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Korn Ferry
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SEC Document
SEC Filing

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

Form 10-K

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended April 30, 2019

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from ____to _____

Commission File Number 001-14505

 

KORN FERRY

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 

Delaware

 

95-2623879

(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

 

 

 

1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 2600, Los Angeles, California

 

90067

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(310) 552-1834

(Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code)

 

Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Each Class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share

KFY

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes  No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

 

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer 

 

 

 

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes  No 

The number of shares outstanding of our common stock as of June 21, 2019 was 56,436,120 shares. The aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting and non-voting common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant on October 31, 2018, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter (assuming that the registrant’s only affiliates are its officers, directors and 10% or greater stockholders) was approximately $2,029,075,004 based upon the closing market price of $45.14 on that date of a share of common stock as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.

Documents incorporated by reference

Portions of the registrant’s definitive Proxy Statement for its 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders scheduled to be held on October 3, 2019 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.

 

 


KORN FERRY

Index to Annual Report on Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended April 30, 2019

 

Item #

Description

Page

 

Part I.

 

Item 1

Business

1

Item 1A

Risk Factors

10

Item 1B

Unresolved Staff Comments

23

Item 2

Properties

23

Item 3

Legal Proceedings

23

Item 4

Mine Safety Disclosures

23

 

Executive Officers

23

 

Part II.

 

Item 5

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

25

Item 6

Selected Financial Data

27

Item 7

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

29

Item 7A

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

49

Item 8

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

50

Item 9

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

50

Item 9A

Controls and Procedures

50

Item 9B

Other Information

50

 

Part III.

 

Item 10

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

51

Item 11

Executive Compensation

51

Item 12

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

51

Item 13

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

51

Item 14

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

51

 

Part IV.

 

Item 15

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

52

Item 16

Form 10-K Summary

54

 

Signatures

55

 

Financial Statements and Financial Statement Schedules

F-1

 

 

 

 


PART I.

Item 1. Business

ABOUT KORN FERRY

Korn Ferry (referred to herein as the “Company” or in the first person notations “we,” “our,” and “us”) is a global organizational consulting firm, synchronizing our clients’ strategy and talent to drive superior business performance.

We operate in 104 offices in 52 countries, enabling us to deliver our solutions on a global basis, wherever our clients do business. As of April 30, 2019, we had 8,678 full-time employees, including 1,448 consultants who are primarily responsible for originating client services.

During fiscal 2019, we partnered with 13,834 client organizations. Our clients include many of the world’s largest and most prestigious public and private companies, middle market and emerging growth companies, as well as government and nonprofit organizations, including 98% of the Fortune 100 and 93% of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100. We have built strong client loyalty, with 90% of our engagements in fiscal 2019 being completed on behalf of clients for whom we had conducted engagements in the previous three fiscal years.

We have made significant investments in our business that have strengthened our intellectual property (“IP”), enhanced our geographical presence, added complementary offerings to deepen client relationships and broadened our capabilities around talent acquisition, organizational strategy, assessment, development and rewards. Approximately 70% of our revenue comes from clients that utilize multiple lines of our business.

We were originally formed as a California corporation in November 1969 and reincorporated as a Delaware corporation in fiscal 2000.

On June 12, 2018, the Board of Directors of Korn Ferry approved a plan (the “Plan”) to go to market under a single, master brand architecture and to simplify the Company’s organizational structure by eliminating and/or consolidating certain legal entities and implementing a rebranding of the Company to offer the Company’s current products and services using the “Korn Ferry” name, branding and trademarks. In connection with the Plan, (i) the Company has sunset all sub-brands, including Futurestep, Hay Group and Lominger, among others, and (ii) effective as of January 1, 2019, the Company has been renamed “Korn Ferry.” The Company is continuing to harmonize under one brand to help the firm position itself as a preeminent organizational consulting firm and bring more client awareness to its broad range of talent management solutions. While the rebranding has not impacted the Company’s segment financial reporting, the Company renamed its Hay Group segment as Advisory and its Futurestep segment as RPO & Professional Search. The Company’s Executive Search segment name remains unchanged.

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). Our reports, proxy statements and other documents filed electronically with the SEC are available at the website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov.

We also make available, free of charge on the Investor Relations portion of our website at http://ir.kornferry.com, our annual, quarterly, and current reports, and, if applicable, amendments to those reports, filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such reports with, or furnish them to, the SEC at www.sec.gov.

We also make available on the Investor Relations portion of our website at http://ir.kornferry.com press releases and related earnings presentations and other important information, which we encourage you to review.

Our Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and the charters of the Audit Committee, Compensation and Personnel Committee, and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of our Board of Directors are also posted on the Investor Relations portion of our website at http://ir.kornferry.com. Stockholders may request copies of these documents by writing to our Corporate Secretary at 1900 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 2600, Los Angeles, California 90067.

THE KORN FERRY OPPORTUNITY

Aligned around our vision to be the preeminent organizational consulting firm, we are pursuing an ambitious strategy that will help us to focus relentlessly on clients and collaborate intensively across the organization. This approach builds on the best of our past and gives us a clear path to the future with focused initiatives to increase our client and commercial impact.

Korn Ferry is transforming how clients address their talent management needs. We have evolved from a mono-line business to a global organizational consulting firm, giving our consultants more frequent and expanded opportunities to engage with clients.

1


While most organizations can develop a sound strategy, they often struggle with how to make it stick. That is where we come in: synchronizing an organization’s strategy with its talent to drive superior performance. We help companies design their organization—the structure, roles and responsibilities—to seize these opportunities. In addition, we help organizations select and hire the talent they need to execute their strategy—and show them the best way to compensate, develop and motivate their people.

We do this through our five core solution sets:

Core Solutions

 

Organizational Strategy

We map talent strategy to business strategy by designing operating models and organizational structures that align to them, helping organizations put their plans into action. We make sure they have the right people, in the right roles, engaged and enabled to do the right things.

Assessment and Succession

We provide actionable, research-backed insights that allow organizations to understand the true capabilities of their people so they can make decisions that ensure the right leaders are ready—when and where they are needed—now and in the future.

Talent Acquisition

From executive search to recruitment process outsourcing, we integrate scientific research with our practical experience and industry-specific expertise to recruit professionals of all levels and functions for client organizations.

Leadership Development

We help leaders at all levels of an organization achieve their vision, purpose and strategy. We combine expertise, science and proven techniques with forward thinking and creativity to build leadership experiences that help entry to senior level leaders grow and deliver superior results.

Rewards and Benefits

We help organizations design rewards to achieve their strategic objectives. We help them pay their people fairly for doing the right things—with rewards they value—at a cost the organization can afford.

 

Integrated Solutions

Additionally, we deliver differentiated approaches for our clients through our integrated market offerings, which bring together our best thinking from across our core solutions. These offerings target specific client needs, guided by an ever-changing business environment. 

One such strategic growth area is transaction services related to mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and divestitures. A key differentiator with this service is our ability to help organizations drive growth by aligning leadership, talent and culture to the investment thesis during the integration process—from the C-suite through all employee levels. We also help companies develop and execute cost optimization strategies around rewards, organization design and workforce planning, to prepare them for potential market volatility.

Other integrated offerings focus on our clients’ transformational challenges. Our digital transformation service helps clients execute on a digital operating model, including the introduction and integration of new agile ways of working. Rich proprietary data enables our clients to better deliver the right value proposition to attract, retain and engage digital talent. In addition, we help specific functional areas, such as HR, develop their future-state model within a digital environment.

Our diversity and inclusion (“D&I”) service helps clients innovate and grow by creating an inclusive culture and diverse workforce. Organizations are in different places on their D&I journeys, ranging from compliance-driven, values-driven, talent performance driven, and beyond. Therefore, we combine our insights into a single offering that can be tailored to different markets and buyers.

From core through integrated, across our solution portfolio, we have the advantage of best-in-class solutions, products and talent, coupled with deep market expertise, to deliver a seamless approach to organization, talent and rewards strategies. Our change management capabilities further support our clients, through the successful execution of their transformational strategies and the effective implementation of their people and culture programs.

OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND TECHNOLOGY

We know what good looks like: We bring together the industry knowledge, assessments, and data to benchmark clients against the best. We offer a complete view of the talent they need and the talent they have. We know if their rewards are fair and effective. And we align their structures, role profiles, and people to support the strategy so that clients know where to focus their efforts to create lasting change in the organization.

2


The Talent Hub

At the core of our approach is deep IP and research that allows us to deliver meaningful business outcomes for our clients. We house all of this data inside our Talent Hub. With more than four billion data points in total, including 69 million assessments, profiles of eight million candidates, rewards data on 20 million professionals and engagement data on more than seven million professionals, our Talent Hub is the science-based engine that uses this rich data set to fuel all of our services, solutions and products, connecting dots to drive meaningful change.

Advanced Analytics

Core IP data and assets include proprietary leadership assessment, recruitment and development models, emotional and social competencies, human motives and values, job grading, engagement and rewards systems. We integrate and build upon our data sets using advanced modeling and artificial intelligence (“AI”) to produce predictive insights and deliver demonstrable client impact.

The Korn Ferry Institute

The Korn Ferry Institute, our research and analytics arm, unites three areas: agile client execution; applied research and analytics; and breakthrough innovation. These teams work together to help business and public-sector leaders understand the key trends and drivers of human and organizational performance, so that they make better, science-based decisions on critical leadership, people, management and policy issues.

At the highest level, the Korn Ferry Institute explores three themes:

 

1.

People, organization and technology innovation;

 

2.

Data analytics for human and business performance; and

 

3.

New demographic trends.

In the fiscal year ahead, we will continue to innovate and simplify our IP for greater leverage of our data set, driving even greater business impact.

INDUSTRY TRENDS

In this competitive global economic environment, our clients are seeking new pathways to drive operational excellence and superior performance outcomes. This trend is attractive to our sector, as organizations are increasingly turning to partners like Korn Ferry to synchronize their strategy with their talent as an answer to today’s most pressing business challenges, specifically:

 

Achieving growth and cost synergies from M&A transactions without destroying employee engagement.

 

Having the right people, mindsets and structures to achieve successful digital transformations.

 

Managing potential market volatility by reducing cost in their reward structures and workforce mix.

 

Creating cultures of inclusion where diversity is intrinsically valued; where every individual is able to contribute fully; and where all talented people can advance through the organization regardless of their gender, background or other identifying factors.

 

Changing ingrained ways of thinking and building strategies that energize employees and drive performance in the face of disruptive change.

 

Improving the quality of service delivery in core functions to create strategic competitive advantage.

In addition, we believe the following factors will have a long-term positive impact on our industry:

 

Companies are actively in search of trusted advisors that can offer a full suite of organizational consulting products and solutions, to manage the multiple needs of their business on a global scale using a common language.

 

Over the next decade, demand for skilled workers will outstrip supply, resulting in a global talent shortage. Organizations must make talent strategy a key priority and take steps now to educate, train, and upskill their existing workforces.

3


 

Companies are increasingly leveraging big data and predictive analytics to measure the influence of activities across all aspects of their business, including their people. They expect their partners to deliver superior metrics and better ways of driving results.

 

There is an increasing demand for professionals with not just the right experience, but also the right leadership competencies, traits and drivers to meet the requirements of the position and organizational culture today and prepare it for tomorrow. 

 

Executive management tenure continues to hover at historically low levels.

 

The balance of power is shifting from the employer to the employee, as more people take charge of their own careers and the gig economy continues to grow in popularity.

 

Talent mobility is being recognized as a critical driver in the recruitment, development and retention of an organization’s people, particularly their early career professionals.

 

Succession planning remains under heightened scrutiny amidst pressure to generate growth, shorter CEO tenures and the emphasis being placed on making succession planning a systemic governance process within global organizations.

 

Executive pay is under a perpetual spotlight, making it imperative that organizations get this right to ensure the public trust and establish a functional compensation strategy that starts right at the top.

 

Companies are more determined than ever to close the gender gap on pay and advancement to leadership roles.

 

More companies are maintaining strategic focus by choosing to outsource non-core functions like talent acquisition to RPO providers who can offer efficient, high-quality services.

GROWTH STRATEGY

Our objective is to expand our position as the preeminent organizational consulting firm. In order to meet this objective, we will continue to pursue our multi-pronged strategy:

Drive a One Korn Ferry Go-to-Market Strategy

Our synergistic go-to-market strategy, bringing together our core solutions, is driving more integrated, scalable client relationships. This is evidenced by the fact that approximately 70% of our revenues come from clients that utilize multiple lines of our business. Additionally, our Net Promoter Score, a metric used to gauge customer loyalty, has increased by three points compared to last year. To better compete in the market, we will continue to evolve from our traditional line of business segmentation to integrated solutions and industries.

Our Marquee Accounts program is a core pillar of our go-to-market strategy. This program drives major global and regional strategic account development, in addition to providing a framework for all our client development activities as we move our firm to deeper client relationships. Our Marquee Accounts program now comprises 21% of our global fee revenues. In the year ahead, we will continue to grow and expand our account management activities. This includes driving consistent account selection, assignment, planning and execution; implementing account-based marketing efforts; optimizing the pipeline and opportunity process; integrating our best thinking across solutions; and hiring additional dedicated account leaders. We will also expand this successful go-to-market program to the next level of accounts—our Regional Accounts program.

Another pillar of our growth strategy is the Products business. In fiscal 2019, product sales comprised 31% of our Advisory revenue. Our subscription services delivered online help us generate long-term relationships with our clients through large scale and technology-based human resources (“HR”) programs. We continue to seek ways to further scale these highly profitable products to our global clients.

Deliver Client Excellence and Innovation

Technology is positioned to reshape the future of work and with it, the workforce as we know it today. Market innovations contribute to more accurate, faster, cost-effective and impactful business and human decisions. Our firm is well positioned in that context. We have a set of assets that are critical to such decisions: deep science on organization and human motivation, data on talent, work and rewards, and proven products and solutions.

4


We are combining our IP and technology into a unified single platform to allow clients to make faster, better talent decisions. Our IP-driven tools and services are being utilized by our clients for everything from organizational development and job profiling to selection, training, individual and team development, succession planning, M&A, D&I, digital transformation and more.

Enhancements to our Talent Hub platform, including Korn Ferry Listen, Assess, Perform and Pay, will allow us to embed analytics directly into our clients’ user experience, providing actionable insights. In fiscal 2019, we collaborated with experience management (XM) software leader Qualtrics, whereby Korn Ferry is building a global delivery and advisory service to improve employee experience programs at scale.

New Offerings—More than 63,000 consumers have registered and are using Korn Ferry Advance, our new business-to-consumer offering, since it launched in the United States (the “U.S.”) in July 2017. We are expanding and enhancing the offering to provide more focused assistance to people looking to make their next career move, as well as to provide tailored career services to an organization’s people. Korn Ferry Advance will continue to leverage cutting-edge technology as well as the greatest asset we have—our consultants. Korn Ferry Advance is also being used to augment our Korn Ferry Advisory offerings, primarily in Leadership Development and Coaching.

