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World – Executive search industry revenues up, but volume down

06 March 2014

Industry trend data from the executive search and leadership consulting sector, released today by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), revealed an +8.5% rise in global revenues over 2012, placing estimated 2013 industry revenues at USD 10.57 billion worldwide.

The 2013 annual revenue increase comes despite an -8.5% drop in the number of new searches started in 2013, compared with 2012. Revenue strength is instead attributable to continued growth in the value of individual assignments, up +6.1% annually in 2013, highlighting demand at the top-end of the executive search and leadership consulting profession.

Peter Felix, AESC President, commented: “2013 has confirmed a trend that we have seen growing for the past several years, which is that client organisations 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.”

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

Of the major industries surveyed in the AESC’s 2013 annual report, Industrial held the largest share of worldwide senior executive search activity with 25.8% of the market in 2013, followed by a resurgent Financial Services sector with 19.1% of new searches started, and then Consumer Products (18.3%), Technology (15.4%), and Life Sciences/Healthcare (13.6%).

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