The number of enquiries for interim managers increased by 18 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, with an average of 79 enquiries per IMA member firm.

Meanwhile, the number of new assignments jumped by 20 per cent in the same period, according to the latest Ipsos MORI survey[1], conducted on behalf of the Interim Management Association (IMA), the industry body representing the leading UK companies that recruit interim managers.

Jason Atkinson, chairman of the IMA, said the survey revealed that the sector was thriving.

“The UK’s interim management sector is both established and well respected,” he said. “In fact it is now worth £1.5bn and this is an industry where Britain leads the world. Interim managers are experienced executives with specialist skills and a track record of achievement. They are hired by businesses on a project basis to solve problems, and their aim is to deliver results quickly, before moving on to the next assignment.”

However, Atkinson is also concerned that possible changes to tax laws, which could require interim managers to go on to the payroll of companies that hire them, rather operating as self-employed experts, are a threat the sector.

“The survey results come at a time when the Government is planning to tighten the rules on ‘off-payroll’ appointments,” he said. “I believe the current proposals risk undermining the value of genuine interim management as an effective resource model and a cost saving alternative to management consultancy.

“We simply cannot ignore the fact that increasing numbers of businesses are benefiting from the ability to quickly deploy highly skilled, independent executives, on short-term contracts to deliver specific results immediately and effectively. With many interim managers extremely reluctant to work on an employed basis, this vital resource could be lost.”

The survey also revealed female executives account for almost one third (31 per cent) of all the assignments, up from 24 per cent in the previous quarter.

Atkinson added: “Given the vast press surrounding the low levels of women represented in UK boardrooms, following the Lord Davies review, it is positive to see such high numbers of female interims. Clearly UK businesses are not doing enough to attract female talent to the boardroom, but increasing numbers of women are opting to use their skills to follow a career in interim management.”

Further Q1, 2012 survey highlights include:

  • The average length of assignment was 152 days, compared with 173 in the previous quarter.
  • Programme/project management was the most common reason for hiring interim executives, accounting for 36% of all assignments, with Gap Management accounting for 22 per cent.
  •   Over half (53 percent) of private sector assignments were in banking and finance.
  • Public sector business is dominated by local government – accounting for almost half (48 percent) of all public sector assignments.

In May 2012, the IMA launched its ‘IMA Approved’ campaign. The first of its kind for the industry, the campaign promotes a rigorous code of practice, to which all IMA members will adhere. And, the badge of quality is underpinned by a 12-point checklist, which ensures all members select and appoint only the best interim managers, guaranteeing that clients are provided with sound advice on the use of interim management.

Atkinson added: “The IMA Approved campaign represents the next vital stage for our industry, and our members are proud to be improving the services we provide to clients.”