Founded in 2006, IDEX Consulting is an independent Recruitment and Business Growth Consultancy that services the Insurance, Financial Services, and Legal sectors across the UK, Europe, USA & Middle East. Their unique model combines talent acquisition, advisory services, and M&A. According to Richard Martin, Head of Group Operations at IDEX Consulting, “We have always taken pride in being different from the majority of recruiters. Even when we set up originally, we were deliberately different in how we wanted to operate, by putting the needs of our clients and candidates first, we were able to grow significantly while developing innovative solutions to provide a better service to our clients.” It’s this mentality that drove IDEX to transition from a contingent recruiting model to a more innovative version of the retained recruiting model.

The Challenges

Justifying a Retained Recruitment Model to Consultants and Clients

IDEX Consulting is a service-driven business that is focused on providing the best quality resources for their clients. Their philosophy is that they can make a bigger impact by connecting their clients with a shorter list of nurtured, high-quality candidates that are not active in the market, rather than a long list of CVs that they picked off of job boards. “Making a move into a more retained-focused business was quite a logical step for us, because we knew it would allow us to provide this more tailored service to our clients,” said Martin. The COVID-19 pandemic only heightened this mentality, as IDEX Consulting wanted to stand apart from their peers.

IDEX Consulting saw the benefits a retained model would provide their clients, as it would allow them to target a thoroughly vetted list of candidates for each role. However, they knew that they would be faced with some pushback. “Within recruitment, the payment model is outdated, clients have always been opposed to the idea of paying up front because the standard process is that you don’t get paid until you finish a job,” said Martin. “So, lots of our clients were quite resistant to changing the payment model.”

Yet, the biggest challenge IDEX Consulting faced was convincing their own consultants that they would have success pitching the retained model to clients. They needed data to prove the value of a retained business model to their clients and internal consultants. They wanted to show that the new model could save their consultants time & increase billings, while having a positive impact on their clients’ businesses.

How Bullhorn Supported the Transition to a Retained Model

Bullhorn has enabled IDEX Consulting to make the strategic shift from a predominantly contingent business to a predominantly retained model. They have utilised Bullhorn Analytics (formerly Cube19) and Bullhorn Automation (formerly Herefish) to demonstrate the benefits of using a retained model while convincing their consultants to focus their efforts in places that they would have the biggest impact.

Bullhorn Analytics Helps Consultants Focus on Revenue-Generating Activities

IDEX Consulting relies on the data from Bullhorn Analytics when justifying the retained recruiting model to clients. They are able to prove that the new model will allow them to fill open roles quicker, with fewer candidates. According to Martin, the team uncovered that if a client advertises an open role with a contingent model, they will receive ten to twelve CVs. These candidates are all active in the market, applying through job boards, and may not be a good fit for the role. However, when a consultant works through a retained model, they are able to spend their time filling less roles with more qualified candidates. So, clients working through this will receive an average of three CVs, and every candidate is a strong fit. “With Bullhorn Analytics, we can show clients that the CV to interview ratio and the interview to placement ratio are much, much better with a retained assignment,” said Martin.

Bullhorn Analytics also made it easier for IDEX Consulting to convince their own consultants to get onboard with the retained model. Martin said that their Head of Business Intelligence was able to sit down with each individual consultant and show them customised information such as the type of candidates that they are working with, their average fees, individual billings, and the amount of time it took for them to fill a role. By doing this, they were able to show their consultants that they were spending 80% of their time on non-revenue generating activities. “By focusing on that irrefutable data, we could show each consultant what they needed to focus 100% of their time on. Now they could spend all of their time focusing on the 20% of the job titles that were actually generating revenue,” said Martin. With this change, IDEX Consulting’s team is able to focus on the job titles that are making the most impact.

According to Martin, this shift resulted in a staggering increase in productivity. “The results speak for themselves. On average, contingent recruiting roles see an average of 10% to 15% job fill rates. With our retained model, we’re seeing consultants that have 80% to 90% job fill rates. We even have some consultants that had a 100% job fill rate last year!”

Bullhorn Automation Allows IDEX Consulting to Customise a Talent Pool for Each Client

Bullhorn Automation has also helped IDEX Consulting grow their Business Growth Consultancy and retained recruiting model by effectively nurturing candidates. If a client has a large number of roles that they need filled, the IDEX Consulting team needs to use automation to get the job done.

“With our retained clients, we use automation to identify the right candidates and nurture them over weeks, months, or years until that candidate is ready for a move. At that point, they’re exclusive to that particular client, so we will use client-specific nurturing,” said Martin. “The client isn’t just going to get two CVs a week for the next three years. Instead, they are getting a ready-made, nurtured talent pool specifically for their business.” By using automation to nurture and tailor individual talent pools for their clients, IDEX Consulting is able to offer a service that is more customised than a typical recruiting model.

Being able to use data is invaluable when it comes to convincing clients to use our retained model. Once you turn to a client and tell them that we can give them a better result, faster, with less impact on their time, for the same amount of money, suddenly it becomes a no brainer for them to say yes.
Richard Martin Head of Group Operations at IDEX Consulting


IDEX Consulting Added 3 Million Pounds Worth of Value to a Client’s Business

Since moving to a primarily retained recruiting model, IDEX Consulting has been able to provide an exceptional client experience. In one particular case, the IDEX Consulting team filled a single sales role for their client that made a significant impact. Two years after placing the candidate, the client decided to sell their organisation. It was then that they realised that the candidate they hired through IDEX Consulting’s retained business model had been so successful that they added 3 million pounds worth of value to the business. “It’s not just the profit they earn, but it’s what value that candidate and our service adds to the client further down the line as well,” said Martin.

In addition to making a positive impact on their clients, IDEX Consulting’s new retained model has enhanced the performance of their own consultants. With this model, the consultants went from having recruitment conversations with their clients to being viewed as a partner in that client’s future.  “They can go in and talk about the client’s growth aspirations and their business plan,” said Martin. “They are really able to make an impact on their clients’ futures, and this makes them enjoy their jobs more. Because they enjoy their jobs more, they perform better. Because they perform better, they earn more.”

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Bullhorn Analytics has forged the business we are now. If I was a blacksmith making a sword, the data would be like the hammer I would need to forge that sword. Without it, it's not going to work.
Richard Martin Head of Group Operations at IDEX Consulting

Ready to Get Started?