Create the Top-of-Mind Brand in Organizational Consulting

Next to our people, the Korn Ferry brand is the strongest asset of the Company. Positioning Korn Ferry as the preeminent global organizational consultancy and demonstrating our ability to drive business performance through people remains the goal of our global marketing program.

The Korn Ferry brand is brought to market via two distinct channels: business-to-business (“B2B”) and business-to-consumer (“B2C”). In both instances, we communicate key core values about what we do, expressing that we are ‘more than’ as well as inspiring action in the way our customers run their businesses and in the way they approach their careers. We are executing against our strategy with these priorities in mind:

 

One Korn Ferry—We will partner with internal and external stakeholders to advance a differentiated one Korn Ferry story and brand that minimizes operational risks, engages our employees, resonates in the broader market and becomes a platform for differentiation and sustainable growth.

 

Generate Demand—We will assess market trends, liaise with clients, and partner with internal stakeholders to develop a steady cadence of thought leadership-based, campaigns, public relations and demand generation activities that engage clients and prospects in meaningful conversations.

Advance Korn Ferry as a Premier Career Destination

We continue to invest in building a world-class organization that is aligned to our strategy and is staffed by a capable, motivated and agile workforce. A few key initiatives in this area include:

 

Onboarding—In fiscal 2019, we increased our headcount by 1,035. To support this growth, we have launched a standardized, global onboarding experience for all Korn Ferry new hires using a common platform, materials and resources to ensure all new hires are effectively integrated into the Company with reduced ramp-up time to full productivity. We are also taking a programmatic approach to onboarding through our Talent Academy and StartUp early career cohort trainings.

 

Career Paths and Mobility—Under the Korn Ferry enterprise-wide career model, we are defining and will roll out career paths that enable and encourage talent mobility across all areas of our business along with self-directed development. In fiscal 2019, we promoted more than 800 colleagues across our three segments.

 

Talent Development—Our growth plans require a learning, agile organization. To facilitate this, we use a learning management system (iAcademy) to serve as a Center of Excellence focused on the growth and development of our colleagues through rich, personalized content.

 

Mentoring—As our firm continues to expand in size and offerings, our colleagues face increasingly complex client and career issues, all while learning how to work together as One Korn Ferry. The need to connect, collaborate and help each other has never been more pronounced. In the year ahead, we will roll out a firm-wide mentorship program to empower our colleagues to learn, connect and advance. Paired through the Korn Ferry Advance platform, Mentors and Mentees will be matched based on proximity and career goals and focus.

 

Benefits—We are nearing completion of our global benefits harmonization work. We are setting our sights on the next phase of our benefits strategy, which is the modernization and optimization of our benefits programs around the world. We will ensure we have benefits that are culturally relevant, market prevalent and personally impactful. We create balance between cost effectiveness and competitiveness to align with our financial goals and talent strategy.

5


Pursue Transformational Opportunities at the Intersection of Talent and Strategy

We have developed a core competency in identifying, acquiring and integrating M&A targets that have the potential to further our strategic objectives and enhance shareholder value. Our disciplined approach to M&A will continue to play a critical role in the ongoing evolution of Korn Ferry into an industry specialized, business outcomes oriented solutions provider at the intersection of talent and strategy. While we will continue to execute on our targeted organic growth pathways, M&A will be a vital component of our future growth and capital deployment strategies. 

OUR ORGANIZATION

The Company operates through its three global segments: Executive Search, Advisory, and RPO & Professional Search. Our Executive Search business is managed and reported on a geographic basis throughout four regions: North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”), Asia Pacific and Latin America. Advisory and RPO & Professional Search are managed on a global basis with operations in North America, EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

Executive Search

Overview—Korn Ferry helps clients attract and hire leaders who fit with their organization and make it stand out. Our services are typically used to fill executive-level positions, such as board directors, chief executive officers, chief financial officers, chief operating officers, chief information officers, chief human resource officers and other senior executive officers.

Our Executive Search services concentrate on searches for positions with average annual cash compensation of $360,000 or more, or comparable compensation in foreign locations. The industry is comprised of retained and contingency recruitment firms. Retained firms, such as Korn Ferry, typically charge a fee for their services equal to approximately one-third of the first-year annual cash compensation for the position being filled regardless of whether the position is filled. Contingency firms generally work on a non-exclusive basis and are compensated only upon successfully placing a recommended candidate.

As part of being retained by a client to conduct a search, we assemble a team of consultants with appropriate geographic, industry and functional expertise. We utilize a standardized and differentiated approach to placing talent that integrates our research-based IP with our practical experience. Our search consultants serve as management advisors who work closely with the client in identifying, assessing and placing qualified candidates. In fiscal 2019, we executed 6,790 new executive search assignments.

Industry Specialization—Consultants in our six industries bring an in-depth understanding of the market conditions and strategic management issues faced by clients within their specific industries and geographies. We are continually looking to expand our specialized expertise through internal development and strategic hiring in targeted growth areas.

Percentage of Fiscal 2019 Assignments Opened by Industry Specialization

 

Global Industries:

 

 

 

 

Industrial

 

 

31

%

Financial Services

 

 

20

%

Life Sciences/Healthcare Provider

 

 

16

%

Consumer

 

 

15

%

Technology

 

 

13

%

Regional Specialties (United States):

 

 

 

 

Education/Not-for-Profit

 

 

5

%

 

Functional Expertise—We have organized executive search centers of functional expertise, composed of consultants who have extensive backgrounds in placing executives in certain functions, such as board directors, CEOs and other senior executive officers. Our Board & CEO Services group, for example, focuses exclusively on placing CEOs and board directors in organizations around the world. This is a dedicated team from the most senior ranks of the Company. Their work is with CEOs and in the boardroom, and their expertise is organizational leadership and governance. They conduct hundreds of engagements every year, tapping talent from every corner of the globe. This work spans all ranges of organizational scale and purpose. Members of functional groups are located throughout our regions and across our industry groups.

6


Percentage of Fiscal 2019 Assignments Opened by Functional Expertise

 

Board Level/CEO/CFO/Senior Executive and General Management

 

 

71

%

Finance and Control

 

 

9

%

Marketing and Sales

 

 

6

%

Information Systems

 

 

5

%

Manufacturing/Engineering/Research and Development/Technology

 

 

5

%

Human Resources and Administration

 

 

4

%

 

Regions

North America—As of April 30, 2019, we had operations in 19 cities throughout the United States and Canada. In fiscal 2019, the region generated fee revenue of $455.8 million and opened 2,901 new engagements with an average of 256 consultants.

EMEA—As of April 30, 2019, we had operations in 23 cities in 20 countries throughout the region. In fiscal 2019, the region generated fee revenue of $182.8 million and opened 2,011 new engagements with an average of 166 consultants.

Asia Pacific—As of April 30, 2019, we had operations in 18 cities in 10 countries throughout the region. In fiscal 2019, the region generated fee revenue of $104.3 million and opened 1,303 new engagements with an average of 96 consultants.

Latin America—As of April 30, 2019, we had operations in 9 cities in 7 countries covering the entire Latin America region. In fiscal 2019, the region generated fee revenue of $31.9 million and opened 575 new engagements with an average of 36 consultants.

Client Base—Our 3,993 Search engagement clients in fiscal 2019 include many of the world’s largest and most prestigious public and private companies.

Competition—In Executive Search, we compete with other global executive search firms. Although these firms are our largest competitors, we also compete with smaller boutique firms that specialize in specific regional, industry or functional searches. We believe our brand name, differentiated business model, systematic approach to client service, cutting-edge technology, unique IP, global network, prestigious clientele, strong specialty practices and high-caliber colleagues are recognized worldwide. We also believe our long-term incentive compensation arrangements, as well as other executive benefits, distinguish us from most of our competitors and are important in attracting and retaining our key consultants.

Advisory

Overview—Korn Ferry helps clients design their organization—the structure, roles and responsibilities—and shows them the best way to compensate, develop and motivate their people. Our focus is on making change happen and helping people and organizations exceed their potential. Through our talented colleagues, robust solutions and intellectual property, our consultants are able to solve the most disruptive and challenging organizational and talent problems facing clients.

Our Advisory team is comprised of top leadership and organizational advisory consultants and thought leaders, working in 85 cities in 49 countries. Our consultants are predominately recruited from local markets, so they are sensitive to local issues, but work together in global teams, resulting in larger opportunities with greater client and commercial impact.

We are an advisory leader and many of the world’s most admired organizations choose to partner with us because of our track record delivering successful outcomes, our ability to listen, and our focus on putting our clients first. We accomplish this through a combination of solution, consulting and other products that address how people work and show how to nurture them so that their strategies succeed. We capitalize on the breadth of our IP, service offerings and expertise to do what is right for the client—transforming ideas into actionable insights. Clients can depend on our products and platforms to be data backed, market tested and agile.

Korn Ferry is known for creating and owning one of the richest and most comprehensive people and pay data sets in the world, including the most widely used job evaluation methodology. We have helped clients assess and develop hundreds of thousands of managers and executives. In addition, we have built a database of organizational management information that enables our clients to benchmark themselves against the best performers in their industries on any multitude of dimensions.

7


Within Advisory, we offer the following core go-to-market solutions:

Organizational Strategy: We provide end-to-end support to organizations that want to transform their business. Strategy becomes operationalized by aligning the tangible elements of the organization—people, structure and process—and the intangible elements—motivations, relationships and culture.

Assessment and Succession: We provide actionable, research-backed insight and products that allow organizations to understand the talent they have, benchmarked against the talent they need to deliver on the business strategy, and we help them close any gaps.

Leadership Development: We develop leaders at every stage of the leadership journey, from first time manager to CEO, with a spectrum of high-touch and high-tech leadership development experiences that are tightly aligned with succession and talent processes. Our solutions are backed by tools and techniques that are delivered by hundreds of dedicated leadership development experts across the globe.

Rewards and Benefits: We help organizations design rewards to achieve their strategic objectives, to pay their people fairly for doing the right things—with rewards they value—at a cost the organization can afford. Our advice is backed by the quality and quantity of our pay data and widely used job evaluation methodology.

These solutions are often bundled into integrated market offerings (e.g., Digital Transformation, M&A) that integrate our best thinking across our solutions, enabling us to develop innovative and differentiated approaches to our clients’ most pressing business challenges.

These solutions are also enhanced, enabled and optimized through various products, allowing clients to resolve people challenges consistently and cost effectively. Some are delivered by our accredited experts; others through our powerful digital tools.

Consulting fee revenue was $568.3 million, $540.5 million and $497.7 million in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. This represented 30%, 31% and 32% of the Company’s total fee revenue in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Products fee revenue was $252.7 million, $244.5 million and $226.5 million in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Regions—As of April 30, 2019, we had Advisory operations in 23 cities in North America, 33 in EMEA, 20 in Asia Pacific, and 9 in Latin America.

Client Base—During fiscal 2019, the Advisory segment partnered with approximately 10,000 clients across the globe and 15% of Advisory’s fiscal 2019 fee revenue was referred from Korn Ferry’s Executive Search and RPO & Professional Search segments. Our clients come from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, across every major industry and represent diverse business challenges.

Competition—The people and organizational consulting market is extremely competitive, as companies are increasingly seeking ways to synchronize their strategy and talent to drive superior business performance. Our competitors include consulting organizations affiliated with accounting, insurance, information systems, executive search and staffing firms, as well as strategy consulting firms. Although these firms are our largest competitors, we also compete with smaller boutique firms that specialize in specific regional, industry or functional aspects of leadership and HR consulting.

Successful strategy implementation is 90% about execution, and successful execution is 90% about getting the people, organization and cultural aspects right. This is where we have an edge over our competition. We focus on making change happen. In a world of constant disruption, it is critical that we build our clients’ capability to keep on changing—embedding it into every consulting project.

We also believe our products and IP, utilized every day and embedded into the core business processes of the world’s most admired companies, are a major competitive differentiator.

RPO & Professional Search

Overview—Korn Ferry combines people, process expertise and IP enabled technology to deliver enterprise talent acquisition solutions to our clients. Our recruiting solutions have breadth, including all functional talent segments—IT, Marketing, R&D, Commercial Sales, HR, Supply Chain, Finance and Legal. We also have depth, with the ability to deliver transaction sizes ranging from single professional searches to team, department and line of business projects, and enterprise global professional recruiting solutions. Our global capabilities deliver 1-10,000 or more new hires to address our clients’ employment needs.

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RPO: In fiscal 2019, Korn Ferry was recognized as a top five RPO provider in the Baker’s Dozen list, marking our 12th consecutive year on the list. Through decades of experience, we have enhanced our RPO solution to deliver quality candidates that drive our clients’ business strategies. We leverage proprietary IP and data sets to guide clients on the critical skills and competencies to look for, compensation Information to align with market demand, and assessment tools to ensure candidate fit.

We combine traditional recruitment expertise with a multi-tiered portfolio of talent acquisition solutions. Consultants, based in 30 countries, have access to our databases of pre-screened, mid-level professionals. Our global candidate pool complements our international presence and multi-channel sourcing strategy to provide speed, efficiency and quality service for clients worldwide.

Project Recruitment: We are able to deliver the same talent acquisition services as we would in an end-to-end RPO solution, but within a defined project start and end date. Our Project Recruitment solution is seamless and aligned with the client’s broader talent acquisition strategy. Clients enjoy the same benefits around reduced time to hire, reduced cost per hire and improved candidate quality that they would with a full RPO solution, but via an on-demand model to manage short-term or specialized needs.

Professional Search: We are positioned to help organizations identify and attract professionals at the middle to upper levels of management in single-search engagements. We focus on:

 

INDUSTRIES:

Consumer

FUNCTIONAL EXPERTISE:

Finance & Accounting

Financial Services

Human Resources

Industrial

Information Technology

Life Sciences/Healthcare

Sales, Marketing & Digital

Technology

Supply Chain Management

Education/Not-for-Profit

 

 

Our innovative search process mirrors our Executive Search solution, offering access to active and passive candidate pools, the industry’s richest data on salaries and employee engagement, and proprietary tools such as Four Dimensional Executive Assessment and Executive Snapshot. A wealth of assessment data defines the traits needed for success in each role we recruit and matches candidates against best-in-class profiles while also gauging cultural fit.

Regions—As of April 30, 2019, we had RPO & Professional Search operations in 13 cities in North America, 13 in EMEA, 18 in Asia Pacific, and 9 in Latin America.

Client Base—During fiscal 2019, the RPO & Professional Search segment partnered with 2,093 clients across the globe and 44% of RPO & Professional Search’s fiscal 2019 fee revenue was referred from Korn Ferry’s Executive Search and Advisory segments.

