By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

No one’s crystal ball has been very reliable, lately, when it comes to the economic future.  In the Q4 2008 issue of this e-newsletter we wrote, “we detect a sense of caution on the part of BV/LS employers when it comes to hiring”.

And while that sense of caution still guides our thinking at the end of 2009, the fog is beginning to lift.

Let’s face it.  It’s not been the best year for business valuation.  To be sure, there have been pockets of success; largely among practices with strong litigation support components, and those nimble enough to shift gears into more profitable engagement flow.  At the same time, practices have had to shed payroll.  Some of this has been at higher levels where the motivation has been strictly saving money.  Some has been at lower levels where cost-savings have combined with productivity considerations.

Conversations during the early part of the fourth quarter have been more optimistic, however.  Practice leaders are reporting that business is returning; not to its previous “gang-busters” level, yet, but it’s returning.  Calls are coming in.   Engagement letters which were issued months ago, and which sat idle on someone’s desk, are arriving with retainer checks.  There’s light at the end of the tunnel, in other words, and it’s not just a gorilla with a flashlight.

Soon enough, utilization will be stretched as far as it can be stretched, and hiring will strengthen.  That early hiring will happen at lower levels in the hierarchy and work upward as work expands and managers get stretched too thin.  We expect that by the end of Q2, or early Q3, of 2010 improved conditions will warrant additions in practices, more consistently.

The fundamentals that drove the BV talent shortage to begin with have not changed.  We do anticipate that the shortage will return.  Just when is hard to say just now.  Our crystal ball isn’t that clear, yet.

John Borrowman