Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Organization and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Organization and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
3 Months Ended
Jul. 31, 2023
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Organization and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies Organization and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Nature of Business
Korn Ferry, a Delaware corporation, and its subsidiaries (the “Company”) is a global organizational consulting firm. The Company helps clients synchronize strategy and talent to drive superior performance. The Company works with organizations to design their structures, roles, and responsibilities. The Company helps organizations hire the right people to bring their strategy to life and advise them on how to reward, develop, and motivate their people.
The Company is pursuing a strategy designed to help Korn Ferry focus on clients and collaborate intensively across the organization. This approach is intended to build on the best of the Company’s past and give the Company a clear path to the future with focused initiatives to increase its client and commercial impact. Korn Ferry is transforming how clients address their talent management needs. The Company has evolved from a mono-line to a diversified business, giving its consultants more frequent and expanded opportunities to engage with clients.
The Company services its clients with a core set of solutions that are anchored around talent and talent management – essentially touching every aspect of an employer’s engagement with their employees. Our five core solutions are as follows: Organizational Strategy, Assessment and Succession, Leadership and Professional Development, Total Rewards, and Talent Acquisition. Our colleagues engage with our clients through the delivery of one of our core solutions as a point solution sale or through combining component parts of our core solutions into an integrated solution. In either case, we are solving our clients’ most challenging business and human capital issues.
Further differentiating our service offerings from our competitors is the unique combination of IP, content, and data sets that we have, which permeate all of our solution areas. For many years, we have been accumulating data around assessments of executives and professionals, pay, success profiles, organizational engagement and design, job architecture, and candidates. Integrating this unique collection of data into our service offerings provides our colleagues with differentiated points of view and solutions, as well as the ability to demonstrate the efficacy of all of our offerings.
Over the last three and one-half years, we have seen more change in the workplace than we did in the previous 15 years. Today, we find ourselves doing different work and working differently. Employees want to and they are working remotely. People don’t want to be tethered to a single company for their entire career. Rather, they want to have many new and unique experiences across many different employers – a career nomad of sorts. There is growing demand for companies to have responsibilities that go beyond delivering profits to shareholders, covering areas such as Environmental, Social and Governance. The continual advancement of technologies like Generative AI creates a constant demand for workers to be upskilled or reskilled. All of these changes and disruptions lead to opportunities for Korn Ferry and make us more relevant than at any time in our history. We have core and integrated solutions that line up to these issues and help our clients solve their most pressing business and Human Capital challenges.
Leveraging the strong connection between our various service offering and our lines of business, we have an integrated go-to-market strategy. As we drive this strategy, a focal point for us is our Marquee and Regional account program which is comprised of about 340 of our top clients that generate in excess of 35% of our consolidated fee revenue. These accounts have Global Account Leaders assigned who help to orchestrate the delivery of core and integrated solutions that cut across multiple lines of business – effectively making all of the Firm’s resources available as our clients tackle their business and Human Capital issues. Korn Ferry is poised for continued growth. We are capitalizing on the current and growing relevance of our core and integrated solutions which, in combination with the strong connections amongst all of our service offerings and our M&A activities, drives top-line synergies that have resulted in double digit fee revenue growth rates (CAGR) over the past twenty years.
The Company has eight reportable segments that operate through the following five lines of business:
1.Consulting aligns organizational structure, culture, performance and people to drive sustainable growth by addressing four fundamental needs: Organizational Strategy, Assessment and Succession, Leadership and Professional Development and Total Rewards. This work is enabled by a comprehensive set of Digital Performance Management Tools, based on some of the world’s leading intellectual property (“lP”) and data. The Consulting teams employ an integrated approach across core capabilities and integrated solutions, each one intended to strengthen the work and thinking in the next, to help clients execute their strategy in a digitally enabled world.
2.Digital develops technology-enabled Performance Management Tools that empower our clients. The digital products give clients direct access to Korn Ferry proprietary data, client data and analytics to deliver clear insights with the training and tools needed to align organizational structure with business strategy.