Competition—We primarily compete for RPO business with other global RPO providers and compete for search assignments with regional contingency recruitment firms and large national retained recruitment firms. We believe our competitive advantage is distinct. We are strategic, working with clients to hire best-fit candidates using our assessment IP, proprietary technology and professional recruiters. We also work under the One Korn Ferry umbrella to help clients plan for their broader talent acquisition needs as part of their business strategy planning.

Professional Staff and Employees

We have assembled a wealth of talent that is rewarded based on performance. Our Company brings together a wide range of disciplines and professions—everything from academic research and technology development to executive recruiting, consulting, and business leadership. We are also a culturally diverse organization. Our people come from all over the world and speak a multitude of languages. For us, this diversity is a key source of strength. It means we have people who are able to challenge convention, offer unique perspectives, and generate innovative ideas. Equally important, it means we can think and act globally—just like our clients.

As of April 30, 2019, we had a total of 8,678 full-time employees. Of this, 1,960 were Executive Search employees consisting of 565 consultants and 1,395 associates, researchers, administrative and support staff. Our Advisory segment had 3,603 employees as of April 30, 2019, consisting of 579 consultants and 3,024 associates, researchers, administrative and support staff. Our RPO & Professional Search segment had 2,942 employees as of April 30, 2019, consisting of 304 consultants and 2,638 administrative and support staff. Corporate had 173 professionals as of April 30, 2019. We are not party to a collective bargaining agreement and consider our relations with our employees to be good. Korn Ferry is an equal opportunity employer.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

The risks described below are the material risks facing our Company. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also impair our business operations. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks.

Competition in our industries could result in our losing market share and/or require us to charge lower prices for services, which could reduce our revenue.

While we are continuing to evolve to One Korn Ferry integrated approach in an effort to better compete in the market, we continue to face significant competition to each of our services offerings. The human resource consulting market has been traditionally fragmented and a number of large consulting firms, such as Ernst & Young, McKinsey, Willis Towers Watson and Deloitte are building businesses in human resource management consulting to serve these needs. Our advisory business line continues to face competition from human resource consulting businesses. Many of these competitors are significantly larger than Korn Ferry and have considerable resources at their disposal, allowing for potentially significant investment to grow their human resource consulting business. Increased competition, whether as a result of professional and social networking website providers, traditional executive search firms, sole proprietors and in-house human resource professionals (as noted above) or larger consulting firms building human resources consulting businesses, may lead to pricing pressures that could negatively impact our business. For example, increased competition could require us to charge lower prices, and/or cause us to lose market share, each of which could reduce our fee revenue.

Our executive search services face competition from both traditional and non-traditional competitors that provide job placement services, including other large global executive search firms, smaller specialty firms and web-based firms. In recent years, we have also begun facing increased competition from sole proprietors and in-house human resource professionals whose ability to provide job placement services has been enhanced by professional profiles made available on the internet and enhanced social media-based search tools. The continued growth of the shared economy and related freelancing platform sites may also negatively impact demand for our services by allowing employers seeking services to connect with employees in real time and without any significant cost. Traditional executive search competitors include Egon Zehnder, Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., Russell Reynolds Associates and Spencer Stuart. In each of our markets, one or more of our competitors may possess greater resources, greater name recognition, lower overhead or other costs and longer operating histories than we do, which may give them an advantage in obtaining future clients, capitalizing on new technology and attracting qualified professionals in these markets. Additionally, specialty firms can focus on regional or functional markets or on particular industries and executive search firms that have a smaller client base may be subject to fewer off-limits arrangements. There are no extensive barriers to entry into the executive search industry and new recruiting firms continue to enter the market.

We believe the continuing development and increased availability of information technology will continue to attract new competitors, especially web-enabled professional and social networking website providers, and these providers may be facilitating a company’s ability to insource their recruiting capabilities. Competitors in these fields include SmashFly, iCIMS, Yello, Indeed, Google for Jobs and Jobvite. As these providers continue to evolve, they may develop offerings similar to or more expansive than ours, thereby increasing competition for our services or more broadly causing disruption in the executive search industry. Further, as technology continues to develop and the shared economy continues to grow, we expect that the use of freelancing platform sites will become more prevalent. As a result, companies may turn to such sites for their talent needs, which could negatively impact demand for the services we offer.

Our RPO & Professional Search services primarily competes for business with other RPO providers such as Cielo, Alexander Mann Solutions, Kenexa, Spherion, and Kelly Services, and competes for mid-level professional search assignments with regional contingency recruitment firms and large national retained recruitment firms. In addition, some organizations have developed or may develop internal solutions to address talent acquisition that may be competitive with our solutions. This is a highly competitive and developing industry with numerous specialists. To compete successfully and achieve our growth targets for our talent acquisition business, we must continue to support and develop assessment and analytics solutions, maintain and grow our proprietary database, deliver demonstrable return on investment to clients, support our products and services globally, and continue to provide consulting and training to support our assessment products. Our failure to compete effectively with our competitors could adversely affect our operating results and future growth.

Consolidation in the industries that we serve could harm our business.

Companies in the industries that we serve may seek to achieve economies of scale and other synergies by combining with or acquiring other companies. If two or more of our clients merge or consolidate and combine their operations, we may experience a decrease in the amount of services we perform for these clients. If one of our clients merges or consolidates with a company that relies on another provider for its services, we may lose work from

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that client or lose the opportunity to gain additional work. The increased market power of larger companies could also increase pricing and competitive pressures on us. Any of these possible results of industry consolidation could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.

If we fail to attract and retain qualified and experienced consultants, our revenue could decline and our business could be harmed.

We compete with other executive and professional search and consulting firms for qualified and experienced consultants. These other firms may be able to offer greater compensation and benefits or more attractive lifestyle choices, career paths or geographic locations than we do. Attracting and retaining consultants in our industry is particularly important because, generally, a small number of consultants have primary responsibility for a client relationship. Because client responsibility is so concentrated, the loss of key consultants may lead to the loss of client relationships. In fiscal 2019, for example, our top three Executive Search and Advisory consultants had primary responsibility for generating business equal to approximately 1% and 2% of our fee revenues, respectively, and our top ten Executive Search and Advisory consultants had primary responsibility for generating business equal to approximately 2% and 5% of our fee revenues, respectively. This risk is heightened due to the general portability of a consultant’s business: consultants have in the past, and will in the future, terminate their employment with our Company. Any decrease in the quality of our reputation, reduction in our compensation levels relative to our peers or restructuring of our compensation program, whether as a result of insufficient revenue, a decline in the market price of our common stock or for any other reason, could impair our ability to retain existing consultants or attract additional qualified consultants with the requisite experience, skills and established client relationships. Our failure to retain our most productive consultants, whether in Executive Search, Advisory or RPO & Professional Search, or maintain the quality of service to which our clients are accustomed, as well as the ability of a departing consultant to move business to his or her new employer, could result in a loss of clients, which could in turn cause our fee revenue to decline and our business to be harmed. We may also lose clients if the departing Executive Search, Advisory or RPO & Professional Search consultant has widespread name recognition or a reputation as a specialist in his or her line of business in a specific industry or management function. We could also lose additional consultants if they choose to join the departing Executive Search, Advisory or RPO & Professional Search consultant at another executive search or consulting firm. If we fail to limit departing consultants from moving business or recruiting our consultants to a competitor, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

We may be limited in our ability to recruit candidates from our clients, and we could lose search opportunities to our competition, which could harm our business.

Either by agreement with clients, or for client relations or marketing purposes, we sometimes refrain from, for a specified period of time, recruiting candidates from a client when conducting searches on behalf of other clients. These off-limit agreements can generally remain in effect for up to two years following the completion of an assignment. The duration and scope of the off-limit agreement, including whether it covers all operations of the client and its affiliates or only certain divisions of a client, generally are subject to negotiation or internal policies and may depend on factors such as the scope, size and complexity of the client’s business, the length of the client relationship and the frequency with which we have been engaged to perform executive and professional searches for the client. If a prospective client believes that we are overly restricted by these off-limit agreements from recruiting employees of our existing clients, these prospective clients may not engage us to perform their executive searches. Therefore, our inability to recruit candidates from these clients may make it difficult for us to obtain search assignments from, or to fulfill search assignments for, other companies in that client’s industry. We cannot ensure that off-limit agreements will not impede our growth or our ability to attract and serve new clients, or otherwise harm our business.

We incur substantial costs to hire and retain our professionals, and we expect these costs to continue and to grow.

Our success depends on attracting and retaining professional employees. To attract and retain such employees in a competitive marketplace, we must provide a competitive compensation package. As such, we may pay hiring bonuses and annual retention bonuses to secure the services of new hires and retain our professional employees. Such payments have taken the form of long-term deferred compensation, restricted stock, and unsecured cash payments in the form of promissory notes. The aggregate amount of these awards to employees is significant and as competition in our industry intensifies, we expect to continue issuing these types of long-term incentive awards. If the national or global economy and/or labor markets were to deteriorate in the future, such changes would put negative pressure on demand for our services, thereby negatively affecting our generation of future revenues, but we would continue to incur the cost of these long-term awards, resulting in lower results of operations.

If we are unable to retain our executive officers and key personnel or integrate new members of our senior management who are critical to our business, we may not be able to successfully manage our business in the future.

Our future success depends upon the continued service of our executive officers and other key management personnel. Competition for qualified personnel is intense, and we may compete with other companies that have greater financial and other resources than we do. If we lose the services of one or more of our executives or key

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employees, or if one or more of them decides to join a competitor or otherwise compete directly or indirectly with us, or if we are unable to integrate new members of our senior management who are critical to our business, we may not be able to successfully manage our business or achieve our business objectives.

If we are unable to maintain our professional reputation and brand name, our business will be harmed.

We depend on our overall reputation and brand name recognition to secure new engagements and to hire qualified professionals. Our success also depends on the individual reputations of our professionals. We obtain a majority of our new engagements from existing clients or from referrals by those clients. Any client who is dissatisfied with our services can adversely affect our ability to secure new engagements.

If any factor, including poor performance or negative publicity, whether or not true, hurts our reputation, we may experience difficulties in competing successfully for both new engagements and qualified consultants. Failing to maintain our professional reputation and the goodwill associated with our brand name could seriously harm our business.

As we develop new services, clients and practices, enter new lines of business, and focus more of our business on providing a full range of client solutions, the demands on our business and our operating risks may increase.

As part of our corporate strategy, we are attempting to leverage our research and advisory services to sell a full range of services across the life cycle of a policy, program, project or initiative, and we are regularly searching for ways to provide new services to clients. This strategy, even if effectively executed, may prove insufficient in light of changes in market conditions, technology, competitive pressures or other external factors. In addition, we plan to extend our services to new clients, into new lines of business, and into new geographic locations. As we focus on developing new services, clients, practice areas and lines of business; open new offices; and engage in business in new geographic locations, our operations may be exposed to additional as well as enhanced risks.

In particular, our growth efforts place substantial additional demands on our management and staff, as well as on our information, financial, administrative and operational systems. We may not be able to manage these demands successfully. Growth may require increased recruiting efforts, opening new offices, increased business development, selling, marketing and other actions that are expensive and entail increased risk. We may need to invest more in our people and systems, controls, compliance efforts, policies and procedures than we anticipate. Therefore, even if we do grow, the demands on our people and systems, controls, compliance efforts, policies and procedures may exceed the benefits of such growth, and our operating results may suffer, at least in the short-term, and perhaps in the long-term.

Efforts involving a different focus, new services, new clients, new practice areas, new lines of business, new offices and new geographic locations entail inherent risks associated with our inexperience and competition from mature participants in those areas. Our inexperience may result in costly decisions that could harm our profit and operating results. In particular, new or improved services often relate to the development, implementation and improvement of critical infrastructure or operating systems that our clients may view as “mission critical,” and if we fail to satisfy the needs of our clients in providing these services, our clients could incur significant costs and losses for which they could seek compensation from us. As our business continues to evolve and we provide a wider range of services, we will become increasingly dependent upon our employees, particularly those operating in business environments less familiar to us. Failure to identify, hire, train and retain talented employees who share our values could have a negative effect on our reputation and our business. Finally, even if effectively executed, our strategy may prove insufficient in light of changes in market conditions, technology competitive pressures or other external factors.

Our rebranding plan may take a significant amount of time, involve substantial costs and may not be favorably received by our clients.

On June 12, 2018, the Company’s Board of Directors approved a rebranding Plan for the Company. This Plan includes going to market under a single, master brand architecture, solely as Korn Ferry, and sunsetting of all the Company’s sub-brands, including Futurestep, Hay Group and Lominger, among others. The Company is harmonizing under one brand to help accelerate the firm’s positioning as the preeminent organizational consultancy and bring more client awareness to its broad range of talent management solutions

We may incur substantial costs as a result of rebranding our products and services and may not be able to achieve or maintain brand name recognition or status that is comparable to the recognition and status previously enjoyed by certain of our sub-brands. The failure of our rebranding initiatives could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain clients, which could cause us not to realize some or all of the anticipated benefits contemplated by the rebranding.

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We are subject to potential legal liability from clients, employees, candidates for employment, stockholders and others. Insurance coverage may not be available to cover all of our potential liability and available coverage may not be sufficient to cover all claims that we may incur.

We are exposed to potential claims with respect to the executive search process and the consulting services performed by Advisory. For example, a client could assert a claim for matters such as breach of an off-limit agreement or recommending a candidate who subsequently proves to be unsuitable for the position filled. Further, the current employer of a candidate whom we placed could file a claim against us alleging interference with an employment contract; a candidate could assert an action against us for failure to maintain the confidentiality of the candidate’s employment search; and a candidate or employee could assert an action against us for alleged discrimination, violations of labor and employment law or other matters. Also, in various countries, we are subject to data protection laws impacting the processing of candidate information and other regulatory requirements that could give rise to liabilities/claims. Client dissatisfaction with the consulting services provided by our Advisory consultants may also lead to claims against us.

Additionally, as part of our Advisory services, we often send a team of leadership consultants to our clients’ workplaces. Such consultants generally have access to client information systems and confidential information. An inherent risk of such activity includes possible claims of misuse or misappropriation of client IP, confidential information, funds or other property, as well as harassment, criminal activity, torts, or other claims. Such claims may result in negative publicity, injunctive relief, criminal investigations and/or charges, payment by us of monetary damages or fines, or other material adverse effects on our business.

From time to time, we may also be subject to legal actions or claims brought by our stockholders, including securities, derivative and class actions, for a variety of matters related to our operations, such as significant business transactions, cybersecurity incidents, volatility in our stock, and our responses to stockholder activism, among others. Such actions or claims and their resolution may result in defense costs, as well as settlements, fines or judgments against us, some of which are not, or cannot be, covered by insurance. The payment of any such costs, settlements, fines or judgments that are not insured could have a material adverse effect on our business. In addition, such matters may affect the availability or cost of some of our insurance coverage, which could adversely impact our results of operations and expose us to increased risks that would be uninsured.

