A. INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT
The economic outlook has deteriorated significantly since I last blogged on emerging trends in interim management six months ago. Sovereign and banks debt concerns, plus political indecision in the US and Europe, has triggered extreme fear in financial markets. Governments seem powerless. Many genuinely believe that the World is out of control and in free-fall, so what of the cottage industry called “interim management“?
Based on my twenty years experience, at or near the top of the interim market, I have lived through many ups and downs. Using my own research and analysis (subjective and longitudinal), I have identified the following ten emerging trends:
- Framework agreements increasingly deployed
- Volume/high-street providers have chased rates and margins down to contract levels
- Selling by recruitment professionals
- Industry consolidation
- Social media and viral marketing
- Contingency workers
- Professional organizations have lost focus
- Convergence of professional services’ boundaries
- Integrity subordinated
- Economic & political uncertainty
B. TEN EMERGENT TRENDS
1. Framework Agreements Increasingly Deployed
Framework agreements have been extremely widely deployed in the Public Sector and are now getting more common in the Private Sector, especially in Financial Services. Framework agreements have tended to commoditize interim management and treat it like office temporaries or specialist contractors, like IT project managers, for example. In the eyes of the Cabinet Office, interim managers are just another type of contingency worker. Framework agreements have driven down rates and the selection process for the interim has become a simplistic, tick-box process.
In the old days, the interim was suitably over qualified and sold as having more than enough experience to complete the role. Under framework agreements, quality is essentially subordinated – this is to be contrasted with “traditional interim” where the provider often acted as the project manager, as well. Procurement rules, emanating from EU legislation have introduced layers of bureaucracy and inefficiency, with tenders, framework contracts, and commodification of professional services.
The Cabinet Offices’ Catch 22 rules have favoured big consultancies, who are now increasingly “one-shop-stops” for customers and contractors (with professional interims and intermediaries’ apparently out of favour with the Coalition Government).
Sadly, the real executive interim, true independent consultant or subject matter specialist, has been increasingly marginalized by bureaucracy (often emanating from EU legislation), and the powerful lobby of big consulting and the office services conglomerates.
2. Volume/High Street Providers have Chased Rates and Margins to Contract Levels
High street/volume providers were initially attracted by the higher margins in interim management. Over time, the selling ethos of the high street providers chased business aggressively and this resulted in an erosion of margins in the industry. Recession and Public Sector cut-backs also put serious pressure on interims’ rates. For example, Public Sector roles that were commanding rates of circa £700 per day two years ago are now only commanding £250-£300 per day. For many years, the traditional entry point to interim was £500 per day.
Unfortunately, these days roles are being described as interim management but are often commanding rates of circa £250.
The consequence is that interim management and contracting have essentially converged, especially in the Public Sector, where everybody is just a contingency worker.
3. Selling by Recruitment Professionals
The traditional interim selling model was adopted from the executive search industry. Indeed in the early days, many of the most successful top-end, interim businesses were also established executive search businesses. The search industry typically deployed experienced executives, who had reached board level in leading organizations and they were recruited for their contacts in specific sectors. Traditional interim providers used the same profile for sales consultants for their interim businesses – certainly in the early days. The traditional interim sales consultant would be prepared to stand his/her ground with the client and use his/her experience to advise the client of the ideal profile of the interim.
When the high-street providers arrived, they brought a completely different selling ethos to interim. The high street providers brought selling professionals from the recruitment industry – generally, they had no business experience outside selling recruitment. The high street sales professionals were generally organized by sector and picked up the language of the industry by talking to their clients. High street sales professionals were trained to please the client and brought a much more regimented recruitment style to interim, deploying powerful systems that were able to search CVs for a series of key words etc. In essence, the high street providers brought technical sales professionals to the interim industry – they were also heavily incentivized by commissions which strongly influenced individual behaviour.
Nowadays, most of the traditional interim sales professionals have retired, and the whole industry is largely dominated by people with a recruitment industry background – the keen observer might spot the odd, aging dinosaur but they are probably not doing much business.
