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More recruiter pain, but opportunistic hiring continues

Watmough Mallett, a derivatives, fund and finance recruitment firm is being wound down. Korn/Ferry International is said to be having second thoughts about some of the European staff it hired from Whitney Group recently, and Michael Page has issued a profits warning.

“We are winding down the business in an orderly fashion,” says Tim Watmough, managing director of Watmough Mallett. “This has nothing to do with insolvency. Everyone will be paid what is due to them.” Fourteen staff are being made redundant.

Watmough was coy about the reasons for closing the firm which he founded seven years ago. However, the managing director of another financial services recruiter says many of those in the industry are now being asked to secure company debt against their homes: “For a lot of people, this is more than their risk appetite can bear,” he says.

Separately, Korn/Ferry International, which last month hired two associates, three consultants and a PA from the European shell of US search firm Whitney Group, is rumoured to be having second thoughts about the move. Insiders say the two associates have already been let go.
Tom Seaden, head of the Whitney Group’s European business and one of the hires, passed away last month. Two consultants are left.

Lastly, Michael Page, which as a listed company is a helpful barometer of the recruitment climate, today issued a profits warning and promised to cut 400 staff, citing slowing recruitment demand from the legal, financial, and retail sectors.

Banks eager to upgrade

The good news, is that banks are still keen to hire opportunistically. A poll undertaken by McKinsey in early November (and reported in the Financial News) found that 21% of financial services firms were keen to hire talent that might otherwise be unavailable. This was higher than any other industry.

Comments (9)

  1. Recruitment firms are suffering like the rest of the members of the market place. The weak will go as is being seen and those whose appetites were too big will suffer. There are however opportunities out there and those dextrous enough will if not prosper cartainly survive until the recovery begins in May 09 .Retrenchment and merger are most likely and a few will go to the wall.Certainly the inside talk is that one of the “giants” of the recruitment game is about to go under.

  2. Every BANK is indeed happy to hire opportunistically, but few BANKERS are currently willing to put their name on the dotted line to make it happen.

  3. a big shame – Watmough Mallett are a quality outfit, ethical, knowledgeabe with plenty of decent – not enough liek them around

  4. I love it when the competition feels the pain; it means that those of us who have a more robust business model will clear up. Excellent news and good riddance to the Johnny come latelys to recruitment. Perhaps some of the failed recruiters who moved to in house recruitment roles will get fired too as most are useless and obstructive. Hehe……

    Recruiter of 21 years Reply
  5. Burger King ARE hiring.

  6. It is a shame WM are shutting down, Tim Watmough & Adrian Mallett were/are two genuinely quality and ethical headhunters, widely liked and respected. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for various others at the firm.

    Of course, they were the ones earning the money (together with the best billers), but its their firm – they are allowed to make money from it. They did not recruit on the basis that each employee would make millions – they were very upfront about the realism of headhunting for a boutique firm.

    In an industry plagued by cowboys and quick-buck mentalities, it was nice to be reminded that not all recruiters/headhunters are like this.

    I wish them both the best of luck.

    ex-WM employee Reply
  7. Although this article is somewhat gloomy, my view, having worked in IT recruitment for almost 25 years, is that whatever the current market climate there is always a need for high calibre recruiters i.e. consistent (not one year wonders!) revenue generators with consistently high ethics and morals!

  8. Korn/Ferry have shown there organisation skills well, hiring and making redundant people so quickly shows real class!

  9. I know Watmough Mallett well and I would like to say something in support of the employees! The owners were ably supported by several consultants and researchers during the course of the firm’s relatively brief existence and it was this enduring support that kept the firm afloat for as long as it did float. The slightly mishievous undertone emanating from an ‘ex WM employee’ denigrating ‘ various others’ at the firm whilst canonising the owners does not ring true! The success or otherwise of any recruitment business, or for that matter any business, rests upon the collective responsibility, will and effort of ALL of it’s staff and not just one or two, even if they do happen to be the owners. To think that is just being plain naive!

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