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How CPD benefits client and agency performance

How CPD benefits client and agency performance
Patrick Mills, IPA Director of Professional Development, looks at how agencies and clients are reaping the benefits of dynamic CPD.

Improved business performance: greater client retention, improvements in margin and profitability, and higher pitcher conversion rates can all be the results of Continuous Professional Development (CPD), explains Patrick Mills, Director of Professional Development, IPA.

You’d never hire a lawyer, an accountant, a surveyor or an architect without an industry qualification.

Indeed it would be worrying to visit a doctor or be operated upon by a surgeon who hasn’t received the appropriate education and got the right qualifications.

Agencies are trusted with enormous budgets by their clients to help grow their brands, so it makes sense that our industry should be professionally qualified.

And while the IPA has now awarded over 10,000 certificates to agency practitioners in the last 10 years the industry only inches forward to the status of a profession.

The commitment to CPD, which was introduced in 2000, is now universal amongst IPA members and in the last 15 of years talent has grown up in a culture of learning and development.

The results of the commitment to CPD speak for themselves with committed agencies benefitting from 85% staff retention, 94% client retention, 20% improvement in margin and 87% positive ratings from clients (source CPD Gold case studies 2013).

However one of the intangible benefits of the introduction of CPD has been the emphasis on the importance of a learning culture.

Sera Miller, CEO of Material, says “Sharing, capturing and developing opportunities will always be the cornerstone of how we achieve our business goals together: the CPD Gold framework gives us the language, understanding and skills to develop them”.

And this is more frequently than ever before manifested through an increased commitment to industry qualifications, as Rob Hunter, MD and founder of Hunterlodge, says “Holding qualifications such as the Eff Test and Advanced Certificate means our staff are hardwired to only suggest creative, media and digital solutions that will generate the highest possible ROI and payback. With business results such as these, it is not hard to see why CPD plays a pivotal role in our business”.

At a recent IPA event to promote CPD and qualifications to recruitment agencies and intermediaries Ros King, CMO of Lloyds Banking Group, made the comment that a commitment to CPD and having qualified staff was not a ‘nice to have’ but a minimum requirement – clients expect this of the agencies they employ.

The exciting news is that the tide has turned.

Since CPD Gold was introduced in 2008 the IPA has been fortunate to enlist a stellar line up of senior client CMOs to chair the panel of judges, and we thank Roisin Donnelly, Angus McIver, Jon White, Peter Markey and Scott Morrison, and welcome Caroline Baldwin to chair the panel for the 2014 submissions.

This has added weight and endorsement of the quality of learning and development in IPA member agencies.

Two recent initiatives have helped give the professional cause a boost:

1) Oystercatchers have now included CPD as part of every agency profile as Richard Robinson explains, “Oystercatchers believe that the IPA’s CPD and professional qualifications are the benchmark for best practice agency learning and development and use this as one of our key indicators when proposing agencies to brands. We believe in it so much that it now forms an important part of our agency profilers”.

2) Daniel Marks Recruitment are endorsing IPA CPD and qualifications as a key differentiator for candidates, as well as promoting the value of candidates with these badges of distinction to their agency clients. As Robin Longes, MD of Daniel Marks observes, “Agencies are made from talent and it’s no great surprise to see our clients with CPD Gold accreditation are some of the most desirable agencies to work for. These qualifications add value to the individual not just the agency, and, at Daniel Marks London we specifically seek talent with IPA qualifications”.

And since 2012 IPA qualifications have caught the eye of agencies beyond our shores, in fact over 1,000 practitioners have now passed our exams throughout Europe, Middle East, Asia and North Africa, with agencies in Australia, New Zealand and Canada following suit in 2015.

In 2013 IPA Council approved the notion that IPA qualifications should be opened up to marketing professionals to enable greater cohesion between clients and agencies through shared learning.

Since then, practitioners from Diageo, Direct Line, Mondelez, Sony Music, RSA, The Guardian, Unilever, William Grant, Google and Virgin Media have participated in the Foundation Certificate, the Eff Test, the Advanced Certificate and the Excellence Diploma.

All this has a number of business benefits for agencies:

a) Strengthening the ties between agencies and clients through shared learning.

b) Improved business performance: greater client retention, improvements in margin and profitability and higher pitch conversion rates.

c) A competitive stance in the graduate recruitment market: a commitment to career long learning puts the advertising, marketing and communications industry on a par with the ‘professions’.

d) A helping hand in aiding staff retention, a commitment to CPD and qualifications is proven to help staff retention, and the impact on reducing recruitment fees is marked.

e) Increased practitioner knowledge, which in a knowledge economy gives IPA members a competitive advantage.

This is rather neatly summed up by Peter Markey, CMO of the Post Office, "IPA member agencies are evidently seeing the direct and powerful link between investing in their people and business performance – for agencies at the top of their game these two elements are evidently entwined.

"As a client it gives me an even greater confidence in how our excellent IPA member agencies are helping drive a real competitive advantage and results for a business like my own, by recognising and valuing the importance of their people".

To find out how you can harness the power of CPD email Matt Stavrou ( and to raise the professional standards of your staff through qualifications contact Indre Dragunaite (

It may well be the best investment you’ve ever made in your business.

Patrick Mills is Director of Professional Development at The IPA.

Check out our comprehensive CPD area to learn more.

To find out about how CPD Gold is good for your business read our blog by Kate Bruges, Co-Director of Talent, JWT and IPA Council memberand Rob Hunter MD and Founder, Hunterlodge/Advertising and Co-chair of the IPA Professional Development Group.

Last updated 21/01/2015

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