According to WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell, agency consolidation "has got to happen" and if anyone should know it's him.
He made the statement in reference to the need for agencies to show client procurement departments that they are making the absolute most of the budgets they are provided, leaving little room for any 'fat'.
It's likely that we will see a lot of merger and acquisition activity completed in the run in to the election as well, as companies attempt to avoid being stung by the introduction of the Entrepreneurs' Relief tax.
Next week at Agency Acceleration Day I’m hosting a panel on ‘How to Grow’, so ahead of the event I asked everyone registered to find out which questions they’d like answered – and I was taken aback by the breadth of knowledge that agency leaders are seeking.
- Geographical growth – How do you manage that process in terms of setting up, and then acquiring staff and clients?
- International expansion – What are the right indicators to set up overseas? How do you manage that process in terms of setting up, and then acquiring staff and clients? How do you get your money back to the UK?
- Approach to investment – When is the optimal time to invest in new staff or services – when an opportunity is in the bag or when it’s looking likely? How long is reasonable to expect a return on investment?
- Forecasting – How do you forecast accurately and what percentage of sales should be reinvested back in the business for R&D?
- Team development – Skills, personal development management, growth and retention.
- Senior management – How do you structure reporting lines, responsibilities and focus?
- Maintaining culture – How do you grow without losing the soul of the agency? How do you create a growth culture?
Fortunately we will be putting these questions to three people who have achieved growth in different ways, as I will be joined by Neil Miller (CEO, POSSIBLE UK), Alex Myers (MD, Manifest London) and Chris Bishop (CEO and founder, 7thingsmedia).
If this is any indication of the scale of the ambition of UK agencies, then I am greatly encouraged about the future of our industry here.
Diane Young is co-founder and managing director of The Drum. Agency Acceleration Day takes place in central London on 7 May. The last few tickets are available here.