Evolving through challenge

In a world with soaring interest rates, lower deal volume and value, and volatility within the investment banks, weathering the economic storm has been the name of the game across the industry. However, evolving in challenging markets is something that we thrive on at Kea. Having been founded by two terrifyingly ambitious women shortly after the financial crash, adding value for our clients during chaos feels like quite a familiar and oddly comfortable place to be.

Volatility brings about opportunity. Those funds that are positioned to transact and raise funds through this current climate have been able to pick up high-quality talent across levels – often dislodging more senior talent that would otherwise not be moveable. As such, we have more than tripled the number of successful Senior Associate to Principal level placements over the past three years, a segment that we have organically grown into servicing and has become a core area of business for us across Private Equity, Venture Capital/ & Growth Equity, Credit & Special Situations, and Public Markets. We have also deepened our coverage in segments that have continued to scale despite market challenges: we proudly work with several of the market’s leading Impact and ESG-focused investment teams, we have continued to deepen our footprint with all-weather Special Situations investors, and we have partnered with handful of ambitious first-time managers, working closely together in building teams from the ground up.

Leveraging the seven European languages spoken by our team, we have continued to expand our international coverage. We have worked on successful mandates across the European continent, with local and international funds that have localised their presence, doing so from our centralised hub in London. Working as one team to tackle international searches has allowed us to continue to scale our presence, whilst maintaining our standards, so clients across geographies can benefit from the same standard of work that we’re proud to deliver. Our international focus has expanded as far as the US, where we have worked with US funds that are new to Europe build-out their local presence.

The relative slow-down in market activity has meant more time to reflect on the value we provide for our clients beyond search. Since starting out, we have been driving forward at such a pace that it’s rare that the market (and our clients!) allow us the time to really take stock and think more intentionally around how we can evolve our offering to be more value-add. We have ramped up our focus on data & insights, a business area that has allowed us to use data on candidate moves and hiring trends to drive impactful conversations with clients around future recruitment strategy. The pièce de résistance is our 2024 Talent Shift Report, a comprehensive data-driven look into key market trends and candidate motivators, due for release in Q2 2024.

A challenging market has made us more opportunistic and thoughtful with how we can continue to service our clients regardless of market dynamics. This has resulted in several evolutions in our business and new areas that we’re excited to continue building. With this, alongside the green shoots of a market rebound in mind, our commitment to our clients is clear: we will continue to evolve with them and to ensure our partnerships remain value-add.