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Once again, IIC Partners is rated first among pure networks in the annual ranking based on global revenues.

PARIS - “Despite the dramatic economic slowdown late in 2008, we have succeeded in holding revenues relatively steady, reflecting the strong support of our client base,” said IIC Partners Board Chair Martine Bournerias of Paris. 

“A few competitors showed year-over-year growth, but this was primarily due to early fiscal year-ends that fell before the worst impacts of the downturn were felt by most organizations,” Bournerias noted. “Overall, revenues were down and some were off substantially from the previous year. IIC Partners revenues were down three per cent but we increased the revenue gap between ourselves and ninth-placed TRANSEARCH from $7 million last year to $11 million this year.”

Bounerias noted that Boyden, which has not participated in revenue rankings for several years, is now placed tenth, just $1 million behind TRANSEARCH in total revenues.

The ERN survey shows that IIC Partners would also place eighth by geographic coverage, with 58 offices worldwide. But the ERN figures are based on numbers in late 2008, before offices in New York (WTW), Prague, Bratislava and Villnius resigned from IIC Partners. 

“We know very clearly that 2009 will be a difficult year for many members and for IIC Partners, as well,” she said. “Our global budget will be tight, due to the reduction in memberships. We will do everything we can to assist members through this period and to reduce costs of global operations.”

On a positive note, she said, Americas vice chair Paul Dinte and board member Jeff Harris have identified prospective new members in Bogota and Atlanta, who are expected to join the organization later in the year.

“We’ve reached a size where we can assure our clients global coverage and where the true measure of credibility lies in revenues,” she said. “By that measure, we are very consistently and solidly among the largest search groups in the world and that’s the message we need to send out to client communities.”

ERN said that in 2008 the global search industry reported growth of three per cent and observed that the figures indicate that for executive search, the “initial downturn is milder, as compared with the more dramatic drop in 2001-02.” In 2001, search revenues were off 22 per cent. But the comparison is questionable on two counts:

 

  • 2008 started off very strongly before a drop-off in October; and,

  • ERN restated 2007 revenues for several major players before calculating revenue changes for 2008. Virtually all of these restatements resulted in lower 2007 revenues and more optimistic revenue-change figures than would otherwise have been the case. ERN is issuing a statement to explain the reasons for restated 2007 revenues and this will be posted to IICNet when received.

 

“There is no doubt,” Bournerias said,abc “that 2009 will be a challenging year for the search business. But I was impressed with the resilience of our members when I met with partners from the Americas in Buenos Aires last month. Our firms are larger and better entrenched in their markets than they were eight years ago and I think we will emerge from the current downturn with a stronger market position, both as individual firms and as a global organization.