3.Executive Search helps organizations recruit board level, chief executive and other senior executive and general management talent to deliver lasting impact. The Company’s approach to placing talent is bringing together research-based IP, proprietary assessments and behavioral interviewing with practical experience to determine
ideal organizational fit. Salary benchmarking then helps the Company build appropriate frameworks for compensation and retention. This business is managed and reported on a geographic basis and represents four of the Company’s reportable segments (Executive Search North America, Executive Search Europe, the Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”), Executive Search Asia Pacific and Executive Search Latin America).
4.Professional Search & Interim delivers enterprise talent acquisition solutions for professional level middle and upper management. The Company helps clients source high-quality candidates at speed and scale globally, covering single-hire to multi-hire permanent placements and interim contractors.
5.Recruitment Process Outsourcing ("RPO") offers scalable recruitment outsourcing solutions leveraging customized technology and talent insights. The Company's scalable solutions, built on science and powered by best-in-class technology and consulting expertise, enable the Company to act as a strategic partner in clients’ quest for superior recruitment outcomes and better candidate fit.
Basis of Consolidation and Presentation
The accompanying financial statements should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included in the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended April 30, 2023 for the Company and its wholly and majority owned/controlled domestic and international subsidiaries. All intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation. The preparation of the consolidated financial statements conform with United States (“U.S.”) generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) and prevailing practice within the Company's different industries. The accompanying consolidated financial statements include all adjustments consisting of normal recurring accruals and any other adjustments that management considers necessary for a fair presentation of the results for these periods. The results of operations for the interim period are not necessarily indicative of the results for the entire fiscal year or any other period.
The Company has control of a Mexican subsidiary and consolidates the operations of this subsidiary. Noncontrolling interest, which represents the Mexican partners’ 51% interest in the Mexican subsidiary, is reflected on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.
The Company considers events or transactions that occur after the balance sheet date but before the consolidated financial statements are issued to provide additional evidence relative to certain estimates or to identify matters that require additional disclosures.
Use of Estimates and Uncertainties
The preparation of the consolidated financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the consolidated financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could materially differ from these estimates, and changes in estimates are reported in current operations as new information is learned or upon the amounts becoming fixed or determinable.
Revenue Recognition
Substantially all fee revenue is derived from talent and organizational consulting services and digital sales, stand-alone or as part of a solution, fees for professional services related to executive and professional recruitment performed on a retained basis, interim services and RPO, 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 the Company expects 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 Standards Codification (“ASC”) 606 (“ASC 606”), Revenue from Contracts with Customers: 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.
Consulting fee revenue is primarily recognized as services are rendered, measured by total hours incurred as a percentage of 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, the Company accrues or defers revenue as appropriate.
Digital fee revenue is generated from IP platforms enabling large-scale, technology-based talent programs for pay, talent development, engagement, and assessment and is consumed directly by an end user or indirectly through a consulting engagement. Revenue is recognized as services are delivered and the Company has a legally enforceable right to payment. Revenue also comes from the sale of the Company’s proprietary IP subscriptions, which are considered symbolic IP due to the dynamic nature of the content. As a result, revenue is recognized over the term of the contract. Functional IP licenses grant customers the right to use IP content via the 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. Revenue for
tangible and digital products sold by the Company, such as books and digital files, is recognized when these products are shipped.
Fee revenue from executive and professional search activities is generally one-third of the estimated first-year cash 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, the Company estimates 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. The Company generally recognizes 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. In addition to talent acquisition for permanent placement roles, the Professional Search & Interim segment also offers recruitment services for interim roles. Interim roles are short term in duration, generally less than 12 months. Generally, each interim role is a separate performance obligation. The Company recognizes fee revenue over the duration that the interim resources’ services are provided which also aligns to the contracted invoicing plan and enforceable right to payment.
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.
The Company incurs certain out-of-pocket expenses that are reimbursed by its clients, which are accounted for as revenue in the consolidated statements of income.
Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
An allowance is established for doubtful accounts by taking a charge to general and administrative expenses. The Company’s expected credit loss allowance methodology for accounts receivable is developed using historical collection experience, current and future economic and market conditions and a review of the current status of customers’ trade accounts receivable. Due to the short-term nature of such receivables, the estimate of the amount of accounts receivable that may not be collected is primarily based on historical loss-rate experience. When required, the Company adjusts the loss-rate methodology to account for current conditions and reasonable and supportable expectations of future economic and market conditions. The Company generally assesses future economic condition for a period of sixty to ninety days, which corresponds with the contractual life of its accounts receivables. After the Company exhausts all collection efforts, the amount of the allowance is reduced for balances written off as uncollectible.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
The Company considers all highly liquid investments with original maturities of three months or less from the date of purchase to be cash equivalents. As of July 31, 2023 and April 30, 2023, the Company’s investments in cash equivalents consisted of money market funds. The Company maintains its cash and cash equivalents in bank accounts that exceed federally insured FDIC limits. The Company has not experienced any losses in such accounts.
Marketable Securities
The Company currently has investments in marketable securities and mutual funds that are classified as either equity securities or available-for-sale debt securities. The classification of the investments in these marketable securities and mutual funds is assessed upon purchase and reassessed at each reporting period. These investments are recorded at fair value and are classified as marketable securities in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets. The investments that the Company may sell within the next 12 months are carried as current assets.
The Company invests in mutual funds (for which market prices are readily available) that are held in trust to satisfy obligations under the Company’s deferred compensation plans. Such investments are classified as equity securities and mirror the employees’ investment elections in their deemed accounts in the Executive Capital Accumulation Plan and similar plans in Asia Pacific and Canada (“ECAP”) from a pre-determined set of securities. Realized gains (losses) on marketable securities are determined by specific identification. Interest is recognized on an accrual basis; dividends are recorded as earned on the ex-dividend date. Interest, dividend income and the changes in fair value in marketable securities are recorded in the accompanying consolidated statements of income in other income, net.
The Company also invests cash in excess of its daily operating requirements and capital needs primarily in marketable fixed income (debt) securities in accordance with the Company’s investment policy, which restricts the type of investments that can be made. The Company’s investment portfolio includes commercial paper and corporate notes/bonds. These marketable fixed income (debt) securities are classified as available-for-sale securities based on management’s decision, at the date such securities are acquired, not to hold these securities to maturity or actively trade them. The Company carries these marketable debt securities at fair value based on the market prices for these marketable debt securities or similar debt securities whose prices are readily available. The changes in fair values, net of applicable taxes, are recorded as unrealized gains or losses as a component of comprehensive income unless the change is due to credit loss. A credit loss is recorded in the statements of income in other income, net; any amount in excess of the credit loss is recorded as unrealized losses as a component of comprehensive income. Generally, the amount of the loss is the difference between the cost or amortized cost and its then current fair value; a credit loss is the difference between the discounted expected future cash flows to be collected from the debt security and the cost or amortized cost of the debt security. During the three months ended July 31, 2023 and 2022, no amount was recognized as a credit loss for the Company’s available for sales debt securities.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Fair value is the price the Company would receive to sell an asset or transfer a liability (exit price) in an orderly transaction between market participants. For those assets and liabilities recorded or disclosed at fair value, the Company determines the fair value based upon the quoted market price, if available. If a quoted market price is not available for identical assets, the fair value is based upon the quoted market price of similar assets. The fair values are assigned a level within the fair value hierarchy as defined below:
Level 1: Observable inputs such as quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets that are accessible at the measurement date for identical, unrestricted assets or liabilities.
Level 2: Inputs other than quoted prices that are observable for the asset or liability, either directly or indirectly. These include quoted prices for similar assets or liabilities in active markets and quoted prices for identical or similar assets or liabilities in markets that are not active.
Level 3: Unobservable inputs that reflect the reporting entity’s own assumptions.
