We celebrated the first year anniversary of our Azura Search brand this month. Azura Search is part of Altum Group which has been established for seven years, however this was the first year since launching the new brand and what a fantastic year it has been. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from new and existing clients. The Azura team have made placements in 26 countries, completed 164 searches and have doubled in size.
Then Covid-19 hit and our team had to pull together to ensure we were still supporting our clients and candidates whilst working from home. It has been nine weeks now and we have got it down!
During that time it was clear the first six weeks were crisis management, businesses and their workforce's were trying to adapt and plan for the unknown, this meant searches were on hold. We have noticed that we have now entered a new phase which is seeing businesses implementing their survival plans having now adapted to their new normal. As a result our team has seen an increase in activity with the signing of new retained searches, some existing searches pick up momentum and we have had an increase in the need for interim solutions.
Market update from each Azura practice;
- During phase two of the lockdown we have seen an increase in enquiries for board and leadership assessments. From discussions this is due to the need for boards to assess if they have the experience to navigate through the new norm and often because the business is also needing to restructure or become more diverse with better digital offerings. We do this by assessing; Individual Performance, Leadership Succession, Strategy & Innovation and Stakeholder Management.
- Some businesses are beginning to re-ignite board level searches due to sudden exits
- There has also been a lot if interest in our Non-Exec Development support as board level executives ponder on weather their experience can help businesses during this period of change and beyond. In conjunction with PwC we are hosting our next bi-annual Non-Exec Development breakfast seminar in September, to help determine when, if and how to look for your first NED assignment or build a portfolio.
- Whilst CFO searches have begun to re-ignite, some at the level below are still on hold or moving very slowly. From client conversations we see this changing in the next month as many people will be staying at home for a lot longer and CFO’s are experiencing hugely increased work-loads. From discussions this will be a mix of permanent and interim hires as people can meet virtually and meet at a distant outside, depending on where they live.
- Technology led and SME Founder owned or VC backed businesses are the main companies still hiring at executive level as they have weathered the storm, have investment to spend and feel more comfortable with continuing their growth or transformation
- Jason Shaw, Head of TMT at Azura Search has added “businesses operating with a subscription based model are proving to be most resilient as the economy contracts due to coronavirus. Whilst there are companies that are seeing positive growth, those who aren’t still have a large existing subscriber base to fall back
- We have seen an increase in a need for interim solutions at all levels and believe we will see this continue to do so. The delay of IR35 has helped both clients and candidates hire at speed but there is still an appetite for fixed term contracts. There have been CEO changes and quick exits which often require an interim change of CFO and as businesses transform and change we have seen requirements for restructuring experience, especially property restructuring specialists.
International:- Amsterdam, Europe
Update from Paul Thompson, Principal, Amsterdam:
When we hosted our ‘A Digital Boardroom’ lunch seminar in Amsterdam on 4th March we did not realise how relevant the topic would be. The recent shift from office working to home working has emphasised the need for businesses to be digitally savvy not only in the way they offer their products and services but also the way in which its employees operate and interact.
- Through conversations with CEOs, CFOs and Advisors in the Netherlands and other European countries we have heard a wide range of views on how the Covid-19 crisis has impacted business. For example, content streaming and food retail businesses have flourished whilst industries reliant on B2B trade have been negatively impacted. Moreover, this crisis has presented a range of unique challenges around travel and the ability to relocate senior hires from overseas. This has in turn led to an emphasis on senior finance hires from local markets, particularly on an interim basis.
- During the lockdown Azura Search Amsterdam office has successfully placed a CFO for a prestigious media agency in Amsterdam and a Global Finance Director for a high growth technology company. Our sister company Altum Consulting has also continued to make placements at the Business & Financial Controller level on both an interim and permanent basis.
- Azura has successfully signed new retained searches so there a clearly signs the market is rebounding. Something that has really stood out is the response our network has had to our business during this challenging time. We have tried to remain in contact with as many of you as possible through a desire to offer support wherever we can. As ever, thank you to all our contacts, new and old, for the support us during this challenging time.
Completed searches during Covid-19
- Denmark CFO – Global Travel Tech Firm
- Netherlands CFO – Global Marketing Agency
- UK Divisional CFO – Global Marketing Network
- UK Director of Transformation & Control – Global Marketing Network
- Finance Director – PE owned UK based growing Real Estate business
- Global Finance Director (Amsterdam) – Tech
- Finance Director – Founder owned technology firm
- Group Financial Controller – Fast growth technology business
- CFO – Charity
- Finance Director – Charity
- Revenue planning Manager – Media technology
- Group Controller – Amsterdam – Internet
- Global FP&A Director – Global Technology business
- Divisional CFO – Global Technology Services
If you have any upcoming recruitment requirements or would like to speak to our team about their view of the market, please get in contact with us - [email protected].