Four search firms share the top ranking in high-level banking and finance jobs in this year's London Professional Recruitment Guide. They are two boutiques - Hogarth Davies Lloyd and the Rose Partnership - and two global operators - Russell Reynolds and Spencer Stuart.
Hogarth Davies Lloyd, whose expertise includes fixed income, equities and investment banking, achieved its top billing after not even receiving a mention in last year's rankings. The other three firms in the top tier were highly ranked last year.
The annual survey was compiled from the views of HR managers in financial institutions.
Listed jointly in the second tier of this year's rankings are six firms - Armstrong International, Baines Gwinner, Egon Zehnder, Heidrick & Struggles, Sainty Hird and Whitehead Mann. Last year, Egon Zehnder was in the top tier.
The guide, produced by 500 Publishing, warns that these and other high-quality recruitment companies in the UK banking and finance sector are outnumbered by "less-than-scrupulous" rivals.
It notes that recruitment is unregulated and that anyone with a telephone can enter what is a highly profitable market, with many search consultants on six-figure earnings packages or higher.
However there is likely to be a shake-out in the recruitment industry this year because of the uncertain state of the economy, the guide says. It adds that this is likely to favour the high quality consultancies.
Mark Cusick, publishing director of the guide, said its purpose is to provide transparency in a competitive and confusing market place. "We wanted to ascertain opinions of HR and line managers on the quality of service that the individual consultancies provide and also the quality of candidates," he said.
The guide also lists 'leading individuals' in the search industry. They include Martin Armstrong, head of Armstrong International Jonathan Baines, head of the global investment banking practice at Baines Gwinner Elizabeth Hammond expert in equities at Heidrick & Struggles International James Hogarth, co-head of Hogarth Davies, and Matthew Wright at Russell Reynolds.
At the mid-market level of search and selection, the top tier comprises BBM Associates, Mantaray Partners, Richmond & Co, Sheffield Haworth and Stephens International.
The guide says consultancies at this level are upgrading their services, blurring the distinction between them and the senior level consultancies.
The second tier of mid-market level firms includes Alexander Mann Group, Hoggett Bowers, Search Partners and Stephen Raby Associates.