Despite the fact that the numbers of financial services executives have been slashed by the financial market downturn, Robin Judson sees enough demand for hedge fund, private equity and investment banking know-how to launch her own recruiting firm.

Judson, who has placed hundreds of executives and other financial service professionals during her 25 years in the business, announced the launch on Monday.

Based in New York City, Robin Judson Partners will focus on placing hedge funds, private equity and investment banking professionals investors. The firm’s launch coincides with a Rydex|SGI industry study that found 71% of advisors surveyed advocate using alternatives for their clients, with 19% having at least half of their clients invested in alternatives. The study also showed that advisory firms that use alternative investments often have more clients and assets under management compared with those who use little to no alternative investments, and that the use of alternatives will only increase in the coming years.

Judson is steeped in the Wall Street environment. She comes from Smith Hanley Associates, a recruiting firm also based in New York City, and before that, she was a research analyst at Merrill Lynch. At the brokerage firm, she advised senior management of major transportation companies, and Merrill’s equity research and investment banking groups. Two former senior vice presidents at Smith Hanley Associates, Debra Witkin and Janine Korson, will join the firm as managing directors. Judson says, however, that although the firm is woman-owned, it was not done so by design, so their recruiting focus will be much broader.

There are particular pockets of demand among financial services firms, though, Judson said. There is tremendous demand for junior professionals with investment banking skills or deal-related credit skills, she said. Those professionals ought to be familiar with doing analysis on a credit and fixed-income desk, and looking at bonds or bank loans. Multi-strategy hedge funds, credit and distressed hedge funds in particular are hungry for financiers that have transactionally oriented credit backgrounds, she said. Right now, the industry is also looking for “senior people who are able to raise capital, develop marketing plans and investor relations for firms are in demand.”

Robin Judson Partners will stay, for the moment, a three-member firm, and will probably wait until after the first quarter of 2011 before looking to add any other professionals for its own staff.