Executive Search Firms Shatter Growth Records According to Hunt Scanlon Media

April 7, 2022 – GREENWICH, Conn.April 7, 2022 — Hunt Scanlon Media has released its annual rankings of leading executive search firms. In the U.S. and globally, billions of dollars poured into the high-end recruiting sector in 2021, a result of pent-up demand for executives and their key reports.

“This is unlike anything we have seen in 34 years of tracking the recruiting industry,” said Erik M. Boender, vice president of market intelligence at Hunt Scanlon. “Recruiters are busier than ever, and we see a long runway ahead for growth and expansion.”

According to data analysis conducted by Hunt Scanlon, 48 of the 50 largest U.S. recruiting firms enjoyed double digit growth in 2021. No. 6 ranked True Search was recognized as the fastest growing search firm among the 30 largest talent providers. It reported $265 million in U.S. fees, a 132% rise.

“Market demand for senior leadership talent remains red hot,” said Hunt Scanlon vice president Michael S. Hawkins. “PE-backed companies and the emerging growth and technology sectors have been key business drivers for search firms and will continue to be so.”

Moving talent and building pipelines is getting harder, according to the Hunt Scanlon report. “Benchmarking talent for culture fit, creating retainer-based subscription products around executive compensation, and extending actionable, curated data to clients is where we see the next big opportunity for search firms,” said Scott A. Scanlon, CEO of Hunt Scanlon Media.

Hunt Scanlon Report Highlights:

  • The 50 largest U.S. recruiting firms produced record revenues in 2021, reporting $5.9 billion in fees generated, a $2 billion, or 52%, one-year rise.
  • Perennial SHREK recruiters added nearly $2 billion in global revenue in 2021, breaking all previous records. As a group, the ‘Hunt Scanlon Big 5 Global Search Firms’ reported $6.5 billion in professional fees, a 42% jump.
  • In the U.S., boutique recruiting providers, which offer more bespoke industry and functional solutions, shattered old records as the flight to specialist search providers intensified in 2021. As a group, these firms reported $2.2 billion in revenues, a 58% rise.
  • A flurry of consolidations and M&A activity continued at a feverish pace in 2021. Among the buyers: Private equity-backed search firms which now include four of the Top 10 U.S. providers. Acquisition activity will extend into 2025.
  • The private equity, emerging growth, and tech sectors provided the motherload of growth for search firms in 2021. Among the mandates for recruiters: Finding top-flight change agent CEOs, filling out the C-suites of existing and newly formed portfolio companies, and recruiting board directors.
  • Search capacity and assignment volume problems plagued recruiters 2021, creating a backlog of search assignments. Under-resourcing is expected to persist well into 2024.
  • There will be upward pressure on professional search fees as growth in assignments continues into 2024.
  • Benchmarking tools – from leadership assessment diagnostics to compensation analysis – are expected to proliferate through 2030.

To view Hunt Scanlon’s latest rankings, visit https://huntscanlon.com/top-50/.

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