One of the key benefits of working with the London Office of Valtus, the European market leader in Interim & Transition Management, is that we get the opportunity to help clients solve problems ‘cross-border’. This might be working with a UK-based client with interests overseas but, increasingly, it means working with European businesses who need help and support here in the UK.
Brexit has a lot to do with this. Whereas, in previous times, a business might have ‘exported’ a rising star, a trusted Interim Manager or established consulting partner, this is now virtually impossible. If the individual concerned doesn’t have either a UK or Irish passport, getting a visa quickly enough to fix an urgent problem is generally impossible. As far as our current government would put it, ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and there is little chance of utilising a European national to fix a UK issue.
Fortunately, the UK Interim Management market is, in many ways, the most mature of any in the world. European clients are often surprised (and delighted) to find that, for many situations, they will get a strong choice of Interim Managers, and that they also might be able to find talent here that they couldn’t find at home e.g. ESG, Digital, Sales, etc.
Interim Management is a preferred career choice for many senior leaders here in the UK, and this has a bearing on the breadth and quality of managers available.
It also has a bearing on pricing. The laws of supply and demand do not apply to UK managers compared to their European compatriots and, typically, they will charge around 25-30% more than in France, for example. Generally, the cost of living is higher here, and permanent salary packages also reflect this. Even Brexit fanatics would be hard pressed to claim that our departure from the EU has had a positive effect on prices!
Generally securing Interim Management talent is easier in the UK, but European clients sometimes get confused by the UK taxation relating to it. This isn’t their fault, as a good proportion of UK clients also find it difficult to understand, particularly when it comes to the HMRC’s ‘notorious’ IR35 statute. This determines the rate of tax an Interim Manager pays and, hence, influences the charge to the Client. Despite the thousands of web posts which say otherwise, it is actually quite easy to support a Client through this and we do so regularly. It is about common sense, transparency and filling in a form properly!
The final difference that many European clients observe is that the UK Interim Management market can seem more ‘transactional’ than they have been used to, especially when compared to France and Germany. This is often fair comment. While mature in terms of the availability of Managers, most Interim Management providers here in the UK offer little more than an ‘introduction service’, without the added value that we at Valtus see as core to our offering. In this respect, our proposition here is ‘disruptive’ and, for UK Clients, quite unexpected.
At Valtus, we are committed to doing the right thing by our Clients and our Interim Managers, not the expected thing.
Steve Rutherford is a Partner in the London Office of Valtus. If you are trying to fix a problem or secure talent across international boundaries then contact us here.