We cannot ensure that our insurance will cover all claims or that insurance coverage will be available at economically acceptable rates. Our ability to obtain insurance, its coverage levels, deductibles and premiums, are all dependent on market factors, our loss history and insurers’ perception of our overall risk profile. Our insurance may also require us to meet a deductible. Significant uninsured liabilities could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We may not be able to align our cost structure with our revenue level, which in turn may require additional financing in the future that may not be available at all or may be available only on unfavorable terms.

We continuously evaluate our cost base in relation to projected near to mid-term demand for our services in an effort to align our cost structure with the current realities of our markets. If actual or projected fee revenues are negatively impacted by weakening customer demand, we may find it necessary to take cost cutting measures so that we can minimize the impact on our profitability. There is, however, no guarantee that if we do take such measures that such measures will properly align our cost structure to our revenue level. Any failure to maintain a balance between our cost structure and our revenue could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations and lead to negative cash flows, which in turn might require us to obtain additional financing to meet our capital needs. If we are unable to secure such additional financing on favorable terms, or at all, our ability to fund our operations could be impaired, which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.

Our financial results could suffer if we are unable to achieve or maintain adequate utilization and suitable billing rates for our consultants.

Our profitability depends, to a large extent, on the utilization and billing rates of our professionals. Utilization of our professionals is affected by a number of factors, including:

 

the number and size of client engagements;

 

the timing of the commencement, completion and termination of engagements (for example, the commencement or termination of multiple RPO engagements could have a significant impact on our business, including significant fluctuations in our fee revenue, since these types of engagements are generally larger, in terms of both staffing and fee revenue generated, than our other engagements);

 

our ability to transition our consultants efficiently from completed engagements to new engagements;

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the hiring of additional consultants because there is generally a transition period for new consultants that results in a temporary drop in our utilization rate;

 

unanticipated changes in the scope of client engagements;

 

our ability to forecast demand for our services and thereby maintain an appropriate level of consultants; and

 

conditions affecting the industries in which we practice as well as general economic conditions.

The billing rates of our consultants that we are able to charge are also affected by a number of factors, including:

 

our clients’ perception of our ability to add value through our services;

 

the market demand for the services we provide;

 

an increase in the number of clients in the government sector in the industries we serve;

 

the introduction of new services by us or our competitors;

 

our competition and the pricing policies of our competitors; and

 

current economic conditions.

If we are unable to achieve and maintain adequate overall utilization, as well as maintain or increase the billing rates for our consultants, our financial results could materially suffer. In addition, our consultants oftentimes perform services at the physical locations of our clients. If there are natural disasters, disruptions to travel and transportation or problems with communications systems, our ability to perform services for, and interact with, our clients at their physical locations may be negatively impacted, which could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.

The profitability of our fixed-fee engagements with clients may not meet our expectations if we underestimate the cost of these engagements when pricing them.

When making proposals for fixed-fee engagements, we estimate the costs and timing for completing the engagements. These estimates reflect our best judgment regarding the efficiencies of our methodologies and consultants as we plan to deploy them on engagements. Any increased or unexpected costs or unanticipated delays in connection with the performance of fixed-fee engagements, including delays caused by factors outside our control, could make these contracts less profitable or unprofitable, which would have an adverse effect on our profit margin. For the years ended April 30, 2019, 2018, and 2017, fixed-fee engagements represented 27%, 28%, and 29% of our revenues, respectively.

Changes in our accounting estimates and assumptions could negatively affect our financial position and results of operations.

We prepare our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). These accounting principles require us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of our financial statements. We are also required to make certain judgments that affect the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during each reporting period. We periodically evaluate our estimates and assumptions including those relating to revenue recognition, restructuring, deferred compensation, goodwill and other intangible assets, contingent consideration, annual performance-related bonuses, allowance for doubtful accounts, share-based payments and deferred income taxes. Actual results could differ from the estimates we make based on historical experience and various assumptions believed to be reasonable based on specific circumstances, and changes in accounting standards could have an adverse impact on our future financial position and results of operations.

Foreign currency exchange rate risks may adversely affect our results of operations.

A material portion of our revenue and expenses are generated by our operations in foreign countries, and we expect that our foreign operations will account for a material portion of our revenue and expenses in the future. Most of our international expenses and revenue are denominated in foreign currencies. As a result, our financial results could be affected by changes in foreign currency exchange rates or weak economic conditions in foreign markets in which we have operations, among other factors. Fluctuations in the value of those currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar have caused and will continue to cause dollar-translated amounts to vary from one period to another. Given the volatility of exchange rates, we may not be able to manage effectively our currency translation or transaction risks, which may adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.

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Unfavorable tax laws, tax law changes and tax authority rulings may adversely affect results.

We are subject to income taxes in the U.S. and in various foreign jurisdictions. Domestic and international tax liabilities are subject to the allocation of income among various tax jurisdictions. Our effective tax rate could be adversely affected by changes in the mix of earnings among countries with differing statutory tax rates or changes in tax laws. The amount of income taxes and other taxes are subject to ongoing audits by U.S. federal, state and local tax authorities and by non-U.S. authorities. If these audits result in assessments different from estimated amounts recorded, future financial results may include unfavorable tax adjustments.

Future changes in tax laws, treaties or regulations, and their interpretations or enforcement, may be unpredictable, particularly as taxing jurisdictions face an increasing number of political, budgetary and other fiscal challenges. Tax rates in the jurisdictions in which we operate may change as a result of macroeconomic and other factors outside of our control, making it increasingly difficult for multinational corporations like ourselves to operate with certainty about taxation in many jurisdictions. As a result, we could be materially adversely affected by future changes in tax law or policy (or in their interpretation or enforcement) in the jurisdictions where we operate, including the United States, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, results of operations, financial condition, as well as our effective income tax rate.

Technical guidance on a broad range of topics related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could have a material impact on our business and our company.

On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) was enacted into law, making significant changes to the taxation of U.S. business entities. The most significant impacts of the Tax Act on the Company include (1) a reduction in the U.S. corporate federal statutory income tax rate from 35.0% to 21.0% effective January 1, 2018, and (2) a one-time tax on accumulated foreign earnings (the “Transition Tax”), which is applicable at a rate of 15.5% on cash and other specified assets and 8% on other residual earnings. We finalized our computation of the Transition Tax and remeasurement of deferred tax balances in accordance with our current understanding of the Tax Act and currently available guidance. For additional information regarding the Tax Act and the tax amounts recorded in our consolidated financial statements, see Note 8—Income Taxes. While our financial statements as of and for the year ended April 30, 2019 reflect the impact due to the Tax Act, further technical guidance on a broad range of topics related to the Tax Act is expected and may have a material adverse effect on our business, cash flow, results from operations, financial condition, as well as our effective income tax rate.

We have deferred tax assets that we may not be able to use under certain circumstances.

If we are unable to generate sufficient future taxable income in certain jurisdictions, or if there is a significant change in the time period within which the underlying temporary differences become taxable or deductible, we could be required to increase our valuation allowances against our deferred tax assets. This would result in an increase in our effective tax rate, and an adverse effect on our future operating results. In addition, changes in statutory tax rates may also change our deferred tax assets or liability balances, with either a favorable or unfavorable impact on our effective tax rate. Our deferred tax assets may also be impacted by new legislation or regulation.

Our indebtedness could impair our financial condition and reduce funds available to us for other purposes and our failure to comply with the covenants contained in our debt instruments could result in an event of default that could adversely affect our operations and financial condition.

On December 19, 2018, the Company entered into a senior secured $650.0 million Amended and Restated Credit Agreement with a syndicate of banks. As of April 30, 2019, $226.9 million was outstanding under the revolving loan.

If we do not generate sufficient cash flow from operations to satisfy our debt obligations, we may have to undertake alternative financing plans. We cannot ensure that we will be able to refinance our debt or enter into alternative financing plans in adequate amounts on commercially reasonable terms, terms acceptable to us or at all, or that such plans guarantee that we would be able to meet our debt obligations.

Our existing debt agreements contain financial and restrictive covenants that limit the total amount of debt that we may incur and may limit our ability to engage in other activities that we may believe are in our long-term best interests, including the disposition or acquisition of assets or other companies or the payment of dividends to our stockholders. Our failure to comply with these covenants may result in an event of default, which, if not cured or waived, could accelerate the maturity of our indebtedness or prevent us from accessing additional funds under our revolving credit facility. If the maturity of our indebtedness is accelerated, we may not have sufficient cash resources to satisfy our debt obligations, and we may not be able to continue our operations as planned.

The expansion of social media platforms presents new risks and challenges that can cause damage to our brand and reputation.

There has been a marked increase in the use of social media platforms, including weblogs (or blogs), social media websites and other forms of Internet-based communications, which allow individuals access to a broad audience of

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consumers and other interested persons. The inappropriate and/or unauthorized use of such media vehicles by our clients or employees could increase our costs, cause damage to our brand, lead to litigation or result in information leakage, including the improper collection and/or dissemination of personally identifiable information of candidates and clients. In addition, negative or inaccurate posts or comments about us on any social networking platforms could damage our reputation, brand image and goodwill.

Technological advances may significantly disrupt the labor market and weaken demand for human capital at a rapid rate.

Our success is directly dependent on our customers’ demands for talent. As technology continues to evolve, more tasks currently performed by people may be replaced by automation, robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and other technological advances outside of our control. The human resource industry has been and continues to be impacted by significant technological changes, enabling companies to offer services competitive with ours. Many of those technological changes may (i) reduce demand for our services, (ii) enable the development of competitive products or services, or (iii) enable our current customers to reduce or bypass the use of our services, particularly in lower-skill job categories. Additionally, rapid changes in artificial intelligence and block chain-based technology are increasing the competitiveness landscape. We may not be successful in anticipating or responding to these changes and demand for our services could be further reduced by advanced technologies being deployed by our competitors. The effort to gain technological expertise and develop new technologies in our business may require us to incur significant expenses. In some cases, we depend on key vendors and partners to provide technology and other support. If these third parties fail to perform their obligations or cease to work with us, our ability to execute on our strategic initiatives could be adversely affected.

Limited protection of our intellectual property could harm our business, and we face the risk that our services or products may infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others.

We cannot guarantee that trade secrets, trademark and copyright law protections are adequate to deter misappropriation of our IP (which has become an important part of our business). Existing laws of some countries in which we provide services or products may offer only limited protection of our IP rights. Redressing infringements may consume significant management time and financial resources. Also, we may be unable to detect the unauthorized use of our IP and take the necessary steps to enforce our rights, which may have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations. We cannot be sure that our services and products, or the products of others that we offer to our clients, do not infringe on the IP rights of third parties, and we may have infringement claims asserted against us or our clients. These claims may harm our reputation, result in financial liability and prevent us from offering some services or products.

We have invested in specialized technology and other intellectual property for which we may fail to fully recover our investment, or which may become obsolete.

We have invested in developing specialized technology and IP, including proprietary systems, processes and methodologies, such as Searcher Express and KF Insight, that we believe provide us a competitive advantage in serving our current clients and winning new engagements. Many of our service and product offerings rely on specialized technology or IP that is subject to rapid change, and to the extent that this technology and IP is rendered obsolete and of no further use to us or our clients, our ability to continue offering these services, and grow our revenues, could be adversely affected. There is no assurance that we will be able to develop new, innovative or improved technology or IP or that our technology and IP will effectively compete with the IP developed by our competitors. If we are unable to develop new technology and IP or if our competitors develop better technology or IP, our revenues and results of operations could be adversely affected.

We rely heavily on our information systems and if we lose that technology, or fail to further develop our technology, our business could be harmed.

Our success depends in large part upon our ability to store, retrieve, process, manage and protect substantial amounts of information. To achieve our strategic objectives and to remain competitive, we must continue to develop and enhance our information systems. This may require the acquisition of equipment and software and the development of new proprietary software, either internally or through independent consultants. If we are unable to design, develop, implement and utilize, in a cost-effective manner, information systems that provide the capabilities necessary for us to compete effectively, or for any reason any interruption or loss of our information processing capabilities occurs, this could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. We cannot be sure that our insurance against the effects of a disaster regarding our information technology or our disaster recovery procedures currently in place will continue to be available at reasonable prices, cover all our losses or compensate us for the possible loss of clients occurring during any period that we are unable to provide business services.

We are subject to risk as it relates to software that we license from third parties.

We license software from third parties, much of which is integral to our systems and our business. The licenses are generally terminable if we breach our obligations under the license agreements. If any of these relationships were terminated or if any of these parties were to cease doing business or cease to support the applications we currently

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utilize, we may be forced to spend significant time and money to replace the licensed software. However, we cannot assure you that the necessary replacements will be available on reasonable terms, if at all.

We are increasingly dependent on third parties for the execution of critical functions.

We do not maintain all of our technology infrastructure, and we have outsourced certain other critical applications or business processes to external providers, including cloud-based services. The failure or inability to perform on the part of one or more of these critical suppliers or partners could cause significant disruptions and increased costs. We are also dependent on security measures that some of our third-party vendors and customers are taking to protect their own systems and infrastructures. If our third-party vendors do not maintain adequate security measures, do not require their sub-contractors to maintain adequate security measures, do not perform as anticipated and in accordance with contractual requirements, or become targets of cyber-attacks, we may experience operational difficulties and increased costs, which could materially and adversely affect our business.

Cyber security vulnerabilities and incidents could lead to the improper disclosure of information obtained from our clients, candidates and employees that could result in liability and harm to our reputation.

We use information technology and other computer resources to carry out operational and marketing activities and to maintain our business records. We rely on information technology systems to process, transmit, and store electronic information and to communicate among our locations around the world and with our clients, partners, and employees. The breadth and complexity of this infrastructure increases the potential risk of security breaches which could lead to potential unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

Our systems and networks are vulnerable to computer viruses, malware, worms, hackers and other security issues, including physical and electronic break-ins, router disruption, sabotage or espionage, disruptions from unauthorized access and tampering (including through social engineering such as phishing attacks), impersonation of authorized users and coordinated denial-of-service attacks. For example, in the past we have experienced cyber security incidents resulting from unauthorized access to our systems, which to date have not had a material impact on our business or results of operations; however, there is no assurance that such impacts will not be material in the future.

The continued occurrence of high-profile data breaches against various entities and organizations provides evidence of an external environment that is increasingly hostile to information security. This environment demands that we continuously improve our design and coordination of security controls across our business groups and geographies in order to protect information that we develop or that is obtained from our clients, candidates and employees. Despite these efforts, given the ongoing and increasingly sophisticated attempts to access the information of entities, our security controls over this information, our training of employees, and other practices we follow may not prevent the improper disclosure of such information. Our efforts and the costs incurred to bolster our security against attacks cannot provide absolute assurance that future data breaches will not occur. We depend on our overall reputation and brand name recognition to secure new engagements. Perceptions that we do not adequately protect the privacy of information could inhibit attaining new engagements, qualified consultants and could potentially damage currently existing client relationships.

