Interim Management: growing globally

Interim Management: growing globally

intervju | 2022-09-07

In 2022 it seems that most recruitment firms want to establish and offer interim management aside from their core business of executive search or permanent recruitment. We have seen this development for a long time. Interim management is expanding in Sweden and the market for interim consultants has grown rapidly and perhaps even blossomed after a two-year long global pandemic. However, there are countries across the world where the concept of interim management and appointing a temporary manager has been a widespread concept for a lot longer. UK are somewhat of pioneers within the interim management area.

We spoke to Mike Davies, a Partner at the London based interim management firm Norman Broadbent, about the development of interim management within the English market.

“At Norman Broadbent we work globally and across most functions and sectors. We deliver assignments in America, Europe and the Far East, as well as in the UK” Mike describes, painting a vivid picture of a concept expanding across the globe.

“We are a firm that offers interim management integrated with search, so when a client has a need, we are looking to support them with whatever they want to achieve. In that sense, we are more flexible than the typical executive search firm. The client is in control when it comes to formulating their needs, and throughout the delivery of the assignment.”

Norman Broadbent has a business model that is very similar to Interim Search’s. The client has a specific need of a certain competence during a limited period. With a clear assignment description, we then present available candidates for the client, leaving the client with nothing but the ultimate choice of which candidate they want to hire. This level of service is particularly sought after in large companies undergoing change and dynamic periods. Mike confirms “the vast majority of what we deliver is transformation and changed based.”

Since change management today affects most businesses the demand for interim management is very big, as well as the supply. The market of interim consultants has rapidly grown within the last years. Interim Management may have been dominant within financial services roles and management team roles, however Interim Search, Norman Broadbent and a lot of other dedicated interim firms are experiencing a width of different roles. “Interim management is growing within Finance, Legal, Human Resources, Oil & Gas and Technology, to name a few” Mike says.

Norman Broadbent is established in the UK as one of the first interim management companies. Mike tells us that they had an active interim market back in 1996 when he first started. “Since then, the market has developed, and clients have become better in using interim management. We have huge networks of senior interim managers who see it as their main career and occupation. These people in many cases have seen five, six, maybe even ten different organizations with the same challenges, which is the experience that the client buys in the end.”

Are there larger changes within our world or society that enables interim management?
In the UK one of the biggest changes has been a taxation change (IR35) that transformed the way that a lot of interim managers engaged with the clients. We also see more fixed term contracts with very clear assignments and specific aims. However, the real driver of Interim Management, as I see it, has been technology enablement. Digital and Data digital developments that means that firms today are doing things that they have never done before. That itself creates extensive change agendas where the companies need an external individual to come in since they don’t have the right knowledge in house. Anytime there is change, interim management is valuable.

You mentioned that clients are more mature today. In what sense is that?
If I look back about ten years from now, we had clients that were large companies managing huge groups of interim consultants because they we’re having trouble recruiting permanent resources. Interim groups that was frankly too big. I believe that the best added value for a client is to have mainly permanent workforce in the company, and have interim managers to come in and deliver specific, time boxed challenges and programmes. With the help of an experienced interim manager, you can augment and coach other members of staff and deliver the projects all at the same time.

Mike can’t really offer us an answer as to why UK has been pioneers within the field of interim management. He thinks it may be because of their labor laws, that are somewhere in between America and Europe, and has helped offer a great scenario for people who want to work from their own companies as a limited-service provider, and then exit out. “Although we are London-based we have really witnessed the expansion of interim management globally for the last years. I have recently worked in Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. In working with interim management, you have a unique ability to move between markets and sectors. From a Brexit perspective it’s slightly harder, but still works. The key factor is the client getting exactly the competence they want at the right time, wherever in the world their need is. Globalization and flexibility have been real enablers to allow talent to flow and interim management to grow.”

Mike earlier spoke about the rapidly ever-changing technology and national taxation changes as drivers in growing the interim market. He adds that the recent pandemic and Brexit has also been large scale factors where companies need for interim services has visibly grown. “Anything that helps the client move from a post Brexit scenario where an awful lot of companies have had to change their operational model. Post Covid as well, we see a lot of roles that are experiencing a great demand and add a lot of value in companies today – a lot of product-based roles and positions within tech. From the people perspective, organizational design within HR has really blossomed after the pandemic. Simply because companies don’t look the way they used to. Risk practice is also very busy, and technology risk is one of the biggest challenges and threats to firms today.”

The pandemic has also changed the workspace as we knew it. Over the last two years Mike has seen an increasing demand in interim management when a client has difficulties recruiting permanently. “Before, interim management was often bringing in an experienced person to help the client overcome challenges where they lacked competence in house. More recently I’ve seen it be used more and more when clients are having trouble recruiting permanently.” Employees today has experienced a more flexible way of living and has requirements of a hybrid working model. Since then, the turnover in English companies has increased whereas the interim market has done well from there. Mike confirms, “For example, I have a client within financial services software that is having trouble recruiting a CTO, so they need an interim solution. It’s a very attractive role that many people would be interested in, want but also a highly in-demand skill set, so there are fewer potential people on the market for the permanent position.”

Lastly, why should every management team have an interim supplier on speed dial?
Well, some clients have excellent networks – some don’t. Even the clients who want to appoint an interim role themselves and have someone in mind, can never get an idea of the caliber on the market. The person they have in mind may not appear as the right candidate once they see the alternative candidates that are free on the market and whom they don’t have in their immediate network. I believe that if you explain to a client that hasn’t used interim management what benefits they get, they understand quickly that for certain situations, interim management is the only road to take.

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