As of July 31, 2023 and April 30, 2023, the Company held certain assets that are required to be measured at fair value on a recurring basis. These included cash equivalents, accounts receivable, marketable securities and foreign currency forward contracts. The carrying amount of cash equivalents and accounts receivable approximates fair value due to the short-term maturity of these instruments. The fair values of marketable securities classified as equity securities are obtained from quoted market prices, and the fair values of marketable securities classified as available-for-sale and foreign currency forward contracts are obtained from a third party, which are based on quoted prices or market prices for similar assets and financial instruments.
Foreign Currency Forward Contracts Not Designated as Hedges
The Company has established a program that primarily utilizes foreign currency forward contracts to offset the risks associated with the effects of certain foreign currency exposures primarily originating from intercompany balances due to cross border work performed in the ordinary course of business. These foreign currency forward contracts are neither used for trading purposes nor are they designated as hedging instruments pursuant to ASC 815, Derivatives and Hedging. Accordingly, the fair value of these contracts is recorded as of the end of the reporting period in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets, while the change in fair value is recorded to the accompanying consolidated statements of income.
Business Acquisitions
Business acquisitions are accounted for under the acquisition method. The acquisition method requires the reporting entity to identify the acquirer, determine the acquisition date, recognize and measure the identifiable assets acquired, the liabilities assumed and any noncontrolling interest in the acquired entity, and recognize and measure goodwill or a gain from the purchase. The acquiree’s results are included in the Company’s consolidated financial statements from the date of acquisition. Assets acquired and liabilities assumed are recorded at their fair values and the excess of the purchase price over the amounts assigned is recorded as goodwill, or if the fair value of the assets acquired exceeds the purchase price consideration, a bargain purchase gain is recorded. Adjustments to fair value assessments are generally recorded to goodwill over the measurement period (not longer than 12 months). The acquisition method also requires that acquisition-related transaction and post-acquisition restructuring costs be charged to expense as committed and requires the Company to recognize and measure certain assets and liabilities including those arising from contingencies and contingent consideration in a business combination.
The Company determines if an arrangement is a lease at inception. Operating leases are included in operating lease right-of-use (“ROU”) assets and current and non-current operating lease liability, in the consolidated balance sheets. Finance leases are included in property and equipment, net, other accrued liabilities and other liabilities in the consolidated balance sheets.
ROU assets represent the Company's right to use an underlying asset for the lease term, and the lease liabilities represent the Company's obligation to make lease payments arising from the lease. Operating lease ROU assets and operating lease liabilities are recognized based on the present value of the future minimum lease payments over the lease term on the commencement date. As most of the Company’s leases do not provide an implicit rate, the Company uses its estimated incremental borrowing rate based on the information available at the commencement date in determining the present value of future payments. The operating lease ROU asset also includes any lease payments made and excludes lease incentives and initial direct costs incurred. Lease terms may include options to extend or terminate the lease when it is reasonably certain that the Company will exercise that option. Lease expense for minimum lease payments is recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease term, with variable lease payments recognized in the periods in which they are incurred.
The Company has lease agreements with lease and non-lease components. For all leases with non-lease components the Company accounts for the lease and non-lease components as a single lease component.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
Long-lived assets include property, equipment, ROU assets and software developed or obtained for internal use. In accordance with ASC 360, Property, Plant and Equipment, management reviews the Company’s recorded long-lived assets for impairment annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be fully recoverable. Events relating to recoverability may include significant unfavorable changes in business conditions, recurring losses, or a forecasted inability to achieve break-even operating results over an extended period. The Company determines the extent to which an asset may be impaired based upon its expectation of the asset’s future usability, as well as on a reasonable assurance that the future cash flows associated with the asset will be in excess of its carrying amount. If the total of the expected undiscounted future cash flows is less than the carrying amount of the asset, a loss is recognized for the difference between fair value and the carrying value of the asset. During the three months ended July 31, 2023, the Company reduced its real estate footprint and as a result, the Company recorded an impairment charge of ROU assets of $1.6 million and an impairment of leasehold improvements and furniture and fixtures of $0.1 million, both recorded in the consolidated statements of income in general and administrative expenses. During the three months ended July 31, 2022, there were no impairment charges recorded.