For the big recruiters/office services combines, and, of course, the recruitment industry lobby, interim/contingency working is just one of its product portfolio.
4. Industry Consolidation
The interim industry has seen a series of waves of consolidation. Cash flow is vitally important and a number of providers ran into financial difficulty over the years. I would expect that many ISPs (interim service providers) are probably struggling with cashflows right now, with the absence of traditional bank finance. Many of the more successful traditional ISPs were sold to search or broad line recruitment businesses (inflated values were often paid for brands).
For some years, there has been huge pressure on margins and reducing transaction costs, with marketing also becoming increasingly challenging. The internet, social media and viral marketing have revolutionized the business operating model. Broad line recruitment and consulting businesses are able to carry weak financial results from their interim businesses – so there is a special pressure on the pure interim businesses.
Nowadays, major consultancies and recruiters are aggressively downsizing, so the pressure is on everybody.
Overall, there is a strategic convergence towards the low-cost, broad line providers, e.g. Capita/Veredus on the one hand and the boutique or specialist providers at the other end. The specialist providers include top-end providers, like BIE and Odgers, plus the large number of one man bands – many of which offer excellent service. Mid ranking, non-specialist providers’ are being increasingly squeezed and marginalized, especially if they are chasing framework business. I would sadly expect some well-known ISP SMEs to disappear over the next two years. In the Public Sector, the Cabinet Office is overhauling the framework agreements and it is expected that this will lead to Tier 1 and Tier 2 providers. Tier 1 providers will probably be restricted to the likes of Capita or Hays. Tier 2 providers will tend to be specialists and only cut in if the Tier 1 providers are unsuccessful. This model is also already available in Private Sector. Over the last two years, the interim industry has downsized staff, losing both traditional sales professionals and the high street sales professionals.
Apart from weaker sales, reduced margins, and increasing costs, the smaller interim providers (SMEs will now probably struggle to finance working capital, yet alone expansion and business development). SME ISPs will probably be struggling for survival over the next two years, and I would regrettably expect a significant percentage to leave the industry, with potentially extreme economic outlooks for SME ISP equity owners and sales consultants.
5. Social Media and Viral Marketing
Social media has revolutionized recruitment over the last five years. Many organizations in both the Public and Private Sectors turn to LinkedIn or specialized networking groups before they turn to a traditional third-party recruitment firm. Leading recruitment firms, like Spring for example, have developed internet based business models and are very comfortable with margins in single figures. The same is emerging in interim. I hear stories of interim providers ready to accept margins of circa 5% and tied to results provisions, as well.
This is all a far cry from the heady early days when margins were typically 30% plus – but in those early days, the ISPs were offering a truly value-added service and not selling a commodity.
LinkedIn has also meant that many enterprising interims are able to develop and enhance their own networks, securing business without the need of the provider. However, it is Viral Marketing that promises to totally revolutionize interim management. Viral Marketing essentially gives the smaller player enormous marketing leverage. So far, few interims and interim providers have effectively deployed Viral Marketing. It is expected that there will be a “first-mover” strategic advantage for the player who is most successful with Viral Marketing. A good proxy of maturity in Viral Marketing is the effective deployment of Twitter. So far, for the providers, BIE and Odgers are showing the most promise, in my view.
6. Contingency Workers
The value-added of the traditional interim is being eroded by the commoditization of interim (as a product/service). The Public Sector is now referring to interim as “contingency workers”, in essence lumping executive interim and contractors in one class of procurement.
There is a trend for day rates to be the same as a pro-rata permanent salary expressed in days – in essence, this ignores the fact that the interim operates his/her own business with risk plus marketing, professional and administration costs.
Increased deployment of the term “contingency workers” is in essence seriously bad news for the interim industry, as it ignores the interim’s value-added proposition.
7. Professional Organizations Have Lost Focus
There are three UK professional organizations: (1) Interim Management Association (IMA); (2) the Institute of Interim Management (IIM); and (3) the Association of Professional Interims (API). Most leading interim providers are members of the IMA which is essence has evolved to become a recruitment industry organization – there are some notable exceptions of successful interim providers who have declined to join the IMA.
