< Back to news

Where have all of the account managers gone?

By Simon on

The latest Apple tech. Tickets to Glastonbury 2019. Account managers.

What do they all have in common?…

….They’re like gold dust. Pure 24-carat gold, gold dust.

The account manager role is a key position within most agencies, whether that’s PR, marketing, digital, brand or advertising agencies, the role exists in one form or another.

Sitting above executives, but below directors, account managers are one of the valuable cogs that help keep everything ticking in agency life.

They lead account teams and make sure work is delivered, results are achieved and shape strategies, while inspiring and motivating their execs, who will one day either join their side, or even, step into their shoes at some point. And that’s just a fragment of what happens behind agency doors, from an external perspective, they’re one of the main faces of the accounts, meeting and dealing with clients on an almost daily basis.

Are you starting to see why we hold AMs in such high esteem?

But for all the love we have for them (and there really is plenty more where that came from), we’re a bit concerned about our beloved AMs. You see…they’re a (** deep gulp**) dying breed that’s on the verge of extinction.

Or are they?

You see, the agency scene has always been thriving in Manchester and Brum and we’d like to say nothing’s changed there. So, where have all of the account managers gone?

Have they been sucked into an account manager black hole located between both cities – most probably around Stoke-on-Trent or Stafford according to our AM radar – never to be seen again?

Because when we’re recruiting for account managers, candidates for these hugely responsible and incredibly rewarding roles are a rare sight to behold. In fact, we have to pinch ourselves when we find one, just to make sure we’re not dreaming.

So, what’s happened over the years because we know AMs do still exist (just like Father Christmas does, right?!) Here’s what we think:

We hate to dwell on it, but the recession in late 2008, early 2009 created a huge lag. You see, not many agencies recruited at account executive level, which meant candidates weren’t being developed and trained up to become fully-fledged account managers.

The explosion and growth of in-house marketing departments has taken its toll on the situation too. We’re seeing more-and-more opportunities that are offering better salaries and benefits packages, meaning account managers are happy to stay put for longer.

Speaking of salaries, pay is a huge factor. We know you don’t need us to explain why. But what we would say is, some agencies – through no fault of their own – have had to tighten their belts in certain areas. While some AMs have stayed put, others have moved on to places where there’s a bigger wedge to be had.

Then there’s the rise of the different types of agencies, particularly the ‘big media players’, which has meant candidates have greater choice, greater than ever before. In the past, PR and integrated agencies pretty much had carte blanche on the market, but not anymore…

And don’t forget, it’s only been over the last two to three years that universities have started to develop more marketing-specific courses that have more of a digital feel to them. In the process, they’re creating candidates that are more trained and skilled within niche areas.

Still with us? Good, because there are just two final points that we think may have contributed to the AM drought. Hours – agencies are notorious for their long hours and while most are trying to readdress the situation, some staff do make the move to in-house in their quest for a better work-life balance.

Last but not least, everybody’s all fishing in the same pond. And when everybody’s looking for candidates with an agency background it isn’t the biggest pond in the world. More of a paddling pool, we’d say.

We know there are plenty of lesser-spotted AMs out there, but your guess is as good as ours as to where they are. Next time you see one, be sure to take a pic, won’t you?!

In the meantime, if you’re one of those elusive AMs who’s looking for another AM position or a brand new challenge, get in touch with us on 0121 355 0955 or consult@afselection.co.uk.