Data security, data privacy and data protection laws, such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), and other evolving regulations and cross-border data transfer restrictions, may limit the use of our services, increase our costs and adversely affect our business.

We are subject to numerous U.S. and foreign jurisdiction laws and regulations designed to protect client, colleague, supplier and company data, such as the GDPR, which became effective in May 2018, and requires companies to meet stringent requirements regarding the handling of personal data, including its use, protection and transfer and the ability of persons whose data is stored to correct or delete such data about themselves. Complying with the enhanced obligations imposed by the GDPR has resulted and may continue to result in additional costs to our business and has required and may further require us to amend certain of our business practices. Failure to meet the GDPR requirements could result in significant penalties, including fines up to 4% of annual worldwide revenue. The GDPR also confers a private right of action on certain individuals and associations.

Laws and regulations in this area are evolving and generally becoming more stringent. For example, the New York State Department of Financial Services has issued cybersecurity regulations that outline a variety of required security measures for protection of data. Other U.S. states, including California and South Carolina, have also recently enacted cybersecurity laws requiring certain security measures of regulated entities that are broadly similar to GDPR requirements, and we expect that other states will continue to do so. As these laws continue to evolve, we may be required to make changes to our services, solutions and/or products so as to enable the Company and/or our clients to meet the new legal requirements, including by taking on more onerous obligations in our contracts, limiting our storage, transfer and processing of data and, in some cases, limiting our service and/or solution offerings in certain locations. Changes in these laws, or the interpretation and application thereof, may also increase our potential exposure through significantly higher potential penalties for non-compliance. The costs of compliance with, and other burdens imposed by, such laws and regulations and client demand in this area may limit the use of, or demand for, our services, solutions and/or products, make it more difficult and costly to meet client expectations, or lead to significant fines, penalties or liabilities for noncompliance, any of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.

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In addition, due to the uncertainty and potentially conflicting interpretations of these laws, it is possible that such laws and regulations may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another and may conflict with other rules or our practices. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with applicable laws or satisfactorily protect personal information could result in governmental enforcement actions, litigation, or negative publicity, any of which could inhibit sales of our services, solutions and/or products.

Further, enforcement actions and investigations by regulatory authorities related to data security incidents and privacy violations continue to increase. It is possible that future enactment of more restrictive laws, rules or regulations and/or future enforcement actions or investigations could have an adverse impact on us through increased costs or restrictions on our businesses and noncompliance could result in regulatory penalties and significant legal liability.

Acquisitions, or our inability to effect acquisitions, may have an adverse effect on our business.

We have completed several strategic acquisitions of businesses in the last several years, including our acquisition of Hay Group in fiscal 2016. Targeted acquisitions have been part of our growth strategy, and we may in the future selectively acquire businesses that are complementary to our existing service offerings. However, we cannot be certain that we will be able to continue to identify appropriate acquisition candidates or acquire them on satisfactory terms. Our ability to consummate such acquisitions on satisfactory terms will depend on:

 

the extent to which acquisition opportunities become available;

 

our success in bidding for the opportunities that do become available;

 

negotiating terms that we believe are reasonable; and

 

regulatory approval, if required.

Our ability to make strategic acquisitions may also be conditioned on our ability to fund such acquisitions through the incurrence of debt or the issuance of equity. Our credit agreement dated as of December 19, 2018 limits us from consummating acquisitions unless we are in pro forma compliance with our financial covenants, and our pro forma domestic liquidity after giving effect to the acquisition is at least $50.0 million, and certain other conditions are met. If we are required to incur substantial indebtedness in connection with an acquisition, and the results of the acquisition are not favorable, the increased indebtedness could decrease the value of our equity. In addition, if we need to issue additional equity to consummate an acquisition, doing so would cause dilution to existing stockholders.

If we are unable to make strategic acquisitions, or the acquisitions we do make are not on terms favorable to us or not effected in a timely manner, it may impede the growth of our business, which could adversely impact our profitability and our stock price.

We have provisions that make an acquisition of us more difficult and expensive.

Anti-takeover provisions in our Certificate of Incorporation, our Bylaws and under Delaware law make it more difficult and expensive for us to be acquired in a transaction that is not approved by our Board of Directors. Some of the provisions in our Certificate of Incorporation and Bylaws include:

 

limitations on stockholder actions;

 

advance notification requirements for director nominations and actions to be taken at stockholder meetings; and

 

the ability to issue one or more series of preferred stock by action of our Board of Directors.

These provisions could discourage an acquisition attempt or other transaction in which stockholders could receive a premium over the current market price for the common stock.

We may not be able to successfully integrate or realize the expected benefits from our acquisitions.

Our future success may depend in part on our ability to complete the integration of acquisition targets successfully into our operations. The process of integrating an acquired business may subject us to a number of risks, including:

 

diversion of management attention;

 

amortization of intangible assets, adversely affecting our reported results of operations;

 

inability to retain and/or integrate the management, key personnel and other employees of the acquired business;

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inability to properly integrate businesses resulting in operating inefficiencies;

 

inability to establish uniform standards, disclosure controls and procedures, internal control over financial reporting and other systems, procedures and policies in a timely manner;

 

inability to retain the acquired company’s clients;

 

exposure to legal claims for activities of the acquired business prior to acquisition; and

 

incurrence of additional expenses in connection with the integration process.

If our acquisitions are not successfully integrated, our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our professional reputation, could be materially adversely affected.

Further, we cannot assure that acquisitions will result in the financial, operational or other benefits that we anticipate. Some acquisitions may not be immediately accretive to earnings and some expansion may result in significant expenditures.

Businesses we acquire may have liabilities or adverse operating issues which could harm our operating results.

Businesses we acquire may have liabilities or adverse operating issues, or both, that we either fail to discover through due diligence or underestimate prior to the consummation of the acquisition. These liabilities and/or issues may include the acquired business’ failure to comply with, or other violations of, applicable laws, rules or regulations or contractual or other obligations or liabilities. As the successor owner, we may be financially responsible for, and may suffer harm to our reputation or otherwise be adversely affected by, such liabilities and/or issues. An acquired business also may have problems with internal controls over financial reporting, which could in turn cause us to have significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in our own internal controls over financial reporting. These and any other costs, liabilities, issues, and/or disruptions associated with any past or future acquisitions, and the related integration, could harm our operating results.

As a result of our acquisitions, we have substantial amounts of goodwill and intangible assets, and changes in business conditions could cause these assets to become impaired, requiring write-downs that would adversely affect our operating results.

All of our acquisitions have been accounted for as purchases and involved purchase prices well in excess of tangible asset values, resulting in the creation of a significant amount of goodwill and other intangible assets. As of April 30, 2019, goodwill and purchased intangibles accounted for approximately 25% and 4%, respectively, of our total assets. Under U.S. GAAP, we do not amortize goodwill and intangible assets acquired in a purchase business combination that are determined to have indefinite useful lives, but instead review them annually (or more frequently if impairment indicators arise) for impairment. As discussed above, in connection with the Plan, the Company now offers substantially all of the Company’s current products and services using the “Korn Ferry” name, branding and trademarks, and has sunset substantially all sub-brands, including Futurestep, Hay Group and Lominger, among others. The Hay Group and Lominger brands came to the Company through acquisitions and, in connection with the accounting for those acquisitions, $106.6 million of the purchase price was allocated to indefinite lived tradename intangible assets. On June 12, 2018, the Company concluded that as a result of the decision to discontinue the use of such sub-brands in the near term, the Company was required under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles to record in the first quarter of fiscal 2019 a one-time, non-cash intangible asset impairment charge of $106.6 million. The discontinuation of such brands could adversely affect our business. Further, although we have to date determined that none of our other assets have been impaired, future events or changes in circumstances that result in an impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets would have a negative impact on our profitability and operating results.

An impairment in the carrying value of goodwill and other intangible assets could negatively impact our consolidated results of operations and net worth.

Goodwill is initially recorded as the excess of amounts paid over the fair value of net assets acquired. While goodwill is not amortized, it is reviewed for impairment at least annually or more frequently if impairment indicators are present. In assessing the carrying value of goodwill, we make qualitative and quantitative assumptions and estimates about revenues, operating margins, growth rates and discount rates based on our business plans, economic projections, anticipated future cash flows and marketplace data. There are inherent uncertainties related to these factors and management’s judgment in applying these factors. Goodwill valuations have been calculated using an income approach based on the present value of future cash flows of each reporting unit and a market approach. We could be required to evaluate the carrying value of goodwill prior to the annual assessment if we experience

19


unexpected, significant declines in operating results or sustained market capitalization declines. These types of events and the resulting analyses could result in goodwill impairment charges in the future. Impairment charges, such as the impairment charge that we recorded in the first quarter of fiscal 2019 related to the discontinuation of the Hay Group and Lominger brands, could substantially affect our results of operations and net worth in the periods of such charges.

We are a cyclical Company whose performance is tied to local and global economic conditions.

Demand for our services is affected by global economic conditions and the general level of economic activity in the geographic regions and industries in which we operate. When conditions in the global economy, including the credit markets deteriorate, or economic activity slows, many companies hire fewer permanent employees and some companies, as a cost-saving measure, choose to rely on their own human resources departments rather than third-party search firms to find talent, and under these conditions, companies may cut back on human resource initiatives, all of which negatively affects our financial condition and results of operations. We may also experience more competitive pricing pressure during periods of economic decline. If the geopolitical uncertainties result in a reduction in business confidence, if the national or global economy or credit market conditions in general deteriorate, the unemployment rate increases or any changes occur in U.S. trade policy (including any increases in tariffs that result in a trade war), such uncertainty or changes could put negative pressure on demand for our services and our pricing, resulting in lower cash flows and a negative effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, some of our clients may experience reduced access to credit and lower revenues resulting in their inability to meet their payment obligations to us.

We face risks associated with social and political instability, legal requirements and economic conditions in our international operations.

We operate in 52 countries and, during the year ended April 30, 2019, generated 55% of our fee revenue from operations outside of the U.S. We are exposed to the risk of changes in social, political, legal and economic conditions inherent in international operations. Examples of risks inherent in transacting business worldwide that we are exposed to include:

 

uncertainties and instability in economic and market conditions caused by the United Kingdom’s (the “U.K.”) vote to exit the E.U. (“Brexit”);

 

uncertainty regarding how the U.K.’s access to the E.U. Single Market and the wider trading, legal, regulatory and labor environments, especially in the U.K. and E.U., will be impacted by Brexit, including the resulting impact on our business and that of our clients;

 

changes in and compliance with applicable laws and regulatory requirements, including U.S. laws affecting the activities of U.S. companies abroad, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and sanctions programs administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control, and similar foreign laws such as the U.K. Bribery Act, as well as the fact that many countries have legal systems, local laws and trade practices that are unsettled and evolving, and/or commercial laws that are vague and/or inconsistently applied;

 

difficulties in staffing and managing global operations, which could impact our ability to maintain an effective system of internal control;

 

difficulties in building and maintaining a competitive presence in existing and new markets;

 

social, economic and political instability;

 

differences in cultures and business practices;

 

statutory equity requirements;

 

differences in accounting and reporting requirements;

 

repatriation controls; 

 

differences in labor and market conditions;

20


 

potential adverse tax consequences;

 

multiple regulations concerning pay rates, benefits, vacation, statutory holiday pay, workers’ compensation, union membership, termination pay, the termination of employment, and other employment laws; and

 

the introduction of greater uncertainty with respect to trade policies, tariffs, disputes or disruptions, the termination or suspension of treaties, boycotts and government regulation affecting trade between the U.S. and other countries.

We cannot ensure that one or more of these factors will not harm our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the E.U. may adversely impact our operations in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

In fiscal 2019, 10.5% of our fee revenue was recorded in the U.K.  The British government and the E.U. continue to negotiate the terms of the U.K.'s future relationship with the E.U.  While many separation issues have been resolved, significant uncertainty remains. The uncertainties surrounding the timing and terms of the U.K.’s exit and its consequences could adversely impact customer and investor confidence, result in additional market volatility and adversely affect our businesses and results of operations. Completion of a so-called “hard/no-deal Brexit,” whereby the U.K. exits the E.U. with no negotiated market access or agreements on issues such as customs and citizen mobility, would likely cause economic, logistical, and legal disruptions. These impacts, and others that we cannot currently anticipate, could result in delays or reductions in contract awards, canceled contracts, changes in exchange rates, difficulty in recruiting or in gaining permission to employ existing staff, or less favorable payment terms. At this time, we cannot predict the impact that an actual exit from the E.U. will have on our business generally and our UK and European operations more specifically, and no assurance can be given that our operating results, financial condition and prospects would not be adversely impacted by the result.

The interest rates under our Credit Agreement and related interest rate swap may be impacted by the phase-out of the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”).

LIBOR is the basic rate of interest used in lending between banks on the London interbank market and is widely used as a reference for setting the interest rates on loans globally. We generally use LIBOR as a reference rate to calculate interest rates under our credit facility. In 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. It is unclear if LIBOR will cease to exist at that time or if new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established such that it continues to exist after 2021. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, is considering replacing U.S. dollar LIBOR with a new index, the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), calculated using short-term repurchase agreements backed by Treasury securities. Whether or not SOFR, or another alternative reference rate, attains market traction as a LIBOR replacement tool remains in question. If LIBOR ceases to exist, we may need to amend our Credit Agreement and related interest rate swap to replace LIBOR with an agreed upon replacement index, and certain of the interest rates under our Credit Agreement may change. The new rates may not be as favorable to us as those in effect prior to any LIBOR phase-out.

You may not receive the level of dividends provided for in the dividend policy our Board of Directors has adopted or any dividends at all.

We are not obligated to pay dividends on our common stock. Our Board of Directors adopted a dividend policy on December 8, 2014, that reflects an intention to distribute to our stockholders a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per share of common stock. Although the Company paid our first dividend under this program on April 9, 2015 and has declared a quarterly dividend every quarter since the adoption of the dividend policy, the declaration and payment of all future dividends to holders of our common stock are subject to the discretion of our Board of Directors, which may amend, revoke or suspend our dividend policy at any time and for any reason, including earnings, capital requirements, financial conditions and other factors our Board of Directors may deem relevant. The terms of our indebtedness may also restrict us from paying cash dividends on our common stock under certain circumstances. See below “—Our ability to pay dividends will be restricted by agreements governing our debt, including our credit agreement, and by Delaware law.”

