Also known as...
The role in brief...
The Account Director leads a client account, or set of accounts, within the agency, ensuring that they are profitable and growing. They take responsibility for the delivery of quality creative work that meets the client’s needs and addresses their business problems, and must champion that work. They will do so through the effective management of their own team and their ability to lead and inspire others inside and outside the agency. They will regularly be involved with pitches for new and organic business, approaching these with both a creative and commercial mindset.
- Internal: Agency management/leadership team; Agency account team, including planners/strategists; Creative teams and directors; Creative services and production staff; New business team; HR/ Talent Team; Finance/accounts.
- External: Client marketing team, including Marketing Director; Client procurement personnel; Other agencies in their client's roster e.g. Media, Public Relations; Regulatory bodies; New business opportunity contacts and Intermediaries such as Oystercatchers, the AAR.
- Account Directors will report to the senior management team of the agency, usually a Managing Partner/Board Director or Managing Director. They will also report to the Finance Director on account profitability and contracts.
- They will manage and motivate staff within their team, being accountable for their performance and providing them with professional development opportunities.
- Leading client accounts within the agency, with overall responsibility for developing the client agency relationship.
- Working with planners to interrogate client briefs, by challenging and asking questions, to develop communications briefs that meet business needs in an effective and accountable way. This is done in collaboration with Media Planners and Strategists from roster agencies to ensure integrated work is delivered for the client.
- Supporting the Account Planner in writing inspirational creative briefs and going on to direct the strategic development of creative work, presenting and selling this effectively to clients.
- Ensuring the profitability and growth of client accounts.
- Identifying, developing and converting new business opportunities with existing and future agency clients.
- Negotiating contracts and fees with Marketing Directors and client procurement personnel, normally with senior finance team members.
- Managing the work, performance and professional development of team members, for example their appraisal and making sure that the agreed actions from this review are carried out by the appraisee and the agency.
- Leading and inspiring those outside of the core team, including creative teams and those in other agencies working on the same account.
- Reporting key financial and team data to the agency’s senior leadership, finance and human resources departments,
- Maintaining a detailed awareness of relevant market trends affecting their accounts, and developments in the wider advertising and communications industry.
- Updating agency systems such as Salesforce and maintaining up to date client account information.
- Preparing materials for pitches and attending these meetings.
- Helping with competitor review analysis and able to appreciate what makes a campaign effective.
- Involved in recruitment and selection decisions.
Those who succeed are...
- Able to lead and inspire their team, the wider agency, clients, and other external partners.
- Beginning to appreciate not just short term actions but articulate a long term vision for their team and brands.
- Good listeners – for example able to appreciate how much the client knows about their brand and consumers and learn from listening.
- Great communicators – commanding the room in presentations for example, able to write pithy persuasive emails etc.
- Commercially and creatively astute.
- Effective negotiators.
- Unafraid to take charge when necessary, be decisive and then build support for those decisions.
- Responsible and accountable for their own and others’ work, delegating effectively (i.e. differently to different levels of experience and people types) to balance a varied and demanding workload, and appreciates that the team working well can achieve much more than any individual.
- Prepared to share credit and shoulder difficulties. Good at honest and immediate praise.
- Focused on the personal and professional development of their team to optimise their combined performance, understanding when to give praise, motivational feedback and constructive criticism, but also when to ‘be the boss’.
- Good at evaluating creative work; able to give and receive feedback to support its development.
- Curious, knowledgeable and passionate about their client’s business, and where and how advertising contributes to its success.
- Aware that it is through strong team collaboration that success will come, where everyone can play to their strengths.
Where they come from, and where they go...
Account Directors have usually gained considerable previous agency experience, typically as an Account Manager, or Senior Account Manager in bigger agencies. A few will transition into the role from a senior marketing position at a client organisation. Account Directors may progress into agency management roles such as Client Services Director, Managing Director and Chief Executive. These promotions will depend on the commercial and creative success of their accounts, their effectiveness in winning new business, and their ability to lead and develop.