These days, the IMA is strongly represented by volume recruiters and there seems to be little appetite for funding the marketing of interim management – presumably, each provider has their unique marketing approach?
The IIM and the API are professional organizations for individual interims, both having associate and member status – in these difficult economic times, both the IIM and API are struggling to capture/retain members. Both the IIM and API have limited budgets to explore public relations and marketing interim management.
The three organizations (IMA, IIM and the API) often present divergent views – each is focused on membership and funding. Many observers have traditionally regarded interim management as a “cottage industry”. Unfortunately, “traditional interim management” is being marginalized with the industry’s concentration on growing/preserving volume in more junior contracting roles.
8. Convergence of Professional Services’ Boundaries
There is an emerging trend for professional services firms to become hybrids, with lawyers selling accountancy and vice versa, for example. Recent UK legislation will pave the way for supermarkets and banks to offer commoditized legal services as standardized products – they will likely offshore much of the process, taking advantage of labour cost arbitrage in India, China or Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, big consultancies have continued to be criticized for inflated fees and not offering value-for-money.
Traditionally, consulting firms dealt with strategy or planning, leaving implementation to the host organization and external specialists expertise like professional interims (PIs) – now consultancies are aggressively storming the implementation and delivery market, displacing the weaker, poorly branded PIs who are without access to lobbyists, despite the PI often being more cost-effective and a better all round solution than the branded consultant.
9. Integrity Subordinated
Over my twenty-years as a professional interim, I have sadly seen lower and lower standards of professional integrity become the norm. Interims have often become chameleons willing to change their CV to land the assignment, irrespective of their real strengths and expertise.
When the “interim chameleon” meets the modern “replica ISP sales consultant” (who is an expert in Key-Word Analysis), we perhaps have the blind leading the blind and increasingly frustrating the end-clients?
The old days of ISPs really knowing a small, highly capable nucleus of professional interims are disappearing. Interim is now a sub-set of recruitment. With the increasing use of forums, like LinkedIn, many professional interims seem to be embellishing their credentials beyond their proven expertise.
Also sadly, many professional interims and ISP consultants seem to be ready to stretch the truth, rather than confront bad news and reality. It’s all a bit “Walter Mitty” or more blind leading the blind!
The traditional professional interim has long since been buried, or gone overseas to chase new challenges (the Cabinet Office sealed the coffin with Catch 22).
10. Economic and Political Uncertainty
With the combined sovereign and banking debt crises converging, and gross political indecision in Europe and the US, financial markets and terrified consumers around the World are looking at worse case scenarios of melt-down and 50% collapse in GDP in economies like Greece (following the Argentinian default a decade ago, 50% of the population were below the poverty line). Fear is feeding on fear. This weekend there is perhaps the most important summit since Breton Woods but already the divergent political positions of France and Germany, threaten to derail the publication of a credible plan.
Against this precarious backdrop, the professional interim sector is but an emaciated shadow of its proud self of a few of years ago. The Public Sector has Catch 22 controls, and whilst it’s aggressively downsizing, it will be politically embarrassing to deploy professional interims, except in very specialized roles. The racy days of interim in Financial Services are likely to face a train crash, with big banks forced to recapitalize and announce aggressive downsizing. Major Private Sector businesses are sitting on cash mountains, and prefer to repatriate funds to shareholders, rather than invest for the future – to be fair, the political uncertainty is leading to economic uncertainty, making the riskiness of investments a difficult call.
The latest view from the FT is that there will likely be more “fudge” served in Sunday’s European summit:
As far as the UK is concerned, the baseline outlook taken by the Chancellor in Plan A assumes growth and structural reform to the Public Sector. Plan A does not consider: (1) Recapitalizing banks; (2) Additional funding for IMF; (3) Additional funding for EU bureaucracy; (4) possible double-dip recession in the US; and (5) most importantly, “depression in the Euro zone”, resulting from Euro breakup or uncontrolled Euro breakdown.
