Interim management has been the province of medium-larger sized intermediaries, but the tide is turning, writes Roderic Rennison...
Traditionally, intermediaries have been reluctant to pay for external support and advice. Instead, they may have looked towards providers for the necessary guidance. Interim management has therefore tended to be the province of the medium-larger sized advisory businesses, but all that may be about to change.
Pre-Retail Distribution Review (RDR), interim managers will have been involved in providing marketing and business development advice.
Their role could have involved helping firms to segment their client bases, understand their costs, review the profitability of product and service, and design or implement new propositions. The main focus would have been around working towards RDR compliance.
There is no doubting the impact that RDR has had upon the sector. As a result, larger numbers of intermediaries are now beginning to look towards interim managers for advice and support in this new world.
These managers are being brought in to run specific projects, such as setting up new divisions – perhaps in the area of wealth management, which I am certainly coming across a lot in my work.
The work is finite, and the interim – as a subject matter expert – knows exactly what needs to be done.
No more seconding
Intermediary firms see the value in bringing someone in with real experience and knowledge, as opposed to seconding people from within the business and running the risk of fee earners being detracted from the day job.
The three main areas of work where intermediaries look to hire in specialists are centred around growth (where new systems are needed), re-engineering a business or where regulatory pressures require an interim to help redesign or reorganise a certain business area.
The pre-cursor to expanding involves the project manager or specialist investigating the market, and then implementing the growth activity. Or they may support and manage key acquisitions for the firm in question.
The RDR has created significant demand in the regulatory compliance space - there is now the broader theme of conduct, in general. Organisations now need to look towards how they improve and refine the processes they have set up.
There may be times when it is more appropriate and cost-effective to bring in an interim manager to oversee a particular project.
Richard Clifford, managing director, Campion Willcocks: "Today, the interim manager's work is centred around refining propositions in light of practical experience gained following the first 12 months of the RDR.
"Now they are beginning to review the cost base and the overall cost of delivering and aligning the two.
"For example: the FCA's thematic review has brought about the need to have ongoing and appropriate documentation in place. Firms need to be smarter about how their clients view and use the materials they are presented with. Often it is the work of an external party or an interim for a concentrated period that is seeing this come to fruition."
Jason Atkinson, chairman, Interim Management Association (IMA): "The UK's interim management sector is the most established of its kind in the world, and is now worth £1.5bn per year, according to the IMA Ipsos MORI quarterly survey.
"Today, an increasing number of business leaders are seeing interim managers as a cost-effective solution to their problems. More than 20,000 interim managers work in the UK today - the vast majority in the finance sector. I like to think of them as Britain's best kept secret."
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