end of search and leadership consulting.

AESC President, Peter Felix, commented: “Among what are generally disappointing results there are nevertheless some bright spots for our profession. Thus global revenues in 2012 were still not very far short (-11.5%) of the all-time high in 2008, despite the volatility in the world economy and the very difficult trading environments in the depressed countries of Europe and the decelerating ‘emerging’ economies of Asia/Pacific. Certain sectors such as Industrial, Technology, Life Sciences and Energy have continued to be robust despite small percentage reductions in the number of search assignments; the level of executive search assignments appears to be moving further up-market, a factor confirmed by client organizations as they increasingly look to retained executive search firms for the more challenging, most senior and confidential assignments”.

North America – accounting for 45.1 per cent of the global executive search market share in 2012 - experienced the least annual decline in the number of new searches started in 2012 over 2011 (down 1.1 per cent) and displayed upward year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter search activity in the fourth quarter of 2012. The EMEA region fell 11.6 per cent annually in 2012, just behind Asia Pacific (-12.1%), and followed by Central/South America (-7.3%).

Felix continued: “Given the disturbing variability of the world economy it is no surprise that client organizations are still treading carefully when awarding top level executive search assignments. However, the underlying trends are still strong, especially in North America, and the executive search profession can look to better times ahead”.

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