Interim managers are more likely to be on an assignment and feel busier than they did two years ago, according to biennial research by leading interim management and executive recruitment company Executives Online.

Two years ago Executives Online’s highly regarded UK Interim Report  revealed that nearly half (47 per cent) of interim managers were less busy than the previous year; however, this year 63 per cent (an increase of 19 per cent) report being as busy or busier than a year ago. Further, 27 per cent of interim managers report being busier this year, up from the 20 per cent recorded two years ago.  The average number of days billed in the last year by individual interim managers was 152, up from an average of 135 reported in 2011 and 2009.

Billing Rates

Adding fuel to reports of economic recovery, the majority (77 per cent) of interim managers are on the same or an increased rate of pay in 2013 compared to 2011.  Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of interim managers say they are billing more this year compared to last, and more than half (58 per cent) say the amount they are billing has remained largely the same.  Average day rates have increased from the £621 recorded in 2011, to £637 in 2013.

James O’Brien, managing director at Executives Online said: “What we’re seeing in the interim management sector, with slow but steady improvements in work flow and billing rates, supports the general consensus that confidence is returning to UK businesses.”

Work Status

61 per cent of UK interim managers surveyed are on assignment at the time of the survey, with 37 per cent of them working in full-time contracts, and 15 per cent on part-time placements. In 2011, only 53 per cent of interim managers were on assignment, with 29 per cent of them working in full-time roles.

Mr O’Brien continued: “Work status figures also show a slow recovery to levels that are beginning to approach those seen before the global economic crisis

“The number of interim managers working in full-time assignments has risen to 37 per cent after falling below 30 per cent in 2009 and 2011; however the figures are not yet back up to the higher levels of 56 per cent in 2006 or even the 40 per cent seen in 2007.

“The percentage of interim managers working on part-time assignments has remained at 15 per cent since 2011. The number managing portfolio careers, in other words working full-time via a combination of part-time placements, has also stayed constant at 9 per cent.”

Digital Development

Meanwhile, despite a growing number of new recruitment methods available via social media, clients’ preference for the support of a recruitment partner in finding the right interim manager has increased significantly in recent years.  The Interim Report shows that 47 per cent would first contact an interim provider in the event they required an interim manager.  This is up from the 25 per cent recorded in 2011.

While social networking is an important medium for interim managers to engage with potential clients, its role trails that of interim management providers in delivering assignments.  The Interim Report shows that 26 per cent of interims found assignments with clients who contacted them directly via LinkedIn or similar sites, which is little changed from the 24 per cent two years ago.  In contrast, 38 per cent found their last assignment via an interim management provider or recruiter.

Mr O’Brien commented: “Executives Online was an early adopter of social media for recruitment. But for interim management, using social media to headhunt candidates is too slow and narrow for delivering people who are an optimal match for the project needs. Our clients require speedy access to a diverse array of specialist skills, for which we have built and continue to grow our Global Talent Bank.

“As social channels have evolved rapidly over the last five years we have put in place a strong and focussed social media strategy, integrated with our overall search and marketing strategy, to support client acquisition and build the Talent Bank.  So, while many recruitment businesses now use social media as their main access to candidates, for us it is just one component in our arsenal of tried and  tested talent-acquisition techniques.

“For the future, it’ll be interesting to see whether social media platforms other than LinkedIn and Xing manage to enable the sort of transactional process necessary to connect talent with roles, or whether they merely serve as conduits of information about a company or person.  At the moment, we’re sceptical. We’re also seeing LinkedIn experiencing backlash from its controversial practice of allowing members to pay to appear higher in search results.”