Over time, our capital and other cash needs may change significantly from our current needs, which could affect whether we pay dividends and the level of any dividends we may pay in the future. If we were to use borrowings under our credit facility to fund our payment of dividends, we would have less cash and/or borrowing capacity available for future dividends and other purposes, which could negatively affect our financial condition, our results of operations, our liquidity and our ability to maintain and expand our business. Accordingly, you may not receive dividends in the intended amounts, or at all. Any reduction or elimination of dividends may negatively affect the market price of our common stock.

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Our ability to pay dividends will be restricted by agreements governing our debt, including our credit agreement, and by Delaware law.

Our credit agreement restricts our ability to pay dividends. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources,” where we describe the terms of our indebtedness, including provisions limiting our ability to declare and pay dividends. As a result of such restrictions, we may be limited in our ability to pay dividends unless we amend our credit agreement or otherwise obtain a waiver from our lenders. In addition, as a result of general economic conditions, conditions in the lending markets, the results of our business or for any other reason, we may elect or be required to amend or refinance our senior credit facility, at or prior to maturity, or enter into additional agreements for indebtedness. Any such amendment, refinancing or additional agreement may contain covenants which could limit in a significant manner or entirely our ability to pay dividends to you.

Additionally, under the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”), our Board of Directors may not authorize payment of a dividend unless it is either paid out of surplus, as calculated in accordance with the DGCL, or if we do not have a surplus, out of net profits for the fiscal year in which the dividend is declared and/or the preceding fiscal year.

If, as a result of these restrictions, we are required to reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends, a decline in the market price or liquidity, or both, of our common stock could result. This may in turn result in losses by you.

Our dividend policy may limit our ability to pursue growth opportunities.

If we pay dividends at the level currently anticipated under our dividend policy, we may not retain a sufficient amount of cash to finance growth opportunities, meet any large unanticipated liquidity requirements or fund our operations in the event of a significant business downturn. In addition, because a portion of cash available will be distributed to holders of our common stock under our dividend policy, our ability to pursue any material expansion of our business, including through acquisitions, increased capital spending or other increases of our expenditures, will depend more than it otherwise would on our ability to obtain third party financing. We cannot assure you that such financing will be available to us at all, or at an acceptable cost. If we are unable to take timely advantage of growth opportunities, our future financial condition and competitive position may be harmed, which in turn may adversely affect the market price of our common stock.

We may be subject to the actions of activist shareholders.

Our Board of Directors and management team are committed to acting in the best interest of all of our shareholders. We value constructive input from investors and regularly engage in dialogue with our shareholders regarding strategy and performance. Activist shareholders who disagree with the composition of the Board of Directors, our strategy or the way the Company is managed may seek to effect change through various strategies and channels. Responding to shareholder activism can be costly and time-consuming, disrupt our operations, and divert the attention of management and our employees from our strategic initiatives. Activist campaigns can create perceived uncertainties as to our future direction, strategy, or leadership and may result in the loss of potential business opportunities, harm our ability to attract new employees, investors, and customers, and cause our stock price to experience periods of volatility or stagnation.

Our business could be disrupted as a result of actions of certain stockholders.

If any of our stockholders commence a proxy contest, advocate for change, make public statements critical of our performance or business, or engage in other similar activities, then our business could be adversely affected because we may have difficulty attracting and retaining clients due to perceived uncertainties as to our future direction and negative public statements about our business; responding to proxy contests and other similar actions by stockholders is likely to result in us incurring substantial additional costs and significantly divert the attention of management and our employees; and, if individuals are elected to our Board with a specific agenda, the execution of our strategic plan may be disrupted or a new strategic plan altogether may be implemented, which could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Further, any of these matters or any such actions by stockholders may impact and result in volatility of the price of our common stock.

Our inability to successfully recover should we experience a disaster or other business continuity problem could cause material financial loss, loss of human capital, regulatory actions, reputational harm or legal liability.

Should we experience a disaster or other business continuity problem, such as an earthquake, hurricane, terrorist attack, pandemic, security breach, power loss, telecommunications failure or other natural or man-made disaster, our continued success will depend, in part, on the availability of our personnel, our office facilities, and the proper functioning of our computer, telecommunication and other related systems and operations. In such an event, we could experience near-term operational challenges with regard to particular areas of our operations. In particular, our

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ability to recover from any disaster or other business continuity problem will depend on our ability to protect our technology infrastructure against damage from business continuity events that could have a significant disruptive effect on our operations. We could potentially lose client data or experience material adverse interruptions to our operations or delivery of services to our clients in a disaster. A disaster on a significant scale or affecting certain of our key operating areas within or across regions, or our inability to successfully recover should we experience a disaster or other business continuity problem, could materially interrupt our business operations and cause material financial loss, loss of human capital, regulatory actions, reputational harm, damaged client relationships or legal liability.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

Not applicable.

Item 2. Properties

Our corporate office is located in Los Angeles, California. We lease our corporate office and all 104 of our Executive Search, Advisory, and RPO & Professional Search offices located in North America, EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America. As of April 30, 2019, we leased an aggregate of approximately 1.4 million square feet of office space. The leases generally have remaining terms of one to 11 years and contain customary terms and conditions. We believe that our facilities are adequate for our current needs, and we do not anticipate any difficulty replacing such facilities or locating additional facilities to accommodate any future growth.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings

From time to time, we are involved in litigation both as a plaintiff and a defendant, relating to claims arising out of our operations. As of the date of this report, we are not engaged in any legal proceedings that are expected, individually or in the aggregate, to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

Information about our Executive Officers

 

Name

 

Age as of

April

30, 2019

 

 

Position

Gary D. Burnison

 

 

58

 

 

President and Chief Executive Officer

Robert P. Rozek

 

 

58

 

 

Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Corporate Officer

Mark Arian

 

 

58

 

 

Chief Executive Officer, Advisory

Byrne Mulrooney

 

 

58

 

 

Chief Executive Officer, RPO Professional Search & Products

 

Our executive officers serve at the discretion of our Board of Directors. There is no family relationship between any executive officer or director. The following information sets forth the business experience for at least the past five years for each of our executive officers.

Gary D. Burnison has been President and Chief Executive Officer since July 2007. He was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from March 2002 until June 30, 2007, and Chief Operating Officer from November 2003 until June 30, 2007. Prior to joining Korn Ferry, Mr. Burnison was Principal and Chief Financial Officer of Guidance Solutions, a privately held consulting firm, from 1999 to 2001. Prior to that, he served as an executive officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Jefferies and Company, Inc., the principal operating subsidiary of Jefferies Group, Inc. from 1995 to 1999. Earlier, Mr. Burnison was a Partner at KPMG Peat Marwick. Mr. Burnison earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern California.

Robert P. Rozek joined the Company in February 2012 as our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and, in December 2015, also became our Chief Corporate Officer. Prior to joining Korn Ferry, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., a privately held commercial real estate services firm, from June 2008 to February 2012. Prior to joining Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., Mr. Rozek served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a leading global developer of destination properties (integrated resorts) that feature premium accommodations, world-class gaming and entertainment, convention and exhibition facilities and many other amenities, from 2006 to 2008. Prior to that, Mr. Rozek held senior leadership positions at Eastman Kodak, and spent five years as a Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Mr. Rozek is a graduate of Canisius College in New York with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

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Mark Arian joined the Company as Chief Executive Officer of Korn Ferry’s Advisory segment in April 2017. Prior to Korn Ferry, Mr. Arian served as a Managing Principal at Ernst and Young LLP, a multinational professional services firm that provides audit, tax, business risk, technology and security risk services, and human capital services worldwide, from March 2014 until March of 2017. In that capacity, he led the People Advisory Services—Financial Services Sector, and his responsibilities included commercial, people and key account leadership. Between 2008 and 2014, Mr. Arian held various leadership positions at AON and AON Hewitt, a provider of insurance, reinsurance, human capital and management consulting services, serving as an Executive Vice President and leading its strategic Mergers and Acquisitions (“M&A”) and business transformation offering globally. Mr. Arian has also held various leadership positions at Towers Perrin (now Wills Towers Watson) including serving as the Global M&A and Global Change Management leader, and Hewitt Associates, where Mr. Arian built and led the Corporate Restructuring and Change Practice. Mr. Arian is a graduate of Duke University and holds a juris doctorate from Columbia University.

Byrne Mulrooney joined the Company in April 2010 as Chief Executive Officer of RPO & Professional Search. Prior to joining Korn Ferry, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Flynn Transportation Services, a third-party logistics company, from 2007 to 2010. Prior to that, he led Spherion’s workforce solutions business in North America, which provides workforce solutions in professional services and general staffing, including recruitment process outsourcing and managed services, from 2003 to 2007. Mr. Mulrooney held executive positions for almost 20 years at EDS and IBM in client services, sales, marketing and operations. Mr. Mulrooney is a graduate of Villanova University in Pennsylvania. He holds a master’s degree in management from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

24


PART II.

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Common Stock

Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ‘KFY’. On June 21, 2019, the last reported sales price on the New York Stock Exchange for the Company’s common stock, was $40.05 per share and there were approximately 24,047 beneficial stockholders of the Company’s common stock.

Performance Graph

We have presented below a graph comparing the cumulative total stockholder return on the Company’s shares with the cumulative total stockholder return on (1) the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index and (2) a company-established peer group. Cumulative total return for each of the periods shown in the performance graph is measured assuming an initial investment of $100 on April 30, 2014 and the reinvestment of any dividends paid by the Company and any company in the peer group on the date the dividends were paid.

Our peer group is comprised of a broad number of publicly traded companies, which are principally or in significant part involved in either professional staffing or consulting. The peer group is comprised of the following 13 companies: CBIZ, Inc. (CBZ), FTI Consulting, Inc. (FCN), Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (HSII), Huron Consulting Group Inc. (HURN), ICF International, Inc. (ICFI), Insperity, Inc. (NSP), Kelly Services, Inc. (KELYA), Kforce Inc. (KFRC), Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NCI), Resources Connection, Inc. (RECN), Robert Half International, Inc. (RHI), Willis Towers Watson (WLTW) and TrueBlue, Inc. (TBI). We believe this group of professional services firms is reflective of similar sized companies in terms of our market capitalization, revenue or profitability, and therefore provides a more meaningful comparison of stock performance. The returns of each company have been weighted according to their respective stock market capitalization at the beginning of each measurement period for purposes of arriving at a peer group average.

The stock price performance depicted in this graph is not necessarily indicative of future price performance. This graph will not be deemed to be incorporated by reference by any general statement incorporating this Annual Report on Form 10-K into any filing by us under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, except to the extent we specifically incorporate this information by reference and shall not otherwise be deemed soliciting material or deemed filed under the Securities Act of 1933 or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

COMPARISON OF 5 YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN(*)

Among Korn Ferry, the S&P 500 Index, and a Peer Group

 

Copyright© 2019 Standard & Poor's, a division of S&P Global. All rights reserved.

 

(*)

$100 invested on April 30, 2014 in stock or index, including reinvestment of dividends. Fiscal year ended April 30, 2019.

25


Capital Allocation Approach

The Company and its Board of Directors endorse a balanced approach to capital allocation. The Company’s first priority is to invest in growth initiatives, such as the hiring of consultants, the continued development of IP and derivative products and services, and the investment in synergistic accretive M&A transactions that earn a return superior to the Company's cost of capital. Next, the Company’s capital allocation approach contemplates the planned return of a portion of excess capital to stockholders, in the form of a regular quarterly dividend, subject to the factors discussed below under “Dividends” and in more detail in the “Risk Factors” section of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Additionally, the Company considers share repurchases on an opportunistic basis and subject to the terms of our Credit Agreement. See Note 10— Long Term Debt for a description of the Credit Agreement.

Dividends

On December 8, 2014, the Board of Directors adopted a dividend policy, reflecting an intention to distribute to our stockholders a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.10 per share.

The declaration and payment of future dividends under the quarterly dividend policy will be at the discretion of the Board of Directors and will depend upon many factors, including the Company’s earnings, capital requirements, financial conditions, the terms of the Company’s indebtedness and other factors that the Board of Directors may deem to be relevant. The Board of Directors may amend, revoke or suspend the dividend policy at any time and for any reason.

Stock Repurchase Program

On March 6, 2019, the Board of Directors approved an increase in the Company’s stock repurchase program of approximately $200 million, which brings our available capacity to repurchase shares in the open market or privately negotiated transactions to approximately $250 million. Common stock may be repurchased from time to time in open market or privately negotiated transactions at the Company’s discretion subject to market conditions and other factors. During the second quarter of fiscal 2017, the Company began to repurchase shares through this program. The Company repurchased approximately $37.4 million, $33.1 million and $28.8 million of the Company’s common stock during fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Any decision to execute on our stock repurchase program will depend on our earnings, capital requirements, financial condition and other factors considered relevant by our Board of Directors. Our credit agreement permits us to pay dividends to our stockholders and make share repurchases so long as our pro forma leverage ratio is no greater than 3.25 to 1.00, and our pro forma domestic liquidity is at least $50.0 million, including the revolving credit commitment minus amounts outstanding on the revolver, issued letters of credit and swing loans.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The following table summarizes common stock repurchased by us during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019:

 

 

 

Shares

Purchased (1)

 

 

Average

Price Paid

Per Share

 

 

Shares

Purchased

as Part of

Publicly-

Announced

Programs (2)

 

 

Approximate

Dollar Value of

Shares that

May Yet be

Purchased

under the

Programs (2)

February 1, 2019 February 28, 2019

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

 

$50.7 million

March 1, 2019 — March 31, 2019

 

 

3,245

 

 

$

48.66

 

 

 

 

 

$250.7 million

April 1, 2019 — April 30, 2019

 

 

904

 

 

$

46.50

 

 

 

 

 

$250.7 million

Total

 

 

4,149

 

 

$

48.19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1)

Represents withholding of a portion of restricted shares to cover taxes on vested restricted shares.

(2)

On March 6, 2019, our Board of Directors approved an increase to the share repurchase program to an aggregate of $250 million. The shares can be repurchased in open market transactions or privately negotiated transactions at the Company’s discretion. The share repurchase program has no expiration date.

