Interim IIM survey

Interim work: why the IIM Survey is more important than you think

Sally Wilson, (Senior Consultant, Interim Leadership) shares sector insights, why the IIM Survey is far more than a popularity contest, and how it’s a fantastic research tool for all Interims.

Interim work: why the IIM Survey is more important than you think


Sally Wilson GatenbySanderson

“As the Institute of Interim Management (IIM) launches its 15th annual survey in what will be my 20th year in recruitment I have spent some time reflecting on what supporting the IIM means to me and what changes I have seen during the past 12 months that may impact this year’s results.”

Sally Wilson – Senior Consultant, Interim Leadership, GatenbySanderson.


For anyone who is new to the industry or who hasn’t completed this survey before here is an overview for you.

In April of every year, the IIM launches its annual survey to gain insight into the industry. Last year over 2000 interims gave 20-30 mins of their time to share their experiences of the sector. This information is then analysed and published as a report covering everything from; who are you, what do you do and how do you secure your work.

The survey changes every year so that it can gain insights on what’s important to the sector right now and is recognised as the most comprehensive and prestigious insight into the Interim Management market.

2023 was a year dominated by social and economic challenges. As last years survey went out we were experiencing the impact of Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget, the loss of a Monarch and a devastating war in Ukraine.
As the 2024 survey goes out we are in a similar position. Political change looming both locally and nationally, the continued war in Ukraine, the Gaza conflict and a Monarch and future Queen facing serious health conditions.


Are we likely to see similar results in this years survey due to the similarities between 2023-24?

Whilst the survey can in part be seen as a popularity contest for service providers and consultants to be recognised as one of the top providers, I like to take time to reflect on the findings in the survey and use it as a barometer for where the market is as a whole and how this compares to what I am seeing as a Interim recruiter within the Local Government sector. I would recommend that individual interims do the same particularly around the key areas of; what skill set areas are most in demand, is the interim market improving, how are people securing opportunities and is the ‘typical interim’ changing?

I will take a moment to expand on my personal reflections for each of these areas and what changes I expect to see in the 2024 results.


What skills sets are in demand?

In 2023 the 5 most in demand skill set areas were;

  • Change and Transformation (18.4%)
  • Programme and Project Management (12.9%)
  • Accountancy and Finance (11.7%)
  • Board/ General Management (9%)
  • HR (7.5%)

These 4 functional disciplines accounted for 60% of all roles.

I am very interested to see how this changes in the 2024 survey as our Local Government practice saw a decrease in Change/ Transformation and Project and Programme Management assignments as organisations deemed these as ‘nice to have’ or ‘none core’ roles due to increased budget pressures.

What we saw instead was an increase in board/ operational roles that included the delivery of a transformation programme/ Project as part of the deliverables. Many of our network found this challenging as although many of them had held core leadership roles previously, many of them had focused on project and programme delivery for a number of years and didn’t have the recent experience to draw upon during interview/ application processes.

We also saw a decrease in the number of Outside IR35 roles as a result.


The Finance skill set dominated the 2023 market for our Local Government practice as councils struggled to balance their books and senior Finance professionals (section 151 officers) retired/ moved on. I expect to see the Accountancy and Finance discipline to increase in this years survey.

HR has also been a busy area for the sector as equal pay, restructures and workforce planning has been needed across the sector. As well as Housing due to the impact of the regulatory changes that come into effect this month.

I expect to see HR and general management/ operations to increase as a result. However as Local Government only accounts for 22% of the market these effects may not been seen in the results.

Is the interim market improving?

As an interim recruiter in the Public Sector we are constantly hearing that the market is getting worse, the number of opportunities is decreasing and budgets are reducing. However when you look at 2023 stats the Public Sector increased its market share to 37%. When we compare this to 2011 (the furthest the stats go back) and the start of austerity the market has increased from 29%.
This suggests that austerity hasn’t impacted the interim Public Sector negatively.

Day rate averages have increased £680 in 2023, up from £656 in 2022. I expect these to go up further in 2024 as the supply of interims has gone down and interims have increased their rates as a result.

The average length of assignment has increased to 9.7 months and the gaps between assignments has gone down from 3 months to 2.6 months. I expect these gaps to go down further in 2024 as I have increasingly seen interims stacking assignments (winding one contract down and starting another concurrently). This is another sign that the supply of interims has gone down and therefore organisations are willing to wait for the right person.


How are people securing assignments?

2023 saw a decreased in the number of interims securing 1 or more assignments directly (58% in 2022 to 55% in 2023), and an increase in interims securing 1 or more assignments through a 3rd party (73% in 2022 to 77% in 2023).

As more Local Authorities source interims through MSP type arrangements I would expect to see a continued decrease in the number of assignments secured directly.
What I would expect to see, but unlikely to be picked up in the survey is an increase in interims securing assignment through management consultancies as associates/ white labelled arrangements. As Local Authorities decrease the number of project and programme management roles through interim arrangements I would expect to see an increase in management consultancy spend as they procure change and transformation through this route instead.


Is the ‘typical interim’ changing?

Given the conversations I’ve had and the observations I have made I am really interested to see what changes to the typical interim there have been in 2024. In 2023 we saw great improvements in the alignment of the typical interim to the UKs diversity stats. 15.8% of respondents identifying as non white, which is very close to the UK census results where 18% belong to Black, Asian or other ethnic group.

We also saw improvements in the percentage of women in interim roles (30% up from 29.5% in 2022) but this is sadly still a long way from the UK average where 40% hold a board role in the FTSE 350 and 51% of the population identify as female. I hope to see this increase further but looking at my personal placement stats I worry that it will remain the same.


Where I expect to see further change this year is the average age of the typical interim.

Last year we saw that drop from 54.9 years in 2022 to 53.7 in 2023. In a post-Covid world I have witnessed a change in people’s approach to work. Fewer people I approach following retirement wish to consider an interim career, instead preferring to focus on technical assessor roles and NED portfolios.

I have also seen an increase in people at Senior Management level and above (in Local Government I would deem this Head of Service level and above) leaving their permanent roles to pursue a career in interim management. Many of those individuals have made that change as they saw this as a way to develop their careers by gaining experience of different organisations and further exposure to transformation.

We have also seen more Interims make the move to permanent positions as organisations see the value of hiring individuals with the breadth of experience that interim management brings.


As I enter my 20th year in recruitment and the IIM completes its 15th Survey I would like to thank everyone involved in completing and collating this information. Working as an interim can be an isolating profession but information like this helps everyone know where they are and how their experiences compare to others. It also helps people see their value and supports difficult conversations around pay and duration.

I look forward to reading the results later in the year.


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GatenbySanderson are the leading Executive Search, Interim and Leadership Development Consultancy across public services, and one of the largest consultancy firms in the UK. Contact us for more information

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