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Have the big headhunters over-extended themselves again?

How long before the likes of Korn/Ferry International and Heidrick & Struggles start cutting staff? Both firms slashed headcount drastically in 2002 and 2003, but have resisted reductions so far this time around. Rumour has it that some consultants are starting to feel a bit twitchy.

Heidrick looks like a particular candidate for trimming in its financial services arm.

Its third-quarter results were favourable and Heidrick has reduced fixed costs by lowering the proportion of compensation devoted to salaries (in favour of performance related bonuses). However, it has invested heavily in financial services over the past year, acquiring US hedge fund recruiter Schwab Enterprise in April, 75 Search Partners in August, and various former employees of the Whitney Group and Akamai in Asia Pac (allegedly for big guarantees).

Korn/Ferry has also bulked up, adding two new consultants from the Whitney Group in October to cover capital markets and asset management.

In September, Reuters predicted meltdown for the big US headhunting groups.

Along with the financial services sector, the share prices of both Heidrick and Korn/Ferry have plummeted since their highs of 2007, with Heidrick down to $19.29 from a peak of $51.71 in August 2007 and Korn/Ferry off its peak of $26.03 in June 2007, to $13.11.

Comments (9)

Comments
  1. It’s not just the ‘big headhunters’ Sarah. Any recruitment firm whether it be a Large Contingency firm, Big Global Search firm or the smaller boutiques are going to be looking at costs very carefully (just like our clients). I’m sure any consultant who recruits in financial services is feeling ‘twitchy’. The simple fact is if you’re not at the very least covering the cost of your seat (i.e. Basic Salary + Additional Costs), or adding value in some other way (quality research etc..) your job could be at risk. Hopefully you’re working at a firm who thinks long-term, otherwise be very afraid!

    HeadHunter(Search Firm) Reply
     
  2. they are already cutting… for example Spencer Stuart have just closed some offices and made staff redundant…there will be a bloodbath in the next 3 months – guaranteed!

  3. Korn Ferry is cutting in China already

  4. “The simple fact is if you’re not at the very least covering the cost of your seat (i.e. Basic Salary + Additional Costs), or adding value in some other way (quality research etc..) your job could be at risk.”

    Sorry, but anyone achieving as little as this needs to look at finding a new profession.

  5. And Correlate (what’s left of Akamai London) have been cutting again too – last one out please switch off the lights!!

  6. Be careful Veritas, Marshall Warbourton are cutting as well I hear?

  7. Korn Ferry has drastically reduced it’s NYC office already

  8. Korn/Ferry has cut it’s staff by 10% across the US (some office have downsized by 15%) – a significant reducution. Word is that more redundancies could be in the pipline in the next 60 days.

    Korn Ferry Insider Reply
     
  9. H&S has already started cutting staff in London. Financial Services is the first one to be touched……..

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