Russell Reynolds vs Berg

    Who are Russell Reynolds Associates?

    Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) is a leading global leadership advisory and executive search firm established in 1969 in New York City. The firm was founded by Russell Reynolds and two partners, Richard Rainwater and Ned Simmons.

    According to Hunt Scanlon, it's the third largest executive search firm with revenues north of $600m!


    Is Russell Reynolds worth it?

    Russell Reynolds is an executive search firm that focuses on hiring transformational leaders for larger corporations. These executives have a large impact on their companies and so the search for leadership needs to have as high a success rate as possible. Korn Ferry, one of Russell Reynolds's main competitors, charger $109,000 for a single search and this is usually split in three pieces.

    • You pay a third ($30k) on signing the agreement to run a search

    • You pay a third when you receive the first list of executives

    • You pay a third when the executive has their first day on the job.

    If you're a large corporation looking for executive talent, we'd recommend sticking with large search firms due to their deep understanding of the political environments inside large corporations.

    However what if you are a start-up, looking for executive talent?

    Berg Search is a talent-as-a-service firm that partners with growth firms looking after some or all of their hiring needs.

    We treat each search like an executive-level search and we don't need $100,000 for a month's work.

    Can Berg Search provide the same quality of hire as executive search firms like Russell Reynolds?

    We've already placed the following executive:

    • Metagravity - Creative Director

    • IU Group - Head of Engineering

    • Trading Labs - CEO

    If you're a growth firm, given the significant difference in fees, we'd recommend working with Berg Search, moving on to executive search firms like Russell Reynolds if we can't deliver (psst, we will).


    History of Russell Reynolds associates

    Russell Reynolds, the firm's namesake, was a consultant at McKinsey & Company before he founded his own company. He had a vision of creating a different kind of executive search firm, one that would focus on building relationships with clients and candidates, rather than just filling job vacancies. This approach proved to be successful and the firm quickly grew in size and reputation. Today they are responsible for hiring transformational leaders in global corporations.

    In the early years, RRA focused on executive search in the financial services industry but later expanded its expertise to other industries including healthcare, consumer goods, industrial, and technology. In 1980, the firm opened its first international office in London, followed by offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Sydney.

    In 1989, Russell Reynolds was acquired by Thomson Corporation, a Canadian media conglomerate. The acquisition provided the firm with additional resources and capabilities, which helped it to expand its services and global footprint. In 2006, RRA was acquired by the Dutch executive search firm, Veldhoen & Company, and the combined firm was rebranded as Russell Reynolds Associates.

    Today, Russell Reynolds has more than 46 offices in 26 countries and works with clients across a wide range of industries and sectors. The firm has a reputation for providing high-quality, personalized service, and for its ability to identify and recruit top talent for its clients.

    Beyond their core executive search business, the company also offers culture advisory, and succession planning and supports complex leadership issues.

    Russell Reynolds associates major milestones

    Throughout its history, Russell Reynolds has achieved several major milestones that have helped to shape the firm's growth and success. Some of these include:

    • 1980: Opening of the firm's first international office in London

    • 1989: Acquisition by Thomson Corporation

    • 1993: Launch of RRA's Leadership Advisory Services practice

    • 2000: Introduction of the firm's proprietary assessment tool, the Leadership Span Assessment

    • 2006: Acquisition by Veldhoen & Company and rebranding as Russell Reynolds Associates

    • 2015: Launch of the firm's Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Services practice

    • 2019: Celebration of the firm's 50th anniversary


    Berg vs Russell Reynolds


    Russell Reynolds Associates is one of the 5 largest executive search firms, known colloquially as the SHREK firms. They provide a broad set of services for large multinationals which includes executive search, recruitment, global leadership advisory and consultancy (which helps improve leadership performance).

    Their focus is on the largest multinational firms around the world; complex organisations with complex leadership issues. The needs of these companies are markedly different from those of growth firms.

    An average search costs in excess of $100,000.

    We don't have as good a reputation as Russell Reynolds...yet. Check back in a few years!



    Both companies utilise a similar executive search approach. Russell Reynolds Associates has a large database because of its age which means they have a larger initial list to choose from. However, despite this large list, you must wait three weeks to receive a shortlist.

    Berg has a smaller database but puts significantly more resources into each search. Using three times as many people, Berg will reach out to the market, engage passive candidates and deliver the first tailored list in 10 days.

    At the end of the day, executive recruitment is straightforward but it takes smart people and time. Both Russell Reynolds Associates and Berg Search hire exceptional smart people. Both of us put extensive time in our search processes although Berg Search typically puts more hours into each search.


    Russell Reynolds has a similar fee structure to Korn Ferry, whose average placement costs $109,000.

    Berg Search is at least 75% cheaper.