Headhunters Russell Reynolds are seeking a new chief executive for Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT), according to sources.

It is understood that Simon Hearn, head of Russell Reynolds' financial services division, has been recruited to find a replacement for JLT's executive chairman Ken Carter, whose contract expires in December 2006.

A market source said: "Hearn has already contacted someone in the banking community. It may be that the shareholders want a third person in the frame alongside Mike Hammond and Dominic Burke, both of whom want the job."

This week JLT reported plunging profits in the first half of 2005, with profits before tax falling 25% to £48.1m from £63.9m a year earlier. But JLT claimed the Spitzer inquiry had worked to the company's advantage.

Carter said: "The events of last October following the Spitzer allegations caused many firms to re-evaluate broking appointments.

"This contributed to the successful acquisition of 100 new clients in the first half, which also saw the dislocation of industry executives, enabling JLT to recruit 80 professionals."

Carter said a softening market and fluctuating currency rates had hindered the first six months. He anticipated the soft market to continue into 2006.

He added: "We should be able to move forward comfortably."