Candidly, many traditional interim managers are either retiring or doing other things. The Golden Age of Interim was probably the 1990s. Some financially secure interims are retiring or taking an extended sabbatical. Many interims are looking to overseas markets in Australia, the Middle and Far East, either on an assignment basis or relocating their families. Younger and more desperate interims are jumping ship and taking permanent roles, if available – some interims are taking job seeker’s allowances.
Increasingly, I hear of interims prepared to “dumb-down” their CVs, and go after lower paid contracting opportunities. Others are offering their time to charities or wider voluntary sector. Many are struggling with their outgoings as austerity bites, and are happy to take on any casual money paying opportunity to augment the family finances and stretch out limited savings.
Against the above strategic, political and economic outlook, I must conclude that the outlook for interim management is extremely bleak.
My worst case scenario would see a circa 50% contraction from 2007, expressed in numbers of professional interims, ISP consultants and SME ISPs.
Regrettably, I would classify all interims and ISP consultants who are not economically viable as casualties.
I respect that others hold different views, and would invite them to be shared publically below.
Reblogged this on Dr Alf's Blog and commented:
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Two aspects of this debate puzzle me:
1. Why is there so much emphasis on the supply of interims to the public sector? After all, the public sector probably represents less than half the total market for interims and, given the cut-backs in expenditure, probably declining below that proportion quite quickly. Also, I suspect that the vast majority of assignments within the public sector probably fall within the contractor/temp staff/contingent labour bracket.
2. Why the belief subsists that ISPs provide one of the best marketing solutions for individual IMs, and that the CV should be the marketing tool of choice.
Let me expand, taking case 2 for illustration. My experience over more than twenty years at the Board level end of the IM market has taught me that there are two types of assignment:
a) Those that are seeking high level leadership qualities with a strong general management background bolstered by specific life skills and professional attainments, temporarily to fill a C-suite post (E.g. CEO, CFO, CIO, etc.) and
b) Those that are seeking the solution to a problem or to carry out an assignment which falls outside the area of an organisation’s existing core competence (e.g. a major restructuring, an overseas acquisition or disposal, etc.)
What is being sought is a PERSON with the gravitas, leadership qualities and operating experience necessary to tide an organisation through the leadership vacuum until a permanent appointment is made. I suspect that clients/employers probably choose to measure their requirements based upon the DURATION of a candidate’s experience (i.e. for how long has a candidate carried out equivalent roles). In this case a CV is a wholly appropriate marketing tool, and a traditional “headhunting” /ISP approach based upon a search via database and contacts should work well.
What is being acquired is a SOLUTION to a specific and presumably well defined situation for which very specific knowledge and experience are required. In these circumstances, one measure of suitability is the INTENSITY of a candidate’s experience; in other words, how often has the candidate completed equivalent assignments, together with a measure of the outcomes.
In these cases, perhaps the CV is not the best marketing tool; maybe a detailed listing of equivalent projects completed might be more appropriate as a marketing aid. Also, I feel that a traditional headhunting/ISP approach may work less well because it is difficult to reflect intensity in a CV, and very often the mix of skills required are not always available in one person.
In these circumstances I suspect that until the IM marketing model adapts, firms of consultants win hands down because they can almost certainly claim to have more extensive and broader collective experience than might be found in any single executive interim. This does not mean that an individual’s experience is less valid; just that in marketing terms it may carry less weight, particularly if the breadth of skills is not available.
It is for these reasons that I believe that a collective endeavour by independent executives may provide a stronger marketing platform than can be provided by existing ISPs, and that CVs are not always the most appropriate and effective marketing tool.
This response is already too long, so comments on the focus on the public sector will have to wait.
Thanks for your latest posting.
It’s perhaps about “boundaries” and “comfort zones”.
