Brexit pushing up demand for interims

By James Hunt, pictured below, Director of Interim, Green Park

The Brexit buzzword du jour has been “uncertainty” and this has resulted in a strong new dynamic in recruitment, as the demand for interim executives has increased markedly.

Employers are still speculating over how life outside the EU will change British business, the terms that employers can expect to adhere to and how much leaving the EU is actually going to cost businesses, in terms of profit but also people.

Firms want to retain flexibility in their cost bases, but are balancing this with the need to mitigate for the unknown changes Brexit negotiations may result in. Consequently, interims are being relied on as a safety net of knowledge.

Organisations that will be successful are those that are developing a range of contingency strategies, for various scenarios based on all potential outcomes of Brexit negotiations. In particular, firms need to be reviewing current structures and processes in terms of the right sizing operations, possible contract renegotiations, in-shoring and a shift or change in management.

There has been a measurable rise in the demand for interim (30%) over the past few months and the need for interim CFOs and CTOs is only increasing. Uncertainty around major outcomes such as whether there will be limited free movement of professionals between the remaining 27 EU countries and the UK; whether multiple financial services companies will move their HQs from London to alternative cities; and whether international M&A activity begins to leave the UK out of the equation, it’s far from being the right time to turn the talent management and recruitment tap off.

As firms endure a potentially rocky transition period, the dependency on interims allows for them to have a ‘wait and see’ approach as they remain assured by having top level expertise on board to advise and direct the organisation. Interims are becoming more popular during this course of uncertainty as they can ensure the very best level of knowledge without having to commit and invest long-term at a time when their financial security is potentially at risk.

Despite this lack of contracted long term investment, interims are highly respected and valued due to their experience and specialist knowledge.  Those with experience of project management to effect business change in response to regulation are particularly in demand. The impact Brexit may have on an organisation is heavily dependent on the decisions being made now. Interim candidates that have overseen complex risk and compliance programmes are in a strong position with the proficiency to know what these are and put the plans in place to cover all outcomes.

In addition, we are seeing firms utilise this as an opportunity to boost diversity in their workplace, given this may again be impacted by Brexit.  Firms that recognise the value of diversity are taking the opportunity to change the face of their organisations, broadening recruitment pools to bring new experience and outlooks into their business, which will be crucial in a post Brexit environment.

Organisations need to ensure they are armed with the short term, specialist skills needed through the use of interims as and when they are required, otherwise there is a big chance they may miss an important opportunity to secure their foot hold in the market completely.