Businesses are spending £2,000 per day on temporary ‘Interim Managers’ to help them survive past Covid-19

Whilst UK redundancies are rising at the fastest rate since 2009 amid the Covid-19 crisis, businesses have continued to hire at the very senior level to help push through new continuity and transformation projects – with assignments for Interim Managers expected to increase by 15-35% in the final quarter of the year.

The findings come from leading recruiter Robert Walters’ European Interim Management Remuneration & Market Report 2020 – which launched this week – and reveals that top UK Interim Managers can command as much as £2,000 per day due to the demand bought on by Covid-19.

A relatively new term to many, Interim Managers – not to be confused with a consultant – are highly experienced ‘hands-on’ managers – with a proven track record – who are typically hand-picked to match a company’s needs.

For the 6-12 months that an Interim Manager is typically in place they work at the complete disposal of the company, taking on operational responsibility within the framework of a well-defined assignment – whilst working as a self-employed person.

Daniel O’Leary, Business Director at Robert Walters, comments: “With continued uncertainty surrounding market conditions, companies have delayed long-term commitments and instead looked at bringing in the specialist skills of Interim Managers.

“Whilst the initial shock of lockdown significantly reduced interim recruitment, hiring has started to pick-up at the senior end of the market in direct response to Covid-19, where companies have been quick to leverage on interim crisis management and transformation expertise – particularly in areas such as financial management, budgeting, HR, legal, digital transformation and cyber security – which has pushed day rates up to the highest we have ever seen in the UK.

“As businesses transition from crisis management to business continuity, we expect there to be continuing demand from organisations considering interim professionals as a key strategic advisor.”

With demand at decade-high peak for Interim Managers, senior professionals within this space can expect little downtime between projects – with 59% predicted to find their next interim management assignment in less than 3 months, twice as quickly as normal.

Not surprisingly, the most common interim assignments carried out in 2020 have been organisational restructuring & crisis management (28%), performance profitability improvement (22%), and implementation & redesign of new systems (14%).

Craig Howells, Senior Consultant at Robert Walters, comments: “Demand has been particularly notable for interims with M&A experience, where Private Equity Firms and competitive companies have been keen to capitalise on market changes, and effectively ‘jump’ on the successes or downturn of other companies.”

Top 5 most expensive Interim Managers in UK:

  • Director of Internal Audit: £2,000 p/d
  • Chief Information Security Officer: £1,725 p/d
  • Transformation & Change Director: £1,600 p/d
  • General Counsel: £1,200 p/d
  • Chief Financial Officer: £1,110 p/d

Despite being paid generously for their level of experience, money is not the primary driver for Interim Managers – with only 16% selecting a project based on the daily rate offered.

In fact, it is the type of assignment (51%) and the company situation or strategic project at stake (21%) which interim professionals consider more closely when selecting projects.

Craig Howells adds: “The mindset of an interim professional is very different to that of a permanent employee – in that they bring in a blue-sky thinking perspective – an outlook that is difficult to attain from employees who are busy doing the ‘day job.’

“The most interesting thing as we enter into a peak in demand for highly qualified senior professionals is that this is the youngest cohort of interims ever – with 1 in 3 being under the age of 50 – meaning that key drivers for job satisfaction is likely to have changes beyond just renumeration.”

Over three quarters (78%) of senior professionals surveyed by Robert Walters stated that they would prefer to carry out interim management assignments over finding a permanent job. Citing the opportunity to work with different organisations, flexibility to choose assignments, ability to make an immediate impact, and independence when working for a company as the top reasons to carry out interim assignments.

Interim Management Job Satisfaction Drivers:

  • Trust given by the board – 48%
  • Independence and autonomy – 39%
  • Exciting projects – 38%
  • Work-life balance – 31%