Data collected by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) indicate a small increase in new executive searches for the first quarter of 2012 but reveal an overall downward trend in revenue both from Q4 2011 to Q1 2012 and over the year (down 6.3 percent and 7 percent, respectively). Most major industry groups reported drops in demand with only the technology and consumer industries showing signs of growth.
Peter Felix, President of AESC stated, “The first quarter results for our industry are disappointing but were presaged by our outlook survey conducted just before the start of the New Year. Many search consultants have felt continuing uncertainty in demand from their clients as economic turbulence persists in various parts of the world. Certain sectors such as financial have suffered considerably given that the outlook for banks and financial institutions still remains so unclear.”
Regardless, most regions saw a rise in search activity between Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 including a 3 percent rise in North America.
Felix continued, “Quarterly statistics are only one indicator of a trend but there is no doubt that confidence in the executive search market has declined since the end of last year and is unlikely to fully recover until we see clients regain their confidence about the future and again start searching for that rare commodity: executive talent. I am confident that when the worldwide economy begins to grow again and the talent shortage begins to ‘bite’, that we shall see a significantly heightened demand for retained executive search services.”