AESC Members Executive Search Consultants Are Optimistic

While the AESC State of the Profession data provides a useful outline of where executive search and leadership consulting is today, we also wanted to paint a picture of the future of the profession. Our survey was completed by 199 AESC members, including 56 firm leaders. In this section, we gauge our members’ levels of optimism for both the profession and the economy, plus we explore growth opportunities for executive search and leadership consulting.

2015 represented the fourth consecutive year for global estimated revenue growth for the profession, so it is encouraging to see that 83% of AESC members who responded feel optimistic or neutral about the executive search and leadership consulting profession during 2016 (Chart 2.1). There are two probable reasons for why the majority of our members feel this way. First, we know from the estimated revenue figures mentioned above that the executive search and leadership consulting business continues to perform well. The clients we surveyed for this report clearly identified that executive search is the favored form of talent acquisition for top executives, including searches above $200k USD, board level searches, confidential searches, and searches for hard-to-fill positions. The clients we surveyed also demonstrated demand for executive search firms to provide leadership consulting services today and in the future.


The top leadership services that clients are interested in using an executive search firm for today include:

  • Internal talent assessment
  • Succession planning
  • Interim management
  • Leadership effectiveness
  • Compensation strategies

The top leadership services that clients hope to use executive search firms for in the future are:

  • Succession planning
  • Internal talent assessment
  • Executive coaching
  • Interim management
  • Leadership effectiveness

Our members’ outlook for both the global and their national economies is less optimistic, with one third (31% and 32% respectively) expressing concern (Chart 2.1).  Our members’ greater concern for the national and global economy is understandable. There are several markets around the world that are experiencing significant economic volatility, most notably Latin America, where our members’ optimism for their national economies was 13%.

When breaking this down by region (Chart 2.2), the European countries were most optimistic about their national economies, with 40% of respondents feeling more optimistic. This was buoyed by above-average figures in the United Kingdom (38%), Continental Europe (54%) and Central & Eastern Europe (83%). The Asia Pacific region’s average level of national optimism was 32%, which was helped by positive outlooks in India (80%) and South East Asia (50%). The Americas region had the lowest level of optimism, with only 27%. Here we saw the impact of Latin America’s economic struggles on the levels of country optimism (13%), while North America (33%) was broadly in line with the overall average.


Read the full article on Executive Talent 2020, a special edition of AESC's quarterly e-magazine.

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