Jim Dyer

The future of account management


"We're the most important department in an agency"

It's time that account management got its mojo back, writes the head of client leadership at Wunderman Thompson

By Jim Dyer

The challenges facing the account management discipline are the same as those facing the industry at large. How do we ensure we’re seen as trusted partners to our clients? How can we make this industry an attractive one for new talent? How do we make work that will get the nation talking?

A strong, motivated account management department is just as crucial to the growth and happiness of any agency as its ever been. And much like the rest of the industry, we just need to get our mojo back.

If we want our industry to appeal to a more diverse talent pool than ever before, it’s crucial that we showcase how our leadership aren’t always drawn from the same pot of people. Some of the most capable commercial minds I’ve worked with have been creatives or planners – there shouldn’t be a law that the CEO is a suit by trade.

This doesn’t detract from the influence account management wields within an agency; in fact, for me it shows that the agency is serious about ensuring we have different voices making decisions. An agency being run by a planner or creative will probably also appreciate that good account managers can be as strategically or creatively strong as any planner or CD.

There’s been a lot written recently about the death of the suit in our industry. As you’d probably expect, I find this incredibly frustrating when I hear it. Our CCO Steve Aldridge said to me when I started at WT that account management is the most important department in the agency, and I agree with him. We’re uniquely placed to understand our clients problems, how best to solve them utilising the talent and tools at our disposal, and how to set the culture and tone within the agency itself.

As budgets become more challenging, the role of account management is under more scrutiny than ever. However, as a discipline we should take this additional scrutiny around our role as a positive challenge. Clients want the most talented people at their disposal – as the individuals who spend most time with our clients, account management have a unique opportunity to showcase their strategic, creative and partnering skills whenever they can.

Jim Dyer is head of client leadership at Wunderman Thompson

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