Goodwill and Intangible Assets
Goodwill represents the excess of the purchase price over the fair value of assets acquired. Goodwill is tested for impairment annually and more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that it is more likely than not that the asset is impaired. Results of the annual qualitative impairment test performed as of January 31, 2023, indicated that the fair value of each of the reporting units exceeded its carrying amount. As a result, no impairment charge was recognized. As of July 31, 2023 and April 30, 2023, there were no indicators of potential impairment with respect to the Company’s goodwill that would require further testing.
Intangible assets primarily consist of customer lists, non-compete agreements, proprietary databases and IP. Intangible assets are recorded at their estimated fair value at the date of acquisition and are amortized in a pattern in which the asset is consumed, if that pattern can be reliably determined, or using the straight-line method over their estimated useful lives, which range from one to 24 years. For intangible assets subject to amortization, an impairment loss is recognized if the carrying amount of the intangible assets is not recoverable and exceeds fair value. The carrying amount of the intangible assets is considered not recoverable if it exceeds the sum of the undiscounted cash flows expected to result from use of the asset. The Company reviewed its intangible assets and did not identify any impairment as of July 31, 2023 and April 30, 2023.
Compensation and Benefits Expense
Compensation and benefits expense in the accompanying consolidated statements of income consist of compensation and benefits paid to consultants (employees who originate business), executive officers and administrative and support personnel. The most significant portions of this expense are salaries and the amounts paid under the annual performance-related bonus plan to employees. The portion of the expense applicable to salaries is comprised of amounts earned by employees during a reporting period. The portion of the expenses applicable to annual performance-related bonuses refers to the Company’s annual employee performance-related bonus with respect to a fiscal year, the amount of which is communicated and paid to each eligible employee following the completion of the fiscal year.
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 and Professional Search consultants and revenue and other performance/profitability metrics for Consulting, Digital, Interim and RPO consultants), the level of engagements referred by a consultant in one line of business to a different line of business, and Company performance, including profitability, competitive forces and future economic conditions and their impact on the Company’s 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 objectives, the results of individual performance appraisals and the current economic landscape. Accordingly, each quarter the Company reevaluates the assumptions used to estimate annual performance-related bonus liability and adjusts the carrying amount of the liability recorded on the consolidated balance sheet and reports any changes in the estimate in current operations.
Because annual performance-based bonuses are communicated and paid only after the Company reports its 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 not been significant and are recorded in current operations in the period in which they are determined. The performance-related bonus expense was $92.1 million and $101.8 million during the three months ended July 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively, included in compensation and benefits expense in the consolidated statements of income.
Other expenses included in compensation and benefits expense are due to changes in deferred compensation and pension plan liabilities, changes in cash surrender value (“CSV”) of company-owned life insurance (“COLI”) contracts, amortization of stock-based compensation awards, commissions, payroll taxes and employee insurance benefits. Unearned compensation on the consolidated balance sheets includes long-term retention awards that are generally amortized over four-to-five years.
Restructuring Charges, Net
The Company accounts for its restructuring charges as a liability when the obligations are incurred and records such changes at fair value. Changes in the estimate of the restructuring charges are recorded in the period the change is determined.
Stock-Based Compensation
The Company has employee compensation plans under which various types of stock-based instruments are granted. These instruments principally include restricted stock units, restricted stock and an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”). The Company recognizes compensation expense related to restricted stock units, restricted stock and the estimated fair value of stock purchases under the ESPP on a straight-line basis over the service period for the entire award.
Recently Adopted Accounting Standards
In October 2021, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued an amendment in accounting for contract assets and contract liabilities from contracts with customers, which clarifies that an acquirer of a business should recognize and measure contract assets and contract liabilities in a business combination in accordance with ASC 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. The amendment of this standard became effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2022 and is to be applied prospectively to business combinations that occur after the effective date. The Company adopted this guidance in its fiscal year beginning May 1, 2023 and the adoption of this guidance did not have a material impact on the consolidated financial statements.