Growing old gracefully?

Mar 04 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

By the end of 2003, over a tenth of directors in the UK Employment Agencies industry will be over 60 years old, according to a new analysis of UK company directors.

The study by Plimsoll Publishing analysed 5353 directors in the Employment Agencies industry. It found that 1286 "baby boomers" of the 1940's or before, born in post-war England, have been the backbone of the recruitment industry for more than 30 years. But with so many years of accumulated wisdom and experience, the question is who will succeed them?

"Directors are staying at their company out of necessity, pride and even enjoyment,” said David Pattison, analyst at Plimsoll. “Yet there is no doubt that many of these 'baby boomers' are at crossroads in their lives. It has certainly been a factor driving current acquisition activity."

The industry’s aging Directors fall into three major categories, says Pattison.

The millionaires club : The analysis names 195 companies run by 1940's directors that if these companies were sold all of these companies would net over £1 million. "It's a tempting prospect for someone thinking of his or her retirement fund. This is quite a door opener for a potential acquirer," says Pattison.

Struggling on: The analysis also names 47 companies driven by 1940's directors that are going through a period of distress. All of these companies are loss making and all are taking on extra debts. Is it understandable for these directors to bow out or are they up for one more challenge in their illustrious careers?

Beyond retirement : The analysis also names 238 directors who are working beyond the age of 65. Perhaps they agree with the recent study by the Department for Work and Pensions that suggested if you continue working after retirement then you are healthier, wealthier and happier. Certainly some of these directors must be pleased that their companies made healthy profits last year. Age it seems is no barrier to success.

So what can the industry offer the next generation of leaders?

  • Average salary last year was £71K
  • Average salaries actually fell by 2%
  • Top earners can see salaries of around £163K - This compares with the UK top earners average of £150K
  • Average time at the same company is now over 5 years - This compares with the UK average of just over 7 years

The industry it seems, can afford competitive salaries. Yet this may not be enough to encourage sibling retention and tempt new blood into an industry that becomes more competitive every year.

With over a quarter of companies in the industry loss making, and with a market growth of 11 per cent, the industry attracted 1196 new directors over the past 2 years. The challenges these new directors will face are varied:

  • 36 directors must radically cut costs
  • 141 directors must kick-start their companies commercially
  • 55 directors must boost profitability
  • 51 directors must eliminate the competition through acquisition

The full analysis of the top 1000 UK companies in the Employment Agencies industry including the 5353 directors behind them is available from Plimsoll Publishing for £365.00. You can call Plimsoll for more information or to order this analysis on 01642 626400 or visit their website

Management-issues readers will receive a 5% discount when mentioning this article upon ordering.