During 2017 we have seen a significant increase in the demand for interim expertise on a part time basis, often referred to as “Portfolio” Interim Director .
Britain is seen as providing one of the strongest environments in Europe in which to establish and grow a business. We are a nation of innovators and entrepreneurs and as a country we are fortunate in having access to innovative finance and flexible labour laws.
The wide array of financing possibilities for businesses enables many small and medium sized organisations to grow at a faster rate than ever before. Our private equity sector is the most vibrant in Europe as evidenced by the fact that more than one third of company buyouts in Europe took place in the UK last year.
Our employment market changed dramatically post-recession, which ultimately led to the Matthew Taylor review in 2017 and a greater variety of common employment statuses have emerged in the last decade.
Interestingly the report captures many factors that are driving the growth of the interim portfolio marketplace. Fortunately our flexible labour laws are a major factor in helping to accelerate the growth of small businesses.
“The UK is widely recognised as having one of the most flexible labour markets in the world. The UK is rated as having the 5th most efficient labour market in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016-17, behind only Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and the United States. Flexible labour markets tend to enjoy higher employment rates and lower unemployment than those with more rigid approaches and – as CBI research from 2014 shows – over many decades, they have better protected the labour share and delivered more real terms wage growth than more rigid systems. This is why flexibility matters. At this international level, the UK’s participation rate is stronger than both the EU and OECD averages, and the UK performs better than both the US and France, despite the level of labour market regulation being much lighter than France, and slightly more strict than the US. The UK also outperforms both countries in employment rate terms” (Matthew Taylor review).
Portfolio Interim Directors are able to offer an interim solution from one day a month. This enables business to access on a part time basis high calibre professionals who would normally be unaffordable full time. As businesses grow, Portfolio Interims can be highly beneficial, providing hands on expertise when it’s needed. Typically these Interims are engaged alongside a management team, coaching and mentoring. Different types of skillsets can be utilised as a business grows.
Prior sector knowledge is normally essential to ensure that the business can obtain instant value from the Interim Director. Portfolio Interims will normally have built up a demonstrable track record already as a full time Interim and so can transition into this space very effectively. The nonexecutive director community is often attracted to this style of engagement which gives them the flexibility to focus on their NED commitments.
The Portfolio Interims by virtue build up a range of clients and typically they will work with organisations which are on a similar journey and as a result they build up specialist knowledge. Typical assignments include re-financing, mergers & acquisitions, outsourcing, product launches, GDPR, TUPE, category management best practice. The portfolio space is dominated by Interim Finance Directors who are essentially competing with the professional services market, closely followed by HR Directors, IT Directors, Marketing Directors and Procurement Directors.
The market has traditionally been driven through recommendations, however as the demand has increased, organisations look to Interim providers to widen the reach with more exact requirements around sector and specialist knowledge to substitute skills gaps in management teams. Looking ahead into 2018, many have mixed emotions about Brexit, the perceived pros and cons and whether it’s good or bad is a never ending debate. However, there is an optimism amongst entrepreneurs which sets us apart. This optimism and “can do” attitude is what knits us together, we are a nation of winners and we’ve always punched above our weight globally.
As the UK pulls together to take on other major economies, has Brexit forced the UK into becoming a more “United” Kingdom again, and a more coherent team?
As an Interim Provider we have a crucial part to play in this. We must ensure that UK SMEs understand that they can access individuals that can help take their businesses to the next level, driving growth and sustainability.