In terms of boundaries, the professional interim market is poorly defined, with confusion over the executive interim vs. contracting type roles. I know that you have tried to clarify the boundaries in the past but in the wider market, it is not well understood, especially by potential clients. Matters are particularly acute in the Public Sector which has suffered a large contraction and this is impacting on the rest of the market.
With regard to ISPs, again it’s probably about comfort because in the past some ISPs were quite effective in generating leads for established executive interims.
However, the central point in my posting is that the boundaries and comfort zone have permanently shifted.
I agree that professional interims who want to stay in the game probably need to fundamentally rethink their marketing proposition.
The time would seem to be ripe for like-minded professional interims to collaborate and offer a collective offering. Also, I fear that the word “interim” has become far too hackneyed and devalued. It is probably timely for entrepeneurial former executive interims to reinvent themselves
If the future is bright for interims or for ISP’s like his, as Nick Robeson suggests, then a number of things have to happen, it is not simply going to happen by a process of osmosis and a falling by the wayside of ISP’s who are operating on overly thin margins.
This is because the number of quasi-interims will increase as the public sector is culled and the downward pressures on rates will continue, so unless the number of interim assignments increases markedly, the number of real and bogus interims sitting on the bench will increase in direct proportion barring retirement, death, migration or a move into other available forms of employment.
For meaningful progress to be made at least the following are prerequisites:
1)The public sector, local authorities and quangocracies have to be wholly or partially won back from the Big 4, the systems integration houses, outsourcers, like Serco, Capita, Vangent and Vertex, and the second tier implementation consultancies. Until they are, 50% or more of the former interim marketplace will remain lost to interims for as long as David Cameron, who is well meaning but totally uninformed, is allowed to go on believing erroneous nonsense about the issue of interim management and worse still sounding off about it.
2)Interim Management will have to be more effectively marketed to the UK private sector and to market entrants from overseas by ISP’s and by interims whether individually or collectively, both as a concept and as a solution to business problems.
This is already happening in the USA where interim management is a newer concept and will have to happen here.
3)This more effective marketing is going to have to include an element of political PR and a recognition that a whole marketplace has been lost and that getting it back is going to take serious expenditure of time, money and influence.
We are now in the world of Jeff Inmelt, the “new normal” and the “Zombie Economy”(as Price Waterhouse Coopers calls it), where previous experience and immediate bouncebacks from recessions do not happen anymore.
So ISP directors who have access to people like David Cameron and the great and the good are going to have to talk to him and these other people and make them understand the true position and change their minds.
If they cannot do so, then they will have to employ well connected specialists in Political PR to do the job for them and through other marketing win the necessary hearts and minds.
At whatever level is appropriate to our own situation we all have to play our part or find other ways to get the job done.
On the basis of objective analysis is any of this happening and are ISP’s capable as a group of rising to this challenge?
The answer is not enough and not enough of them.
Can this be changed?/Changed fast enough before the Big 4 consultancies shut interims out of much of the private sector as well?
The answer is yes and time will tell.
This is because 2010 was the year in which ISP’s should have acted to influence the Government, but manifestly failed to do so because too many of them were in denial and too many interims on their books were hanging around waiting for the phone to ring.
Let me reflect on your last posting.
However, I want to pick up a previous suggestion that professional interims invest in state-of-the art selling skills. This morning I was reading the Economist with breakfast and recommend reading Schumpeter’s column entilled “The art of selling; The death of the salesman has been greatly exagerated”
As I was drinking my tea I was asking myself:
“We know about the absence of marketing in the interim sector (both for individual practitioners and intermediaries (ISPs) but is there a serious problem with sales skills, as well?” Could it be that John Gelmini has a point? Up until now, I have always assumed that the replica consultants from the Michael Page stable knew how to sell? Perhaps, technical selling is past its “sell-by date” (excuse pun)? Going back to the Economist article, it looks like interim needs a new breed of “rainmakers” and “peddlers”?
I know Alf respects honest feedback so here goes.
