A new IPA report published today has explored the role of account management in today’s agency landscape to identify three immediate actions to ensure it maintains its relevance and value.
The research was carried out by strategic brand consultancy Hall & Partners who interviewed over 30 client and agency leads for their views and recommendations. From the detailed discussions, the report sets out: the urgent need for change within the discipline that has been made even more immediate by Covid-19; the risks of account management being squeezed out of the business; the sense that account management has lost its focus and definition of its role to both clients and procurement; and the core skills and qualities of effective account managers.
Crucially, following this investigation, the report sets out three immediate actions for account management to thrive:
1) Celebrate and value the role
- Understand and value the return on relationships not just the return on investment
- Build a better understanding with procurement
- Celebrate the best in class relationship builder
2) Recruit the best talent for the future
- Broaden the talent pool for a more diverse array of talent, skills, experience and thinking
- Understand the long-term payback of a diverse and inclusive recruitment strategy
3) Invest in and develop the talent we have
- Rebooting the classic skills that clients feel they are missing and embrace new ones
- Encourage account managers to take control of their career and development.
Ed Palmer, co-chair of the IPA Client Relationship Group and MD, St Luke’s, said: “Over the past few years, and especially these last few months, there’s been much debate about the future of agencies, as we’ve been facing into the opportunities and challenges of technology disruption, new competitors and more recently of course, coronavirus. But the IPA’s Client Relationship Group felt the role of account handling as a discipline has not really been a part of that debate. Until now. We hope the learnings from this study help to showcase the value this discipline can bring in creating better outcomes for clients and agencies.”
Co-chair of the IPA Client Relationship Group and MD VML/Y&R UK, Amanda Farmer, added: “This report has uncovered some harsh but vital truths and important recommendations about the discipline. For me, the key learnings are that client-agency relationships are more important than ever and that account handlers have a critical role to play, that self-development is going to be vital this year, and that diversity is crucial. By taking action on these areas we really can help ourselves and our clients to prosper.”
To address some of the recommendations, the IPA has a wealth of available and upcoming resources for account managers, including:
- The Client Relationship Networker – an online forum to share ideas, content and events.
- Future IPA training models will support the career path of account handlers, culminating in a new MBA to be launched in September 2020.
- An upcoming IPA Client Relationship Group study into how we can tangibly measure ‘Return on Relationships’
- An upcoming new best practice guide, in partnership with CIPS, about how to work better with procurement
Download the report ‘The Future of Account Management’ from the IPA website