Headhunters merge

Specialist financial services headhunting firms Morrison Farish and Executive Impact decide to merge.

Two of the newer firms in the regional headhunting world have decided to merge their respective firms. Andrew Farish, the 37 year old founder of Morrison Farish, and 43 year old David Bulbeck who set up Executive Impact, have decided to pool their two companies. The new entity will be called Bulbeck Farish Executive Search and will have offices in both Hong Kong and Singapore.

Bulbeck founded Executive Impact four years ago in Singapore after a career in equity sales spanning more than a decade. Bulbeck had worked stints on the desks at HG Asia and Jardine Fleming, as well as managing institutional sales teams at SG Securities and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette.

Farish established his firm in Hong Kong in the middle of 2003 following seven years working for other specialist financial services search firms including Alexander Mann, Stephens Associates and Pelham Search Pacific.

Bulbeck Farish will have a primary focus on equity research, sales and trading as well as coverage of the debt, derivatives, structured products, and fund management markets. According to the two principals, the company also plans to expand its coverage into allied areas such as corporate finance in 2005.

"David brings solid head hunting experience to the table as well as a great deal of experience from within the broking world," says Farish. "Having successfully managed institutional sales desks, he possesses considerable insight and the ability to offer clients a different perspective. Furthermore, the fact that there is a lot of synergy in our businesses will enable us to offer our clients more in depth coverage."

The two deny that the timing of the deal is designed to capture what is likely to be a veritable merry-go-round of moves in the first half of 2005, as bonuses disappoint and banks bulk up. However, like other executive search firms in recent years Bulbeck and Farish stress that research work will be equally if not more important than having a good contact book.

"For me Andrew's experience in search process with some of the best regarded firms in the business was a big draw," says Bulbeck. "The new entity will put a lot of resources into information gathering and market intelligence as well as building a strong research product, which we very much see as the backbone of the business. In combining our respective strengths we can offer clients something fresh."

This latest deal comes at a time of vibrant health for the regional headhunting firms. This has resulted in a trendette of firms hiring, merging and new firms starting off. This year, established outfits such as Global Sage and Heidrick & Struggles have been adding staff.

Mergers have happened in the last few years between Sarah Wells Associates and Taylor:Bennet and between Whitney Group and O'Neill Associates (now called The Whitney Group). New players such as Quest Research and Advanz Group have also entered the market, both meeting with considerable early success.