1. Yes frameworks have taken over but at board level there remains ways around having to deal with the likes of Hays and Capita etc. Those firms and their friends are not interested in providing the best interim managers to the Private Sector (“PS”) – they are primarily CV pushers, hence why there is little value-added and their margins commensurately low. I do agree about the influence of the consulting houses, who are more than happy to second their partners into the PS, often at no cost. It amazes me that Boards have not seen through this practice, which almost inevitably leads to a “bus-loads of consultants” pulling into the car park after a couple of months.
2. I dont agree. Established ISP’s have driven down fees, in a desperate attempt to survive as their overheads and infrastructure require a minimum level of business every month, so they are scrapping for business to stay afloat. I won’t but I could name several big brands happy to operate at margins below 10%
3. The world of Executive Search and Interim Management has relied on database searching techniques for over 20 years, so there is nothing new here. In this new world, the database in my view is dead. Its no different to the “filing cabinets of the 80’s”. Social networking technology will transform the way organisations engage with their candidates in future.
4. It’s some time since any real consolidation, with Martin Wood (BIE) remaining the big winner of our industry over the last 20 years. Any of the struggling businesses will find it hard to find buyers as the model of recent years is arguably dead, e.g. Consultants on huge base salaries, big marketing budgets and large offices etc. And Odgers and BIE have spent the last few years hiring recruiters from tier 2 Interim management firms, so I am not sure the can be lifted above the likes of Veredus or Michael Page?
5. I’ve interviewed hundreds of Interim Managers since April and can count on one hand those that have found work on LinkedIn. Perhaps at the contracting end of the interim management world it is more prevalent but the £1000 a day plus guys are not securing work through this route as you suggest.
6-10 Broadly agree.
I cannot agree with your summary. I am afraid as it is a huge generalisation and does not reflect the different levels of service being provided in the marketplace. In the world that I see as “Interim Executive Management”, I believe the future is bright but service needs to be delivered. Splashing CV’s at clients is valueless. Accepting briefs without seeing the client adds no value. Sending candidates to clients without meeting them adds no value. And with that comes margin and reputation erosion. I will be delighted to see businesses operating in this way go under, as they are systematically destroying the reputation of those of us attempting to deliver value and challenge to our clients.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog and provide thoughtful and detailed responses. As I indicated earlier, my blog is a subjective and longitudinal in perspective, based on my twenty years plus in the industry. Accordingly, it is encouraging that you agree with so many of my observations. However, I shall make a few quick observations on a couple of your points:
1. I am astounded that you believe that established ISPs have driven down fees to stay afloat to cover their fixed costs. This type of cost plus marginal pricing went out of vogue in other industries years ago. It confirms the immaturity and fragmentation of the market. It also reinforces the view that ISPs are dominated by sales people rather than marketeers. Perhaps, this also explains why the industry has invested so little in marketing?
2. I note your distinctions between “board level” and the “contracting end” of the market but question whether this is fully supported by both Private & Public Sector customers? Again this comes down to marketing, in my view.
3. I recognise that there are fundamental differences between the business models of SME ISPs and large broadline suppliers, like Capita/Veredus, Hays, Michael Page. Personally, I have had positive experiences with broadline suppliers both as a buyer & seller of interim services. In my experience, it comes down to the quality and integrity of the ISPs’ sales consultant, and for me this is generalizable across the sector – this is my point about integrity.
4. With regard to my conclusion, it follows the argument but I stress that I provide a “worst case” outlook. An upside best-case, would require radical change in industry leadership, marketing and lobbying, in my view. The Catch 22 lobby has demonstrated that the industry is probably too fragmented and immature to help itself. This week, we have seen the Prime Minister, in Question Time in Parliament, take a hostile shot at consultants and contingency workers. Based upon a conversation with my own MP, I would be extremely surprised if the PM understood the concept of IM etc? Also with industry lobbying having bad press, at the moment, perhaps “IM” has missed the boat, anyway? This all reinforces my extreme outlook
In the spirit of trying to punch holes in this darkness and consider solutions, we have to get better at catching, killing and eating our own prey through leveraging social media working others and our networks, developing sticky websites, SEO and through developing face to face sales skills through people like “Miller Heimann”, so that we are as up-to-date in this area as any 30 year old.
