A frequent question for the UK Interim profession is how will COVID impact day rates, Guy Herbertson from Boyden offers his insights.

By Guy Herbertson
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A question all of us within the Boyden Interim team are being asked by our network is how are interim day rates being influenced by COVID.

COVID has impacted economies, individuals and organisations in ways that we could not have anticipated at the start of 2020. Interim Management of course has not been immune to this with many formerly permanent candidates now considering interim as a career option potentially flooding the market and with IR35 to contend with in 2021, it is not easy.

I would start however, by saying interim rates are continuously challenged regardless of the economic challenges and now is no different. Interim can be misconstrued as an expensive resource and value is regularly tested. This means that now, more than ever, every interim must be clear on what their value proposition is in order to show the return on a company’s investment.

In some circumstances, this is easy to do. If you can show multi-million pounds of savings from a 9 months assignment or winning a multi-million pound project the organisation could not achieve without your assistance the value is clear.

However, regularly interims are under-appreciated. Often significant changes made do not necessarily showing immediate significant monetary value. When you consider an organisational restructure or a long term strategic plan being created the instantaneous impact is less obvious.

To overcome this it is critical to analyse each assignment you take on, create clear objectives at the start and clearly show their completion and over achievement at the end. This creates a case study and compelling argument to show your value when discussing rates. Referees are also critical in this process so I would have them primed.

IR35 is also due to impact the private sector once again in April 2021. The ambiguity in Q1 of 2020 gave us a preview to what this might look like, but I do hope the majority of businesses are now aware of their obligations. At Boyden we found a robust system using Qdos for underwritten IR35 assessments giving objective decisions to our clients, this has remained for us and allowed us to educate clients and de-risk their interim hires.  

IR35 will undoubtedly impact some interim assignments in the private sector and I believe organisations will have to adapt their expectations on rate for roles deemed inside IR35. If clients do not they their talent pool with be significantly reduced. As we know, a blanket inside IR35 assessment is detrimental to all parties.

When it comes to rates for my network of executives in transformation and turnaround that have secured roles during this period, I have not seen a significant drop in the rates and do not anticipate one.

This could be down to many factors but given organisations current situation people will often rely on individuals they know and trust to get the job done, therefore are comfortable to pay the rates demanded. Working with your own personal network and through providers who are trusted advisors to clients is going to be critical in this phase of change.

This period of likely job losses will create noise in the interim market, however within your proven interim experience already established you should stand out from the crowd if you can show your value within each time bound assignment.

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