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UK – Interim managers in demand, but assignments fall

19 April 2013

Demand for interim managers declined on an annual basis, according to a new survey commissioned by the Interim Management Association (IMA). This shows that the number of assignments started have slowed last year despite an increase in the fourth quarter. 

In 2012, the number of new interim management assignments fell year-on-year  by -4% while those in progress were down by just -1%.

But in the last quarter of 2012, the number of interim management assignments increased to 382 from 324 in the previous quarter, showing an overall increase of +18%. Assignments in progress rose to 1,433 from 1,307, up +10% from the prior quarter. 

Meanwhile, for the calendar year 2012, the average length of an assignment for an interim manager increased to 175 billable days, the highest recorded. This compares to 173 days in 2011. Since 2006 the cumulated turnover of IMA member firms has increased by +51%. The industry is now valued at £1.5 billion.

Programme or project management work is the most popular occupation for interim managers. In the last quarter of 2012, this accounted for 40% of assignments. The private sector accounts for an increasing number of assignments. In the quarter, 72% of interim managers were operating in the private sector and only 28% in the public sector.

“The survey results are very encouraging and indicate that 2013 may well be the year that restores our industry to double-digit growth figures –  to the levels before major cuts took place in the public sector,” said Jason Atkinson, chairman of the IMA.

“I wasn’t surprised to see the growth in project management assignments for the last quarter of 2012 – approximately 10,000 of the UK’s 25,000 interim managers operate in this manner.

“Increasingly, interim managers are viewed as a cost-effective alternative to hiring management consultants or recruiting additional senior members of staff. They can be parachuted into an organisation for eight to 12 months – to deliver results quickly before moving on to their next assignment,” he said. 

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