THE COMPANY

Our client is a professional services company with nine Account Managers.

The Account Manager’s role was a mix of meetings with clients, visiting client’s premises, completing various professional work for said clients and significant volumes of necessary admin around such work.

THE PROBLEM

The owner of the company estimated that approximately 30% of the Account Manager’s time involved meetings or direct with the clients and the rest communication was desk based. During the pandemic, the business managed to continue operating with very little impact to its services even though all of the staff were working remotely.

Prior to the pandemic and again since restrictions have been eased, the salary requirements for professional staff in their industry have increased and the company is struggling to fill two of its vacancies. Several of the remaining staff are hinting at pay increases. Historically the company has used various recruitment agencies but has had mixed results including several disastrous appointments.

OUR SOLUTION

The company documented all the tasks that Account Managers undertake for their client base. They identified which of those tasks involved direct client contact and put those tasks into an order based on their technical difficulty.

The tasks were then split into two different elements with the direct client facing work and the more difficult aspects of the role being allocated to a Senior Account Manager role and the remaining tasks (all of which are desk based) being allocated to a new role called Accounts Assistant.

The two most senior Account Managers were asked to undertake a pilot project.

They were allocated new clients from one of the Account Managers who had just left and were also allocated a dedicated Accounts Assistant to enable them to deal with a greater number of clients whilst training their assistant.

The Accounts Assistant was based in an office in Durban, South Africa and had the company’s handset from the company’s telephone system on their desk meaning that internal calls could be made between the two individuals. Furthermore, both parties were encouraged to communicate using Microsoft Teams and had cameras on their monitors.

The company recognised early on that its internal filing system for documents was haphazard and each Account Manager had their own way of doing things. A filing structure was designed for each client file in order that everyone would know how to find documentation relatively easily. Improvements were made to the company’s CRM package in order that every client showed who was the Account Manager and who was the Account Assistant.

THE COSTS

The costs of recruitments in South Africa are as follows:

  1. Initial advertising position fee – £500. This fee applies whether the company takes on no new employees, one or unlimited numbers.
  2. A recruitment fee of 2% of the employee’s salary for each of the first completed six months of employment. In other words, if the employee leaves before the end of the first month there will be no recruitment fee. If they left after one month the recruitment fee would be 2%.
  3. £450 per month per employee which covers management time, IT cost, rent of desk and all costs associated with that employee in South Africa.

THE RESULTS

The two Account Managers on the pilot project were given an immediate pay rise for taking on a larger client base and supervising an assistant.

The average salary for an Account Manager prior to the changes was 35K. The two (now) Senior Account Managers initially received an increase in pay to 37.5K and with a target for their salary to increase to 40K as soon as their assistant was working efficiently and the client base that they were running between them had doubled in size. This was achieved within four months.

It was explained to the remaining Account Managers that their jobs were in effect a mix of Account Manager and Account Assistant. Therefore, their salary was an average of the two different pay rates.

All of the other Account Managers have been encouraged to start making the changes to their way of working with a few to them taking on an assistant as the workload of the company increases.

The salary rates in South Africa for a similar job are approximately 60% of the ones in the UK but a decision was made to set salary levels at 75% of what would be paid in the UK.

This therefore gave the company a cost reduction but also allowed them to employ a higher level of staff for those roles. Furthermore, there are no Employer’s National Insurance or auto-enrolment costs in South Africa.

The company has no intention of moving all its support operations to South Africa and will continue with a hybrid model of UK based workers and South African support staff. However, it has temporarily solved the staffing problems that it had, reduced the stress levels of the existing staff and made them more competitive in terms of salaries.

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Malcolm Palmer

FCA

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01474 853856

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