Comment from Khairudin Rahim, CEO of the 4As Malaysia on the subject of Talent Drain

We noted with interest the recent article in The Star, “Stop the brain drain in advertising”.

While it is certainly true that the industry suffers from brain drain, Advertising is not unique in this respect, with the problem extending beyond the creative industries. This is also a global phenomenon that everyone faces, not just in Malaysia.

Furthermore, the migration of talent from Agencies to the Client side is not merely a trend. Instead, it is a new reality exacerbated by shifts occurring in the wider advertising ecosystem over the past decade.

While the world has changed around us, Agency heads must ask themselves whether or not they are stuck in the past. To attract a new generation of creative people, Agencies need to show what impact their work will have on the client and in society. Is the work creative and effective, does it make clients more successful, improve the lives of consumers, and contribute to society?

Traditional companies are unlikely to hold on to this new generation of talent unless more fluid and flexible environments are provided. In some industries, the establishment of innovation hubs, start-up incubators, and time to pursue personal projects are a few examples of how an entrepreneurial drive can be directed to the benefit of both the individual and companies. The consequence is a culture that thrives on curiosity and inspiration which will create a more interesting environment and enjoyable place of work. 

Having said that, the 4As is of the belief that Advertising Agencies need not sit idly by, and we can take matters into our own hands. Agencies need to identify pre-emptive actions that can be taken to reduce the occurrence of talent drain, and improve “stickiness”. Most of all, Agencies need to embrace talent development and training when making new hires.

For Agency heads to fall on the oft repeated excuse that staff will leave after receiving training is simply putting the cart before the horse.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) should be viewed neither as a burdensome duty nor a philanthropic gesture towards the staff. Instead CPD is an essential investment that makes hard-nosed commercial sense and contributes towards the continued success of any Agency.

To this end, the 4As, in an alliance with the UK’s renowned Chartered Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), offers a range of award winning and internationally recognised online qualifications. These are the IPA Foundation Certificate, IPA Digital Performance Certificate, IPA Commercial Certificate, and IPA EFF Test Certificate, as well as bespoke training courses including the IPA Strategic Planning Bootcamp, IPA Account Management Bootcamp, and IPA Creative Directors Bootcamp, all of which are HRDF claimable.

IPA qualifications give an Agency a competitive advantage – the more you know, the more commercially viable you are. Clients see better value in Agencies where practitioners have been through specific learning and development programmes, giving the clients greater confidence that they will receive effective solutions to marketing problems.

Directing staff to obtain IPA qualifications and attend the 4As/IPA courses is a no-brainer because they can directly apply what is learned to their jobs the very next day. Investment in CPD ultimately reduces staff churn while increasing client and staff satisfaction scores, creating new business wins and boosting profitability.

Agencies that give their staff extensive learning opportunities are able to attract, grow, and retain the best talent in a fiercely competitive landscape. Staff who feel appreciated tend to perform well and deliver better work.

These are some of the factors that affect staff retention, not just salary. Nevertheless, the 4As has taken a leading role in assessing the state of the industry, conducting a comprehensive salary survey with the results shared to participating 4As member Agencies in January 2019, just over a year ago. The data enables these Agencies to offer competitive remuneration to help recruit and retain talent.

We would emphasise once again that Agencies must embrace talent development and training as a key component of their business development.

If you think training is expensive, consider the price of ignorance.

About the 4As

The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As), formed in 1971, is the Malaysian advertising industry’s foremost body engaged in promoting the value of advertising agencies in the Marketing Communications industry to advertisers, media, suppliers, government and the public.

The association encompasses more than 60 home-grown and international member agencies who are the key players in Malaysia’s advertising industry.

The association helps grow the business of the member agencies and advance individual careers through the provision of professional development services, industry awards, advocacy and support.

Issued by the 4As Malaysia through Milk PR.

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