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The 2009 global 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% in 2009 from their highest ever levels in 2008, the fourth quarter saw a 7.3% annual increase in searches started and a significant slowdown in revenue declines.
Global executive search industry revenues were estimated to reach $7.43 billion in 2009, against $11 billion in 2008. Despite the economic downturn significantly impacting the executive search 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.
In Q4 2009, Europe's market share of searches started was 35.7%. The number of searches was up by 12.1% in Q4 2009 compared to Q3 2009. On an annual basis, the number of searches was down by -9.3%.
In Q4 2009, 27% of all searches started in Europe happened in the UK, 14.5% in France, 14% in Germany and 44.5% in other European countries. The market share of searches started was up by 2% in the UK, up by 3.5% in France, unchanged in Germany and down by -5.5% in other European countries.
Peter Felix, President of the AESC, commented "the latest figures reveal new momentum as organisations 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."
Globally, 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% 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.