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In Touch Networks

In Touch Networks logo

Manchester-headquartered In Touch Networks is turning the recruitment model on its head by leveraging technology to change the way companies hire non-executive directors (NEDs), consultants finance directors and obtain investment. Its market-leading platforms eliminates costs for employers looking to connect directly with the best talent, while offering job-seeking members access to exclusive vacancies and the ability to build online and offline networks.

“Companies looking to hire non-execs have typically faced prohibitively expensive recruitment fees, especially if they’re small and medium-sized business,” explains Matthew Roberts, CEO of In Touch Networks. “We list thousands of available roles for free and employers are free to contact our thousands of members.”

The business was originally the brainchild of headhunter Ian Wright and started as a simple list of non-executive candidates that his corporate clients could access for a small fee. Sensing an opportunity to disrupt the market, he partnered with Matthew, a former marketing consultant, and successful businessman John Laithwaite, to develop a new model and turbo charge the business, branching into related services and other career specialisms.

“We started allowing organisations to post their roles on the website, and thousands came on board to be part of our member network,” says Matthew. “They pay an annual membership fee and receive a full online profile, so any organisation can approach them for no cost. This means we attract the best off-market opportunities without recruitment fees cutting into a candidates’ remuneration.”

Starting with just 200 members two years ago, the business has seen its membership grow to over 26,000 today and has a current renewal rate of 87%. In Touch members gain access to hundreds of exclusive, unadvertised jobs every month and are able to build a reputation through a strong presence in an active network.

More recently however, the business has become more than just a recruitment platform and is increasingly looking to help its members to learn, develop and succeed professionally.

“A lot of our members have been in the corporate world all their lives and may have never written a CV, done an interview, built an online brand or know how to be a successful NED,” says Matthew. “We offer them a wide range of training programmes led by our curriculum director and award winning author Anne Watson and these are becoming a key feature of our business.”

This is particularly true for aspiring non-executives, says Matthew, who are being expected to perform a more strategic role than ever before.

“NEDs have traditionally been on the board to look at things from a compliance and corporate governance perspective,” he says. “But if you want to grow, diversify and expand a business, you need the advice of people who have been there and done that.”

With networks running in the UK and in the US, as well as recently opened offices in New York, In Touch Networks has also become a global business with 72 employees.

“The US is an extremely promising market and we now have three full time people at our New York office,” he explains. “There are more NEDs located in Manhattan than in the UK. Another key statistic is that by 2020 25% of Americans are expected to be self-employed. They will therefore be looking for guidance on how to set up an organisation, set up email accounts and have access to the best opportunities – that is the space we want to be in.”

Matthew attributes the company’s success to having been able to find and hold on to great people. He singles out the work of Membership Director David Wheatcroft, Marketing Director Chris Trimble and his business partner John.

“David has brought unbelievable energy and enthusiasm to the business, while John is one of the top businessmen in the country and a great sounding board for me.”

Employees are motivated by being in a company they can own and make a difference in, says Matthew, which is why they offer shares to everyone who has been at the business for more than 18 months. He also favours people who have worked with the business before in some capacity. “We do a lot of training, but it’s great to hire people who can hit the ground running,” he says.

In the months ahead, Matthew’s focus will be on expanding its recently launched Investor Director network, building on its success in New York, and prioritising growth in other geographies.