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HOW FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES CAN GET THE BEST OUT OF INTERIM MANAGERS

Jason Atkinson, Managing Director of Russam GMS, a provider of Interim Managers for over 30 years, discusses how financial services companies can make the most from interim managers in 2014 to aid future predicted growth.

According to the new ‘CBI/PwC Financial Services Survey’, this sector grew at its fastest pace since 2007 and expected employment growth for the first quarter of 2014 is the strongest since the survey began. Additionally, Lloyds Banking Group[i] recently reported that business confidence has hit a 20 year high, fuelling hopes of continued growth in 2014 and the latest PMI Index[ii] for the UK service sector said business confidence rose to 73.5, its highest since March 2010.

Jason Atkinson
Jason Atkinson

Many financial services companies will hire interim managers in 2014 to take advantage of potential growth in the sector. In our latest snapshot survey of 12,000 interim managers, we found that the financial services sector was the busiest sector, accounting for over 10% of all interim assignments and we predict this to remain the case this year.

Hiring an interim manager is a popular choice for many companies as a short term recruitment solution. Interims can provide a flexible and strategic, high level resource that is cost effective and low risk – turned on and off to an organisation’s exact requirements often in response to market conditions. However, interims are often parachuted into companies at a time of change or crisis and called in to run specific strategic projects or supply skills that don’t exist in the organisation.  Our latest snapshot survey shows that just companies are recruiting interims to provide a specialist skill absent in a business – this accounted for over half of all assignments. 41% of interims said they were brought in to design or implement new strategies and 38% to deliver special projects.

These views are supported by Marcus Lee, Head of Resourcing and Talent at Santander UK who recently commented“We use Interims when we need to bring in specialist or technical skills for projects involving change, compliance or risk management. We may have specific, short term projects that require the rapid deployment of resources and a quick return on investment – interim managers are ideal for these situations.” Other focus areas for interims over the past year were business turnaround projects, mergers and acquisition or supporting start-ups and one in five interims said they played a mentoring or coaching role as well.

 Due to the often sensitive nature of such roles, interims can face resistance, suspicion or even antagonism from employees. To ensure assignment success, companies need to manage the recruitment process carefully to ensure they recruit interims with the right skills, experience and cultural fit.  Interims leading change programmes will need a good mix of leadership and interpersonal skills – the ability to drive change and make tough decisions – plus the ability to communicate effectively and build rapport with colleagues is essential.

 Robust recruitment process essential

 Companies must apply the same rigorous recruitment procedures as they would when hiring any senior business manager. An interim change manager will play a significant role in the business and getting ‘it wrong’ is risky, expensive and could mean a major setback to the business.

 A clear business case needs to be created from the onset, outlining the kind of person they want, the job brief and objectives. It’s important the interim has the right corporate ‘fit’ and we would advise any company to introduce the interim to relevant team members and the board as part of the recruitment process.

Objectives and targets should be set and companies need to consider the support they will provide for the interim during their assignment. Regular programme assessment should be provided to ensure everything is going to plan.  Preparations for after the interim’s departure must also be made well in advance of his/her end date and the question, “how will this look when the job is done” needs a clearly defined response.

Interim managers should always be provided with a clear scope of work and terms of reference for their assignment.  They must be given enough responsibility to carry out their role without encumbrance, but also have a route through to a responsible Director (or equivalent) to oversee and approve their activities in the best interest of the hiring organisation.

 Hiring an interim change manager can be a good short term, cost-effective and flexible solution for any business looking to implement a change or transformation, but the process needs to be well managed to ensure the assignment is a success for both parties.The following tips will ensure they get the most from them:

TOP 10 TIPS ON HIRING AN INTERIM MANAGER

  1. Check if you really need an interim manager or whether the skills and knowledge you require already exists within your organisation.
  2. Have an ideal candidate in mind to ensure you pick the right person for the job.
  3. Always use a reputable interim provider that can find managers with the right balance of management skills, technical know-how and market knowledge.  The IMA (www.interimmanagement.uk.com) is the industry body which sets out the ethical standards for the interim management industry, and its members adhere to a strict code of practice.
  4. Don’t waste time as the best interim managers can get snapped up quickly.
  5. Remember that interim managers can speak openly to clients about changes such as job losses because they don’t have emotional attachments to companies.
  6. Agree the aims and timescales of the assignment at the outset, so that both parties know their objectives, and review as the assignment progresses.
  7. Ensure the interim manager understands your needs from the start; once a contract is signed; an interim has five working days to understand the role and requirements.
  8. Clarify the role of the interim manager to permanent staff, so that they understand the person is being taken on for a defined period of time and can transfer skills to permanent employees.
  9. Don’t make pay comparisons to permanent staff; it is misleading because the interim manager is chargeable at an inclusive rate and does not enjoy benefits such as pensions or holidays.
  10. Interim managers can work for any size company and may be suitable for an SME that lacks skill in certain areas but is not able to justify employing someone full time.


[i] http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/media1/press_releases/2014_press_releases/lloyds/0601_Business.asp

[ii] http://www.markiteconomics.com/Survey/PressRelease.mvc/1132e9ba11934548a369f9a4872acb02

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