Russam Frontline 2: “Are darker times ahead for the Interim Management Industry?”

By Jason Atkinson, Managing Director, Russam

I’ve just read the news from Michael Page that “darker” times might be ahead with a recession looming.

At Russam, we are not seeing this slowdown, and it remains a “candidate” market, with the number of our interim vacancies up 12% from last quarter.

Last week I asked my extensive linked-in network (c3,000) of Interim Executives / Independent Leaders to answer a quick Poll on the “climate” of our industry.

I asked them to put “holiday slowdown” to one side (as an aside, I feel we are becoming more like our friends in western Europe – France and Spain in particular) when it comes to long, drawn-out summers and difficulty in getting things moving on the work front) and really think about the market for interim assignments and whether it will 1. Get better 2. Get worse, or 3. Be about the same by the end of 2022. It was encouraging to see the response:

Speaking to a colleague running one of the UK’s leading management consultancies; he was also upbeat, and we agreed that our clients need resources, they need to get things done even if their confidence in the market is waning (as backed up in a few surveys I’ve seen from the CBI and KPMG).

Economically we may go into a recession. At Russam, we have navigated through three recessions, and we were founded on the back of the early 1980’s recession. At this time, Charles Russam departed Beefeater Steakhouses (part of Whitbread), where he had been the no. 2 and set up as a “temporary accountant”; he began to realise there was a market for turning top finance professionals – often being made redundant – into independent consultants. Russam became the first mainstream Interim Management Provider in the UK at that time.

What we have seen during the recessions and downturns is the continued use of Interim as a solution by our clients. There will be different priorities and focus areas, but work continues to be commissioned and delivered. Permanent recruitment can fall rapidly, but Interim tends to be cyclical, reduces along a slower pattern, and then picks up quickly as the economy recovers.

One of our top interims working as a health and safety director commented on the survey results:

“I’m sure it will vary by industry and geography, but many companies are just starting to recover and to hire again after 2+years of COVID-related restrictions, layoffs and closures. For many, it’s been less than six months since they were able to get going again, so the “post COVID” bounce back has barely started.”

I will rerun this survey in Jan ’23 and report back to my network at that time.

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