26


Item 6. Selected Financial Data

The following selected financial data are qualified by reference to, and should be read together with, our “Audited Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected statements of income data set forth below for the fiscal years ended April 30, 2019, 2018 and 2017 and the selected balance sheets data as of April 30, 2019 and 2018 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected balance sheets data as of April 30, 2017, 2016 and 2015 and the selected statement of income data set forth below for the fiscal years ended April 30, 2016 and 2015 are derived from audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto which are not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

Year Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

2016 (1)

 

 

2015

 

 

 

(in thousands, except per share data and other operating data)

 

Selected Consolidated Statements of Income Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fee revenue

 

$

1,926,033

 

 

$

1,767,217

 

 

$

1,565,521

 

 

$

1,292,112

 

 

$

1,028,152

 

Reimbursed out-of-pocket engagement expenses

 

 

47,829

 

 

 

52,302

 

 

 

56,148

 

 

 

54,602

 

 

 

37,914

 

Total revenue

 

 

1,973,862

 

 

 

1,819,519

 

 

 

1,621,669

 

 

 

1,346,714

 

 

 

1,066,066

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compensation and benefits

 

 

1,311,240

 

 

 

1,199,057

 

 

 

1,065,659

 

 

 

891,472

 

 

 

685,411

 

General and administrative expenses

 

 

351,991

 

 

 

237,390

 

 

 

226,232

 

 

 

213,018

 

 

 

145,917

 

Reimbursed expenses

 

 

47,829

 

 

 

52,302

 

 

 

56,148

 

 

 

54,602

 

 

 

37,914

 

Cost of services

 

 

75,487

 

 

 

73,658

 

 

 

71,482

 

 

 

59,824

 

 

 

39,692

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

46,489

 

 

 

48,588

 

 

 

47,260

 

 

 

36,220

 

 

 

27,597

 

Restructuring charges, net (2)

 

 

 

 

 

78

 

 

 

34,600

 

 

 

33,013

 

 

 

9,468

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

1,833,036

 

 

 

1,611,073

 

 

 

1,501,381

 

 

 

1,288,149

 

 

 

945,999

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating income

 

 

140,826

 

 

 

208,446

 

 

 

120,288

 

 

 

58,565

 

 

 

120,067

 

Other income (loss), net

 

 

10,094

 

 

 

11,119

 

 

 

10,328

 

 

 

(6,409

)

 

 

4,408

 

Interest expense, net

 

 

(16,891

)

 

 

(13,832

)

 

 

(14,607

)

 

 

(3,394

)

 

 

(4,773

)

Equity in earnings of unconsolidated subsidiaries, net

 

 

311

 

 

 

297

 

 

 

333

 

 

 

1,631

 

 

 

2,181

 

Income tax provision

 

 

29,544

 

 

 

70,133

 

 

 

29,104

 

 

 

18,960

 

 

 

33,526

 

Net income

 

 

104,796

 

 

 

135,897

 

 

 

87,238

 

 

 

31,433

 

 

 

88,357

 

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interest

 

 

(2,145

)

 

 

(2,118

)

 

 

(3,057

)

 

 

(520

)

 

 

 

Net income attributable to Korn Ferry

 

$

102,651

 

 

$

133,779

 

 

$

84,181

 

 

$

30,913

 

 

$

88,357

 

Basic earnings per share

 

$

1.84

 

 

$

2.39

 

 

$

1.48

 

 

$

0.58

 

 

$

1.78

 

Diluted earnings per share

 

$

1.81

 

 

$

2.35

 

 

$

1.47

 

 

$

0.58

 

 

$

1.76

 

Basic weighted average common shares outstanding

 

 

55,311

 

 

 

55,426

 

 

 

56,205

 

 

 

52,372

 

 

 

49,052

 

Diluted weighted average common shares outstanding

 

 

56,096

 

 

 

56,254

 

 

 

56,900

 

 

 

52,929

 

 

 

49,766

 

Cash dividends declared per common share

 

$

0.40

 

 

$

0.40

 

 

$

0.40

 

 

$

0.40

 

 

$

0.10

 

Other Operating Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fee revenue by segment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive search:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North America

 

$

455,826

 

 

$

408,098

 

 

$

356,625

 

 

$

371,345

 

 

$

330,634

 

EMEA

 

 

182,829

 

 

 

173,725

 

 

 

146,506

 

 

 

144,319

 

 

 

153,465

 

Asia Pacific

 

 

104,291

 

 

 

96,595

 

 

 

80,169

 

 

 

80,506

 

 

 

84,148

 

Latin America

 

 

31,896

 

 

 

30,624

 

 

 

34,376

 

 

 

26,744

 

 

 

29,160

 

Total executive search

 

 

774,842

 

 

 

709,042

 

 

 

617,676

 

 

 

622,914

 

 

 

597,407

 

Advisory

 

 

821,048

 

 

 

785,013

 

 

 

724,186

 

 

 

471,145

 

 

 

267,018

 

RPO & Professional Search

 

 

330,143

 

 

 

273,162

 

 

 

223,659

 

 

 

198,053

 

 

 

163,727

 

Total fee revenue

 

$

1,926,033

 

 

$

1,767,217

 

 

$

1,565,521

 

 

$

1,292,112

 

 

$

1,028,152

 

Number of offices (at period end) (3)

 

 

104

 

 

 

106

 

 

 

114

 

 

 

150

 

 

 

78

 

Number of consultants (at period end)

 

 

1,448

 

 

 

1,392

 

 

 

1,330

 

 

 

1,164

 

 

 

694

 

Number of new engagements opened

 

 

9,725

 

 

 

9,149

 

 

 

8,126

 

 

 

7,430

 

 

 

6,755

 

Number of full-time employees:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive search

 

 

1,960

 

 

 

1,865

 

 

 

1,791

 

 

 

1,682

 

 

 

1,562

 

Advisory

 

 

3,603

 

 

 

3,454

 

 

 

3,598

 

 

 

3,626

 

 

 

894

 

RPO & Professional Search

 

 

2,942

 

 

 

2,188

 

 

 

1,710

 

 

 

1,530

 

 

 

1,147

 

Corporate

 

 

173

 

 

 

136

 

 

 

133

 

 

 

109

 

 

 

84

 

Total full-time employees

 

 

8,678

 

 

 

7,643

 

 

 

7,232

 

 

 

6,947

 

 

 

3,687

 

Selected Consolidated Balance Sheets Data as of April 30:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

626,360

 

 

$

520,848

 

 

$

410,882

 

 

$

273,252

 

 

$

380,838

 

Marketable securities (4)

 

 

140,751

 

 

 

137,085

 

 

 

119,937

 

 

 

141,430

 

 

 

144,576

 

Working capital

 

 

585,852

 

 

 

455,799

 

 

 

385,095

 

 

 

188,010

 

 

 

331,148

 

Total assets

 

 

2,334,852

 

 

 

2,287,914

 

 

 

2,062,898

 

 

 

1,898,600

 

 

 

1,317,801

 

Long-term obligations

 

 

540,507

 

 

 

509,839

 

 

 

517,271

 

 

 

375,035

 

 

 

196,542

 

Total stockholders’ equity

 

 

1,243,387

 

 

 

1,219,615

 

 

 

1,087,048

 

 

 

1,047,301

 

 

 

815,249

 

 

(1)

Due to the acquisition of Hay Group on December 1, 2015, which accounted for $186.8 million and $740.2 million of fee revenue and total assets, respectively, during fiscal 2016, financial data trends for fiscal 2016 are not comparable to the prior period.

27


(2)

During fiscal 2018 and 2017, the Company continued to implement the fiscal 2016 restructuring plan in order to integrate the Advisory entities that were acquired in fiscal 2016 by eliminating redundant positions and operational, general and administrative expenses and consolidating office space. This resulted in restructuring charges of $0.1 million and $34.6 million in fiscal 2018 and 2017, respectively.  Of the amount recorded in restructuring charges in fiscal 2017, $16.0 million related to severance and $18.6 million related to consolidation of office spaces. In fiscal 2016, the Company implemented the restructuring plan and as a result, we recorded $33.0 million in restructuring charges, of which $32.1 million related to severance and $0.9 million related to consolidation and abandonment of premises. In fiscal 2015, the Company took actions to rationalize its cost structure as a result of efficiencies obtained from prior year technology investments that enabled further integration of the legacy business and the acquisitions (PDI and Global Novations), as well as other cost saving initiatives. As a result, we recorded $9.2 million of severance and $0.3 million relating to the consolidation/abandonment of premises.

(3)

The number of offices decreased by eight as of April 30, 2018 compared to April 30, 2017 and 36 as of April 30, 2017 compared to April 30, 2016, due to the continued implementation of the 2016 restructuring plan.

(4)

As of April 30, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015, the Company’s marketable securities included $140.8 million, $137.1 million, $119.9 million, $141.4 million, and $131.4 million, respectively, held in trust for settlement of the Company’s obligations under certain of its deferred compensation plans. See Note 5—Financial Instruments in the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

28


Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

Forward-looking Statements

This Annual Report on Form 10-K may contain certain statements that we believe are, or may be considered to be, “forward-looking” statements, within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by use of statements that include phrases such as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “plan,” “foresee,” “may,” “will,” “likely,” “estimates,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar words or phrases. Similarly, statements that describe our objectives, plans or goals also are forward-looking statements. All of these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the relevant forward-looking statement. The principal risk factors that could cause actual performance and future actions to differ materially from the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, changes in demand for our services as a result of automation, dependence on attracting and retaining qualified and experienced consultants, maintaining our relationships with customers and suppliers and retaining key employees, maintaining our brand name and professional reputation, the expected timing of the consummation of the Plan, the impact of the rebranding on the Company’s products and services, the costs of the Plan, potential legal liability and regulatory developments, portability of client relationships, global and local political or economic developments in or affecting countries where we have operations, currency fluctuations in our international operations, risks related to growth, restrictions imposed by off-limits agreements, competition, consolidation in industries, reliance on information processing systems, cyber security vulnerabilities, changes to data security, data privacy, and data protection laws, limited protection of our intellectual property (“IP”), our ability to enhance and develop new technology, our ability to successfully recover from a disaster or business continuity problems, employment liability risk, an impairment in the carrying value of goodwill and other intangible assets, the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”) and other future changes in tax laws, treaties, or regulations on our business and our company, deferred tax assets that we may not be able to use, our ability to develop new products and services, the impact of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, changes in our accounting estimates and assumptions, alignment of our cost structure, the utilization and billing rates of our consultants, seasonality, the phase-out of LIBOR, and the matters disclosed under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Exchange Act reports, including Item 1A included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Readers are urged to consider these factors carefully in evaluating the forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are made only as of the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and we undertake no obligation to publicly update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

The following presentation of management’s discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

Executive Summary

Korn Ferry (referred to herein as the “Company” or in the first person notations “we,” “our,” and “us”) is a global organizational consulting firm. We currently operate through three global segments: Executive Search, Korn Ferry Advisory (Advisory) and Korn Ferry RPO and Professional Search (“RPO & Professional Search”). Executive Search focuses on recruiting board level, chief executive and other senior executive and general management positions, in addition to research-based interviewing and assessment solutions, for clients predominantly in the consumer goods, financial services, industrial, life sciences/healthcare and technology industries. Our Advisory segment assists clients to synchronize strategy and talent by addressing four fundamental needs: Organizational Strategy, Assessment and Succession, Leadership Development, and Rewards and Benefits, all underpinned by a comprehensive array of world-leading intellectual property, products and tools. RPO & Professional Search uses data-backed insight and IP, matched with strategic collaboration and innovative technology, to meet people challenges head-on—and succeed. Solutions span all aspects of Recruitment Process Outsourcing (“RPO”), Professional Search and Project Recruitment. We also operate a Corporate segment to record global expenses of the Company.

Approximately 71% of the executive searches we performed in fiscal 2019 were for board level, chief executive and other senior executive and general management positions. Our 3,993 search engagement clients in fiscal 2019 included many of the world’s largest and most prestigious public and private companies.

We have built strong client loyalty, with 90% of the assignments performed during fiscal 2019 having been on behalf of clients for whom we had conducted assignments in the previous three fiscal years.

Approximately 70% of our revenues were generated from clients that utilize multiple lines of our business.

29


A pillar of our growth strategy is the Products business. In fiscal 2019, product sales comprised 31% of our Advisory revenue. Our subscription services delivered online help us generate long-term relationships with our clients through large scale and technology-based human resources programs. We continue to seek ways to further scale these highly profitable products to our global clients.

In fiscal 2019, Korn Ferry was recognized as a top five RPO provider in the Baker’s Dozen list, marking our 12th consecutive year on the list. Through decades of experience, we have enhanced our RPO solution to deliver quality candidates that drive our clients’ business strategies. We leverage proprietary IP and data sets to guide clients on the critical skills and competencies to look for, compensation Information to align with market demand, and assessment tools to ensure candidate fit.

While most organizations can develop a sound strategy, they often struggle with how to make it stick. That is where we come in: synchronizing an organization’s strategy with its talent to drive superior performance. We help companies design their organization—the structure, roles and responsibilities—to seize these opportunities. In addition, we help organizations select and hire the talent they need to execute their strategy—and show them the best way to compensate, develop and motivate their people.

We do this through our five core solution sets:

 

Organizational Strategy

We map talent strategy to business strategy by designing operating models and organizational structures that align to them, helping organizations put their plans into action. We make sure they have the right people, in the right roles, engaged and enabled to do the right things.

Assessment and Succession

We provide actionable, research-backed insights that allow organizations to understand the true capabilities of their people so they can make decisions that ensure the right leaders are ready—when and where they are needed—in the future.

Talent Acquisition

From executive search to recruitment process outsourcing (“RPO”), we integrate scientific research with our practical experience and industry-specific expertise to recruit professionals of all levels and functions for client organizations.

Leadership Development

We help leaders at all levels of an organization achieve their vision, purpose and strategy. We combine expertise, science and proven techniques with forward thinking and creativity to build leadership experiences that help entry- to senior-level leaders grow and deliver superior results.

Rewards and Benefits

We help organizations design rewards to achieve their strategic objectives. We help them pay their people fairly for doing the right things—with rewards they value—at a cost the organization can afford.

On June 12, 2018, the Company’s Board of Directors approved the One Korn Ferry rebranding plan for the Company (the “Plan”). This Plan includes going to market under a single, master brand architecture, solely as Korn Ferry and sunsetting all the Company’s sub-brands, including Futurestep, Hay Group and Lominger, among others. This integrated go-to-market approach was a key driver in our fee revenue growth in fiscal year 2018, which led to the decision to further integrate our go-to-market activities under one master brand — Korn Ferry. As a result, the Company discontinued the use of all sub-brands and changed its name, effective January 1, 2019, to “Korn Ferry.” Two of the Company’s sub-brands, Hay Group and Lominger came to Korn Ferry through acquisitions. In connection with the accounting for these acquisitions, $106.6 million of the purchase price was allocated to indefinite-lived tradename intangible assets. As a result of the decision to discontinue their use, the Company took a one-time, non-cash write-off of tradenames of $106.6 million in fiscal 2019.

The Company currently operates through three global segments. See Note 11—Segments, in the Notes to our Consolidated Financial Statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, for additional discussion of the Company’s global segments. The Company evaluates performance and allocates resources based on the chief operating decision maker’s review of (1) fee revenue and (2) adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“Adjusted EBITDA”). To the extent that such charges occur, Adjusted EBITDA excludes restructuring charges, integration/acquisition costs, certain separation costs and certain non-cash charges (goodwill, intangible asset and other than temporary impairment). For fiscal 2017, Adjusted EBITDA included a deferred revenue adjustment related to a previous acquisition, reflecting revenue that Advisory would have realized if not for business combination accounting that required a company to record the acquisition balance sheet at fair value and write-off deferred revenue where no future services are required to be performed to earn that revenue. For fiscal 2019 and 2018, management no longer had adjusted fee revenue.