I went through SPIN, PSS and various courses with NLP Comprehensive, Quadrant Selling via DDI Inc. and the Grubb Institute of Behavioural Studies in my youth but all of these approaches are in my view totally obsolete, so the position I am adopting in this area is to say that “I know nothing and be prepared to invest time and money retraining”.
As for ISP’s, a few of the bigger and more effective ones will survive and if they metamorphose their offerings to meet the new conditions, they will prosper.
The rest will be eliminated by market conditions and the new imminent credit crunch caused by the bankers and those sitting behind them, who will insist on balance-sheet-rebuilding and all but stop B2B/SME lending.
In terms of collaboration, interims need to set their net wider than just themselves and form alliances with VC’s, Angel Investors and specialist consultancies who may be better at business development than the interims in their own right.
Reliance on UK companies alone is I think placing one’s “eggs in too few baskets” so I am looking further afield at companies who are trying to effect market entry into the West and Europe and those trying to outsource or effect market entry elsewhere, particularly in the Far East.
Interims with specialist expertise to impart could take a leaf out of the Americans’ book, by setting up webinars and in selected cases charging modest fees for them in advance. I am carefully learning about this as an area for both single and collaborative working.
Many thanks for reading my latest blog and providing a detailed and thoughtful response, which I broadly endorse.
Click to access Snapshot%20Survey%20-%20Jun%202011.pdf
I knew I would find something positive somewhere!
Please see my earlier comment. Personally, as a trained researcher, I would be a bit wary of using a survey instrument in these uncertain times. Also the global economic situation is gyrating by the second and it is too easy to get caught up in the fear and hype. On the other hand, I recognize that the Russam GMS snapshot survey is well established over many years, so perhaps it does provide some objective analysis. As I indicated earlier, I prefer a subjective analysis approach – it’s not necessarily better or worse but it provides a different sort of data.
An excellent analysis. We all know the market is tight for IMs and there is much truth in what both Dr Alf and Andrew Turner say. Without putting my head in the sand, I choose to believe that these trends will shake out those who have not considered the real implications of becoming an IM or simply don’t have the resources or command the rate to ride out the assignment gaps. As IMs we have to stay ahead of the curve and use our networks more. I have faith that direct, face to face contact and quality long term relationships will always beat bureaucratic and key word search based systems but I will play both games. In terms of a lack of integrity, most experienced IMs will have keenly felt it impact them many times in their career and you can’t blame them for playing the system which automatically excludes highly capable people because they used the wrong term in their CV for example. Caveat emptor has always and will always apply. The problem is that we can’t pay too much attention to the unremitting bad news because we would not get out of bed in the morning! Maybe in the interest of balance Dr Alf can now provide his tips as to how IMs can ride these trends and survive?
Many thanks for taking the time to read my latest blog and provide a thoughtful response. My blog article is deliberately subjective & longitudinal, reflecting my twenty years plus experience in the industry. I realize that a snapshot survey of professional interims may produce and entirely different perspective.
I take your point about prevailing “bad news” and will reflect on suggesting in a future blog a few of survival tactics for IMs wanting to ride out the trends and suvive
Why all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth? The status quo is surely a reflection of:
a) Market forces -global and local, shaping the working environment. If history teaches us anything, the situation regarding prices/rates will not last forever. True business oriented IM’s should have planned for this sort of eventuality and developed a loyal customer base that would see him/her through, albeit on squeezed margins and/or a reduced workload. The problem is that most current IM’s are not business people; they are redundant ex-employees scratching around for a crust to pay the mortgage and way too dependent on third parties to find assignments for them.
b) A total failure by IMs to adapt to a changing world. This is exemplified by the dogged and in my view misplaced determination of IMs not to work in any sort of collaborative association, thus making their position weak to the point of being untenable. In this regard, the sector is its own worst enemy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and respond with two thoughtful observations which I endorse