Interim Management: Is the Crisis Over?
Listening to other managers, I still get the impression that times are tough, in particular with regards to securing ongoing interim management assignments. Nevertheless, looking to the press, the crisis in the interim management sectors seems to fade out with turnover figures and assignment requests slowly but steadily climbing up the ladder again. Working for CEO Worldwide and thus offering interim management, I decided to look a little closer at the situation and picked one of the 169 countries we cover worldwide: Germany
Just a few general figures ahead: Today approximately 5000 interim managers are registered in Germany, with a turnover of 750-800 Million. In terms of development, this means turnover got tenfold within 8 years (80 Million in 2003). Experts believe that the number of interim managers will double within the next 5 years to 10.000. But, compared to other markets this is still rather small. For example Netherlands has only a fifth of the German population and counts 20.000 interim manager already today.
During an interview, the CEO of the German Interim Management Association (DDIM), Jens Christophers, claimed that in the first two months of this year many interim manager received over 50% of the assignment request they had in the entire last year, but, he adds, it is still very hard to get the final contracts signed…
What I found even more interesting is the shift of the assignment types that has been brought by the crisis. In 2008, the most important fields of Interim Management were restructuring/change management and process optimization. According to Mr. Christophers, today, the focus is growth. Another assignment type that is very much in demand, in particular with SMEs, is financial controlling and reporting. This is due to the restrictive behavior of the banks since the crisis – not only they are reluctant to give an urgently needed credit to many SMEs, but they also request extensive reporting and detailed information, often of the sort that a typical German SME will not be able to handle with its existing staff. Historically, many SMEs in Germany employ Finance Directors that have “grown with the company”, starting as accountant some 20 years ago.
This makes them ideally suited for the everyday demands of the business they work in, but at the same time they don’t have the necessary skills and knowledge to cope with the new demands of the bankers. Thus it is not surprising, that some interim management providers in Germany claim that the demand for interim CFOs doubled or even tripled since the beginning of the year. The irony of this is that many of these ailing companies only got into a difficult situation because of the worldwide financial crisis, which was caused by the financial institutions in the first place …
I would be interested to hear if any of you have made different experiences and if the situation in other countries is similar to the one in Germany.
I also invite interim managers to register with our Interim Manager Pool at www.ceo-worldwide.com and any company looking for an interim manager to browse through the Interim Manager Pool within our Executive Search Engine