CWS 3.0: March 12, 2014


Executive Search: Spend Rises Despite Dwindling Search Numbers

The executive search and leadership consulting industry achieved worldwide revenue of $10.57 billion in 2013, according to the State of the Executive Search Industry Report 2013 from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

The annual revenue increase comes despite an 8.5 percent drop in the number of new searches started in 2013, compared with 2012. Revenue strength is instead attributed by the AESC to continued growth in the value of individual assignments, up by 6.1 percent annually. On an annual basis, the average revenue per search consultant rose in 2013 by 3 percent.  

On a regional level, North America remained the largest market for executive search in 2013, holding a 44.8 percent share of global search activity, followed by EMEA, which accounted for 31.5 percent of retained executive searches in 2013. This was followed by Asia Pacific, with a 17 percent market share; Central/South America accounted for 6.7 percent of the market.

On an annual basis, the number of executive searches fell across every region: in Central/South America (down 15.5 percent), North America (down 9.2 percent), EMEA (down 8.5 percent), and Asia Pacific (down 3.5 percent).

Peter Felix, AESC president, commented: “2013 has confirmed a trend that we have seen growing for the past several years, which is that client organizations are turning to our member firms for top-level leadership assignments but less for the volume appointments of the past. Encouragingly this has not affected fee revenue which is now again very close to the all-time high of 2008. With the rebound of major economies for executive search; such as the USA and United Kingdom, the outlook for our profession during the next few years seems very positive”

In the AESC Global Executive Outlook Report for 2014, released earlier this year, in collaboration with career management service BlueSteps, 51 percent of senior executives worldwide hold a positive outlook for the global executive job market for 2014. This marks an increase of 15 percent compared with the survey conducted last year.  

Many of the executives included in the survey consider themselves more mobile than last year, with 74 percent willing to make a career move in 2014, compared with 2013. A significant proportion (87 percent) of executives plan to look for a new role this year. 


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