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Record-breaking year for executive search and leadership consulting profession

Annual revenue growth from 2013 to 2014 was supported by a 2.5% rise in the volume of new executive searches started in 2014 over the previous year as well as an increase in the value of individual search assignments, rising 2.9% in 2014 over 2013. Similarly, the average revenue per consultant increased by 11% during 2014.

AESC President and CEO, Karen Greenbaum, commented: “Businesses understand that their most important asset is their people. Top talent creates the link between strategy and execution. This research shows that businesses also value executive search and leadership consultants as trusted advisors for their talent needs. The AESC represents the gold standard for our profession and it is clear that the integrity and knowledge of our members is appreciated by their clients.”

AESC Global Chair, Jason Johnson, commented, “I am delighted to see the global executive search and leadership consulting industry experiencing such a strong growth phase and posting the largest ever worldwide revenue of $11.7 billion. The industry is in good health with both a rise in the volume of searches and a rise in the average fee per search. Importantly, while we continue to see growth in the North American market, we are seeing increasing use of executive search and leadership consulting firms in other markets – particularly many of the emerging markets – as the governance environment within those markets evolves. I am optimistic about the future of the profession and looking forward to an even better year in 2015.”

Krista Walochik, president of Talengo and chair of the AESC Council of Europe, Israel & Africa, said, “As Europe pulls out of recession, strategic issues for business leaders facing growth include managing organizational risk through leadership succession planning, creating management bench strength, and proactively acquiring scarce skill sets (e.g. Digital experts) to stay ahead of the curve.”

Walcochik went on to say, “Concurrently, Diversity on management and supervisory boards is now a key priority in Europe, not only due to increasing regulatory pressure, but also to the ever increasing flow of cross-border investments, the globalization of markets, and the war for talent in an ageing market. The advisory services provided by our AESC member firms are increasingly in demand to provide sustainable solutions to these challenges across the region.”

Thomas T. Daniels, senior director & partner of Spencer Stuart and AESC vice-chair and chair of the AESC Council of the Americas, commented, “It is encouraging to see the strong performance of the profession worldwide. The growth of the industry to record levels reflects the importance that the best organizations in the world are partnering with executive search firms, which bring fresh perspectives and insights about talent, succession planning, executive assessment and leadership advisory services.”

North America remained the largest market for executive search and leadership consulting in 2014 with a 43% share, followed by EMEA at 33.4%. Asia Pacific followed in 2014 regional market share with 17.3% and then Latin America at 6.3%.

Of the major industries surveyed in the AESC’s 2014 annual report, Industrial continued to hold the largest share of worldwide senior executive search and leadership consulting activity with 25.3% of the 2014 market, followed by financial services with 20.5% of new searches started, and then consumer products (17.9%), technology (15.3%), and life sciences/healthcare (13.2%).


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