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Headhunter suing over unpaid bonus

Not uncommon in the investment banking world, a bonus dispute has surfaced in the headhunting arena. Mark Horlock, a former equities consultant at Akamai Financial, is understood to be in litigation with his former employer and its new owner, Hexagon Human Capital Plc, over its alleged failure to pay his 2007 bonus and the circumstances of his dismissal.

Akamai was sold to Hexagon for 1 in April, following the discovery of accounting irregularities at its parent company, Hat Pin.

Horlock, who has since moved to rival search firm Marshall Warburton, declined to comment. Gavin Bonnet, executive director at Akamai, denies that there are any issues over outstanding bonuses: “All contractual bonus awards have been fully paid to staff in London and Dubai.”

Anne Pritam, employment partner at law firm Stevenson Harwood, says bonus disputes do happen in executive search, but are less prevalent than in banking.

Pritam adds that headhunter bonus claims are more straightforward than banking bonus claims because headhunters’ bonuses tend to be based on percentage commissions and are not discretionary.

Rumour has it there’s at least one other headhunter case currently in the market – related to a redundancy at another top firm.

Although Akamai has cut 25% of its staff, Ed Bathgate, head of search to search firm Longbottom, says there haven’t been many job cuts at City headhunters: “Good people are still making money. They’re not making as much money as they were last year, but there’s still work to be done placing people at second-tier and smaller houses.”

Comments (13)

  1. I’m considering suing the governemnt over stealing more then half of my bonus for student loan! It’s no good having a first class education if you can’t afford some cheese on toast every now and again.

    Headhunters should be paid in scalps anyway.

  2. It is pretty common knowledge in the market that Akamai have not paid bonuses as promised, hence the reason that most of the staff have walked out.

  3. It is a disgrace if headhunting firms such as Akamai are not honouring their obligations.

  4. I heard that the Staff there are still waiting to get the other half of their bonuses.

  5. Whilst I don’t know any of the facts or circumstances relating to the case you report on, it is perhaps worth highlighting the clear difference between ‘bonus’ and ‘commission’ payments – the former typically being a discretionary award, the latter part of a contractual arrangement between employer and employee.
    Some years ago, ex-colleagues and I found ourselves in the awkward situation of having to seek legal advice regarding the non-payment of commissions due by a former employer.
    Despite advisers suggesting that under the terms of employment contracts in place we had a watertight case, when the legal letters started rolling, our former employer simply put the company into liquidation with resultant effect that 4 consultants lost very significant six figure commission revenues between them…and their jobs.

    PhD in Hindsight Reply
  6. My close friend use to work for Akamai and i think people there got treated badly

  7. I am sure that Ed Bathgate’s Clients are happy at being classed as Second Tier – NOT !!

  8. Whilst I do not support any firm that reneges on bonuses, I find it very disappointing that people feel the need to air their grievances publically – it is a little like the types that appear on The Jerry Springer Show – most distasteful and does nothing for the image of the person with the complaint.

    Appreciate it says “Declined to comment” but really, where did this come from otherwise?

    It is entirely unfair to the past friends and colleagues still working at Akamai who have survived the incompetence of Hat Pin and are now working to rebuild the once great firm.

    All very sad!

  9. The downturn in the market will see the end of “cow boy” operators. If recruiters are expected to recuit for investment banks surely the said banks should see how they treat there own employees before entrusting them to hire for them. It somewhat highlights the due diligence conducted by Hr departments with regards to there suppliers. There are many ethical firms who always pay, who havent sold out. Bottom line – research the management of the firm you are due to join, good luck to Mr Horlock.

  10. As usual another article purely based on random quotes and misquotes with little substance. How can a search to search firm which based its name on a fictional character in Harry Potter (Neville Longbottom) make comments on which bank is hiring?

    weliveinatopia Reply
  11. Does anybody know the other firm being sued?

    Curious Reader Reply
  12. I think it is very sad how a small number of managers have made themselves rich at the expense of the hard working staff. If Mark is owed money the he should get it. Simple as that.

  13. Mr Survivor just because you were working for the right team and were lucky not to get axed, try not to go all Righteous and o i am the good guy and one shouldn’t really be talking publicy about bonuses etc. Mate people got messed over and if you were one of them i would have like to see your morals then….

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