Thavy Read
Aug 5, 2010

Is it easy to move from agency to client side?

The simple answer is yes, but making smart career moves and having the correct profile is key to making the transition, says Thavy Read, sales and marketing practice head at Talent2 in Hong Kong.

Is it easy to move from agency to client side?

It’s a question that has been asked by many agency candidates. Is it plausible and is the grass is greener on the other side? This move is not for everyone but for those who desire it, this article is to give you some insights into what would enable you to obtain a role on the client side.

Ask me how it was 10 to 15 years ago, I would say that Asia was a hardship posting and to relocate here, substantial expat packages were needed to entice talent to uproot their family and make the move.

Ask me how it is now and I would have to say that Asia is by far the most desirable place to broaden your horisons, to develop your career and to live a fulfilling and privileged life. 

The transition from an agency to the client side is possible and we do see people make the cross over but there are is a variety of criteria that make it easier.

If you are a shop that tries to be a jack-of-all-trades, the transition to the client side will be much more difficult. However those who find the transition easier are often people who specialise in the type of work they do and the types of clients they work for.  

We all know that when a person embarks on a new career, developing skills sets in different areas are an advantage, but as we get on with our career, those who become specialists in a particular field are the ones that are the most sought after.

For example if you are someone that solely specialises in advertising or PR within financial services, the opportunity to cross over to the client side in that particular sector is quite high. Specialisation in a particular area is key to obtaining that client side role you desire.

Networking your way across to that sector is another smart way of getting what you want. There are plenty of industry specific associations that would enable you to meet the right contacts.

Agency candidates often tend to be restless with a history of moving from agency to agency within short periods of time. This should definitely be avoided as it does not reflect postively. Employers want commitment and loyality in the employees that they hire. Since the financial crisis this has been an increasingly important hiring factor. Candidates who are stable are the ones that get the roles and a healthy increase when they make the move.

In an English speaking market like the UK, US and Australia these factors would be enough to make that transition but at the end of the day we are living in Asia and the need for language skills is still crucial. Client side teams are often lean so depending on the market and key audience, lack of language skills could be a hindrance for some candidates. 

Don’t fret, although the transition isn’t as easy as you might think, it’s never too late to start planning and taking the right steps to achieve your goal.

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