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EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, and Adjusted EBITDA margin are non-GAAP financial measures. They have limitations as analytical tools, should not be viewed as a substitute for financial information determined in accordance with United States (“U.S.”) generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of the Company’s results as reported under GAAP. In addition, they may not necessarily be comparable to non-GAAP performance measures that may be presented by other companies.

Management believes the presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures provides meaningful supplemental information regarding Korn Ferry’s performance by excluding certain charges, items of income and other items that may not be indicative of Korn Ferry’s ongoing operating results. The use of these non-GAAP financial measures facilitates comparisons to Korn Ferry’s historical performance and the identification of operating trends that may otherwise be distorted by the factors discussed above. Korn Ferry includes these non-GAAP financial measures because management believes it is useful to investors in allowing for greater transparency with respect to supplemental information used by management in its evaluation of Korn Ferry’s ongoing operations and financial and operational decision-making. The accounting policies for the reportable segments are the same as those described in the summary of significant accounting policies in the accompanying consolidated financial statements, except that the above noted items are excluded from EBITDA to arrive at Adjusted EBITDA. Management further believes that EBITDA is useful to investors because it is frequently used by investors and other interested parties to measure operating performance among companies with different capital structures, effective tax rates and tax attributes and capitalized asset values, all of which can vary substantially from company to company.

Similarly, adjusted fee revenue, which includes revenue that Advisory would have realized over the ensuing year after the acquisition if not for business combination accounting that requires a company to record the acquisition balance sheet at fair value and write-off deferred revenue where no future services are required to be performed to earn that revenue, is a non-GAAP financial measure. Adjusted fee revenue is not a measure that substitutes an individually tailored revenue recognition or measurement method for those of GAAP; rather, it is an adjustment for a short period of time provides better comparability between fiscal 2017 and subsequent periods. Management believes the presentation of adjusted fee revenue assists management in its evaluation of ongoing operations and provides useful information to investors because it allows investors to make more meaningful period-to-period comparisons of the Company’s operating results, to better identify operating trends that may otherwise be distorted by write-offs required under business combination accounting and to perform related trend analysis and provides a higher degree of transparency of information used by management in its evaluation of Korn Ferry’s ongoing operations and financial and operational decision-making.

Fee revenue was $1,926.0 million during fiscal 2019, an increase of $158.8 million, or 9%, compared to $1,767.2 million in fiscal 2018, with increases in fee revenue in all segments. During fiscal 2019, we recorded operating income of $140.8 million with the Executive Search, Advisory and RPO & Professional Search segments contributing $179.1 million, $5.6 million (net of $106.6 million impairment charge previously discussed) and $50.9 million, respectively, offset by Corporate expenses of $94.8 million. Net income attributable to Korn Ferry decreased by $31.1 million during fiscal 2019 to $102.7 million from $133.8 million in fiscal 2018. Adjusted EBITDA was $311.0 million, an increase of $33 million during fiscal 2019, from Adjusted EBITDA of $278.0 million in the year-ago period. During fiscal 2019, the Executive Search, Advisory and RPO & Professional Search segments contributed $193.8 million, $151.0 million and $54.4 million, respectively, offset by Corporate expenses net of other income of $88.2 million.

Our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities increased by $109.2 million to $767.1 million at April 30, 2019, compared to $657.9 million at April 30, 2018. This increase was mainly due to proceeds from our Revolver of $226.9 million and cash provided by operating activities, offset by annual bonuses earned in fiscal 2018 and paid during fiscal 2019, sign-on and retention payments, $238.9 million in principal payments on our term loan, $46.7 million in payments for the purchase of property and equipment, $37.4 million in stock repurchases in the open market, $20.7 million paid in tax withholding on restricted stock vestings and $23.5 million in dividends paid during fiscal 2019. As of April 30, 2019, we held marketable securities to settle obligations under our Executive Capital Accumulation Plan (“ECAP”) with a cost value of $135.4 million and a fair value of $140.8 million. Our vested obligations for which these assets were held in trust totaled $122.3 million as of April 30, 2019 and our unvested obligations totaled $24.6 million.

Our working capital increased by $130.1 million to $585.9 million in fiscal 2019. We believe that cash on hand and funds from operations and other forms of liquidity will be sufficient to meet our anticipated working capital, capital expenditures, general corporate requirements, repayment of our debt obligations and dividend payments under our dividend policy in the next twelve months. We had $420.2 million available for borrowing under our Revolver at April 30, 2019. As of April 30, 2018, we had no borrowings under our previous revolver. As of April 30, 2018, we had a total of $122.1 million available under the previous revolver after issued letters of credit. As of April 30, 2019 and 2018, there was $2.9 million of standby letters of credit issued under our long-term debt arrangements. We had a total of $8.5 million and $7.4 million of standby letters of credits with other financial institutions as of April 30, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

Critical Accounting Policies

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations are based on our consolidated financial statements. Preparation of our periodic filings requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amount of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of

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our financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates and assumptions and changes in the estimates are reported in current operations as new information is learned or upon the amounts becoming fixed and determinable. In preparing our consolidated financial statements and accounting for the underlying transactions and balances, we apply our accounting policies as disclosed in the notes to our consolidated financial statements. We consider the policies discussed below as critical to an understanding of our consolidated financial statements because their application places the most significant demands on management’s judgment and estimates. Specific risks for these critical accounting policies are described in the following paragraphs. Senior management has discussed the development, selection and key assumptions of the critical accounting estimates with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

Revenue Recognition. Substantially all fee revenue is derived from fees for professional services related to executive and professional recruitment performed on a retained basis, recruitment process outsourcing, talent and organizational advisory services and the sale of product services, either stand-alone or as part of a solution.

Revenue is recognized when control of the goods and services are transferred to the customer, in an amount that reflects the consideration that we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those goods and services. Revenue contracts with customers are evaluated based on the five-step model outlined in Accounting Standard Codification 606 (“ASC 606”): 1) identify the contract with a customer; 2) identify the performance obligation(s) in the contract; 3) determine the transaction price; 4) allocate the transaction price to the separate performance obligation(s); and 5) recognize revenue when (or as) each performance obligation is satisfied.

Fee revenue from executive and non-executive professional search activities is generally one-third of the estimated first year compensation of the placed candidate plus a percentage of the fee to cover indirect engagement related expenses. In addition to the search retainer, an uptick fee is billed when the actual compensation awarded by the client for a placement is higher than the estimated compensation. In the aggregate, upticks have been a relatively consistent percentage of the original estimated fee; therefore, we estimate upticks using the expected value method based on historical data on a portfolio basis. In a standard search engagement, there is one performance obligation which is the promise to undertake a search. We generally recognize such revenue over the course of a search and when it is legally entitled to payment as outlined in the billing terms of the contract. Any revenues associated with services that are provided on a contingent basis are recognized once the contingency is resolved as this is when control is transferred to the customer. These assumptions determine the timing of revenue recognition for the reported period.

RPO fee revenue is generated through two distinct phases: 1) the implementation phase and 2) the post-implementation recruitment phase. The fees associated with the implementation phase are recognized over the period that the related implementation services are provided. The post-implementation recruitment phase represents end-to-end recruiting services to clients for which there are both fixed and variable fees, which are recognized over the period that the related recruiting services are performed.

Consulting fee revenue, primarily generated from Advisory, is recognized as services are rendered, measured by total hours incurred to the total estimated hours at completion. It is possible that updated estimates for consulting engagements may vary from initial estimates with such updates being recognized in the period of determination. Depending on the timing of billings and services rendered, we accrue or defer revenue as appropriate.

Product revenue is generated from a range of online tools designed to support human resource processes for pay, talent and engagement, and assessments, as well as licenses to proprietary intellectual property (“IP”) and tangible/digital products. IP subscriptions grant access to proprietary compensation and job evaluation databases. IP subscriptions are considered symbolic IP due to the dynamic nature of the content and, as a result, revenue is recognized over the term of the contract. Functional IP licenses grant customers the right to use IP content via delivery of a flat file. Because the IP content license has significant stand-alone functionality, revenue is recognized upon delivery and when an enforceable right to payment exists. Online assessments are delivered in the form of online questionnaires. A bundle of assessments represents one performance obligation, and revenue is recognized as assessment services are delivered and we have a legally enforceable right to payment. Tangible/digital products sold by us mainly consist of books and digital files covering a variety of topics including performance management, team effectiveness, and coaching and development. We recognize revenue for our products when sold or shipped, as is the case for books.

Annual Performance-Related Bonuses. Each quarter, management makes its best estimate of its annual performance related bonuses, which requires management to, among other things, project annual consultant productivity (as measured by engagement fees billed and collected by executive search consultants and revenue and other performance/profitability metrics for Advisory and RPO & Professional Search consultants), the level of engagements referred by a consultant in one line of business to a different line of business, our performance including profitability, competitive forces and future economic conditions and their impact on our results. At the end of each fiscal year, annual performance related bonuses take into account final individual consultant productivity (including referred work), Company/line of business results including profitability, the achievement of strategic

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objectives and the results of individual performance appraisals, and the current economic landscape. Accordingly, each quarter we reevaluate the assumptions used to estimate annual performance related bonus liability and adjust the carrying amount of the liability recorded on the consolidated balance sheets and report any changes in the estimate in current operations. Because annual performance-based bonuses are communicated and paid only after we report our full fiscal year results, actual performance-based bonus payments may differ from the prior year’s estimate. Such changes in the bonus estimate historically have been immaterial and are recorded in current operations in the period in which they are determined.

Deferred Compensation. Estimating deferred compensation requires assumptions regarding the timing and probability of payments of benefits to participants and the discount rate. Changes in these assumptions could significantly impact the liability and related cost on our consolidated balance sheets and statements of income, respectively. For certain deferred compensation plans, management engages an independent actuary to periodically review these assumptions in order to confirm that they reflect the population and economics of our deferred compensation plans in all material respects and to assist us in estimating our deferred compensation liability and the related cost. The actuarial assumptions we use may differ from actual results due to changing market conditions or changes in the participant population. These differences could have a significant impact on our deferred compensation liability and the related cost.

Carrying Values. Valuations are required under GAAP to determine the carrying value of various assets. Our most significant assets for which management is required to prepare valuations are carrying value of receivables, goodwill, intangible assets and recoverability of deferred income taxes. Management must identify whether events have occurred that may impact the carrying value of these assets and make assumptions regarding future events, such as cash flows and profitability. Differences between the assumptions used to prepare these valuations and actual results could materially impact the carrying amount of these assets and our operating results.

Of the assets mentioned above, goodwill is the largest asset requiring a valuation. Fair value of goodwill for purposes of the goodwill impairment test is determined utilizing (1) a discounted cash flow analysis based on forecasted cash flows (including estimated underlying revenue and operating income growth rates) discounted using an estimated weighted-average cost of capital for market participants and (2) a market approach, utilizing observable market data such as comparable companies in similar lines of business that are publicly traded or which are part of a public or private transaction (to the extent available). We also reconcile the results of these analyses to its market capitalization. If the carrying amount of a reporting unit exceeds its estimated fair value, goodwill is considered potentially impaired and further tests are performed to measure the amount of impairment loss, if any. We recorded no goodwill impairment in conjunction with our annual goodwill impairment assessment performed as of January 31, 2019. While historical performance and current expectations have resulted in fair values of goodwill in excess of carrying values, if our assumptions are not realized, it is possible that in the future an impairment charge may need to be recorded. However, it is not possible at this time to determine if an impairment charge would result or if such a charge would be material. Fair value determinations require considerable judgment and are sensitive to changes in underlying assumptions and factors. As a result, there can be no assurance that the estimates and assumptions made for purposes of the annual goodwill impairment test will prove to be accurate predictions of the future. As of our testing date, the fair value of each reporting unit exceeded its carrying amount and no reporting units were at risk of failing the impairment test. As a result, no impairment charge was recognized. There was also no indication of potential impairment during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019 that would have required further testing.

Examples of events or circumstances that could reasonably be expected to negatively affect the underlying key assumptions and ultimately impact the estimated fair value of the reporting units may include such items as follows:

 

A prolonged downturn in the business environment in which the reporting units operate;

 

An economic climate that significantly differs from our future profitability assumptions in timing or degree;

 

The deterioration of the labor markets;

 

Volatility in equity and debt markets; and

 

Competition and disruption in our core business.

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Results of Operations

The following table summarizes the results of our operations as a percentage of fee revenue:

 

 

 

Year Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

Fee revenue

 

 

100.0

%

 

 

100.0

%

 

 

100.0

%

Reimbursed out-of-pocket engagement expenses

 

 

2.5

 

 

 

3.0

 

 

 

3.6

 

Total revenue

 

 

102.5

 

 

 

103.0

 

 

 

103.6

 

Compensation and benefits

 

 

68.1

 

 

 

67.9

 

 

 

68.0

 

General and administrative expenses (1)

 

 

18.3

 

 

 

13.4

 

 

 

14.5

 

Reimbursed expenses

 

 

2.5

 

 

 

3.0

 

 

 

3.6

 

Cost of services

 

 

3.9

 

 

 

4.2

 

 

 

4.6

 

Depreciation and amortization

 

 

2.4

 

 

 

2.7

 

 

 

3.0

 

Restructuring charges, net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2

 

Operating income

 

 

7.3

 

 

 

11.8

 

 

 

7.7

 

Net income

 

 

5.4

%

 

 

7.7

%

 

 

5.6

%

Net income attributable to Korn Ferry

 

 

5.3

%

 

 

7.6

%

 

 

5.4

%

 

(1)

General and administrative expenses for fiscal 2019 includes write-off of tradenames of $106.6 million.

 

The following tables summarize the results of our operations by segment:

(Numbers may not total exactly due to rounding)

 

 

 

Year Ended April 30,

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018

 

 

2017

 

 

 

Dollars

 

 

%

 

 

Dollars

 

 

%

 

 

Dollars

 

 

%

 

 

 

(dollars in thousands)

 

Fee revenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Search:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

North America

 

$

455,826

 

 

 

23.7

%

 

$

408,098

 

 

 

23.1

%

 

$

356,625

 

 

 

22.8

%

EMEA

 

 

182,829

 

 

 

9.5

 

 

 

173,725

 

 

 

9.8

 

 

 

146,506

 

 

 

9.4

 

Asia Pacific

 

 

104,291

 

 

 

5.4

 

 

 

96,595

 

 

 

5.5

 

 

 

80,169

 

 

 

5.1