The worldwide Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) annually surveys its global membership, executive talent advisors to the world’s most successful businesses, on the key executive talent trends they are witnessing across sectors, C-suite functions and geographic markets.
The insights revealed in the report provide timely business intelligence to decision makers as well as valuable guidance to executive candidates considering new opportunities in the year ahead. This year, our survey was completed by 310 AESC member consultants worldwide, including 111 leaders of executive search and leadership advisory firms.
AESC members cite global economic and geopolitical uncertainty as top business concerns, but cast a significantly more positive business outlook for 2017 as compared to 2016. Globally there is strong demand for top executive talent, with business leaders identifying executive search as the favored form of talent acquisition for top executives, including searches for C-suite executives, board-level searches, confidential searches, and searches for hard-to-fill positions.
Second, the executive search and leadership consulting profession continues to grow, with increasing demand for services beyond executive search, including succession planning, internal talent assessment and board advisory. Especially in times of uncertainty, business leaders value being advised by experts who can be trusted based on their deep industry and functional expertise, and their ability to engage with and entice the best candidates locally and globally, as well as provide competitive business advantages through the optimization of current and future talent strategy.
Across the board, AESC members are more optimistic this year about the global economy, their country’s economy, the executive talent advisory profession and their own businesses. This year, 64% of leaders at AESC member firms have a more optimistic outlook for their businesses, compared to only 41% last year (a 23 percentage point increase). As uncertainty looms, business leaders turn to Professional Services advisors for strategic insights and to minimize risk. We see this reflected also in AESC’s recent 2017 BlueSteps Executive Job Outlook report, where Professional Services executives revealed a 41% increase in optimism regarding the executive job market this year than the same time last year. Across the globe this year, the climate for business leaders will be cautious, but more than ever, they will value the deep insights and expertise trusted advisors can deliver for long-term competitive business advantage.
Outlook by Sector
AESC members believe that Technology and Healthcare/Life Sciences will be the two sectors that will experience the most growth in 2017. These are the fifth and fourth, respectively, largest industry sectors for the executive search profession currently and continue to represent significant future growth opportunities.
For business leaders in these industries, this data represents a possible indicator as to how these sectors will perform through the year. For executive candidates working in these sectors or seeking to transition across sectors, the forecast can help with career management strategy in 2017.
Outlook by Function
The forecast for the Technology sector also informs the functions that AESC members expect to be most in-demand during 2017. For the first time this year, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) now rank among AESC members as the top function with the most growing demand, followed by always in demand CEO and Board of Director searches.
CIO/CTO searches rank third for high growth demand in 2017. As technology and digitalization continue to disrupt all sectors, organizational leaders more and more turn to trusted advisors to find and develop the right talent and strategies to turn disruption into opportunity.
Outlook by Geographic Market
The United States is the market expected by AESC members to experience the most growth in 2017, although with less certainty than last year, ranking ten percentage points than the second market expected to experience the most growth this year, Greater China, which was ranked third after India in 2016 and more than 20 percentage points greater than the growth forecast for that market last year.
AESC is the voice of excellence for the executive search and leadership consulting profession worldwide. Our rigorous Code of Professional Practice guides our members in nearly 1,300 offices in 74 countries and beyond to serve as strategic advisors on behalf of their clients. In turn, AESC members are best positioned to provide companies with a competitive advantage—the ability to find, attract and develop the best talent in the world and ensure that executives are successfully integrated. By virtue of selecting an AESC member, clients can be secure in their choice of consulting firm, and can reap the benefits that only a trusted advisor can deliver.