Our Prime Minister is looking for Data Scientists but, do the Government know who to look for?

By now you may have heard the news that Dominic Cummings, the Chief Special Advisor to our Prime Minister has called for Data Scientists and Software Developers to help them reshape the UK state. No small task I might add and while it reads as slightly satirical, we have something to say about it. Posted in a personal blog last week, Cummings called for ‘an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads [special advisors] and perhaps some as officials’. He expressed a strong preference for those with STEM experience to fix historic issues in government to which he refers to as profound problems that sit at the core of how the British state makes decisions.  Citing Brexit and recent changes to legislation, Cummings spoke of a huge amount of low-hanging fruit lying on the street in the intersection of Data Science, AI and cognitive technologies that could be used to improve policy and project management.  Sticking to a very brief, brief – the Chief Special Advisor has offered ‘a rough set of categories’; Data scientists and software developersEconomistsPolicy expertsProject managersCommunication expertsJunior researchers one of whom will also be my personal assistantWeirdos and misfits with odd skillsAsking only for applications from those with exceptional academic qualifications from one of the world’s best universities or evidence of doing something that demonstrates equivalent skills, a PhD or MSc, outstanding mathematical skills and experiences of using analytical skills – I can’t help but question their understanding of Data Science as Data Scientists cannot be categorised, especially not in this manner. We recently produced a white paper to determine what the Ideal Data Scientist looked like and interviewed more than 1,000 professionals in the space to help us get there. Not only did we discover that there was no such thing as an ‘ideal’ Data Scientist but we also discovered, there were several debates being had over the salary, experience, education, age and location of the ‘ideal’ professional. Taking Education as an example, 50% of hiring managers believe a Data Scientist should have at least one PhD and 46% believe they should have no degree education at all, rather, being self-taught with practical and hands-on experience. This means that from a recruitment perspective, Data Scientists are tremendously hard to find and a very specific list of requirements including a PhD in my opinion, is not likely to produce the right pool of candidates – especially not when placed alongside weirdos and misfits with odd skills. Please follow the link below for access to the paper but in the meantime, I’d love to hear your opinion – do you think Cummings is on the right track with his hiring efforts? Download our white paper

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Head of Technology £80,000 - £90,000 per annum London Programme Requirements Lead £525 - £600 per day Edinburgh Senior HR Business Partner £90,000 - £95,000 per annum Berkshire Finance Business Partner £60,000 - £70,000 per annum + 10% bonus London Regulatory Reporting Accountant Up to £50,000 per annum + benefits Berkshire Business Analyst £40,000 - £50,000 per annum London A wider selection of current vacancies can be viewed on our opportunities page or get in touch for a confidential discussion about how Stanton House can help you hire great people or assist with your own career goals.

What will the Cyber Security landscape look like in 2020?

The team recently attended the Future of Cyber Security Europe and were wowed by some of the incredible talks, demonstrations and conversations had on the day. Looking back through some of their material, I was particularly fascinated by the predictions laid out for the year ahead which included the likes of Fake News, Cyber Hygiene’s and Global Warming. It was a talk by Richard Parlour that stood out for me, currently the Chairman of the EU Task Force on Cyber Security Policy for the Financial Sector he had some really interesting ideas of what the next year might have in store for the industry – and some were quite surprising.  His Cyber Security Global Predictions for 2020 included; 1. Global Warming, Cyber Cold War Cooling2. Internet’s move apart3. Local social media shutdowns 4. Fake News 2.0 5. CNI, Cyber Attacks Grow6. High-profile companies at greater risk7. Lobbying to change GDPR8. Cyber hygiene 9. Battle over liability 10. More local laws Richard’s 2020 Technology Predictions also including targeted ransomware, multichannel phishing, mobile malware attacks – specifically on banks, cyber insurance on the up, more internet of things with an increase in risk, 5G skyrockets data volumes, speed trumps security for DevOps and we might just see a rethink of the Cloud. I was really surprised to see the likes of #WagathaChristie (also known as Coleen Rooney) and Fake News discussed at the conference as predictions for 2020 as the two terms coined by the mainstream media aren’t often associated with Cyber Security but the link was fascinating. Essentially, what started as a slogan for the US presidency has now been seen in elections across the world including India and most recently, the UK and we can easily apply the same rule to a rise in phishing scams. My predictions for 2020 aren’t too dissimilar to Richard’s, rather, I am less concerned with the social media shutdowns we have seen in Africa and parts of Asia and really focused on individual companies and their pain points – Cyber hygiene playing a massive role in this alongside an education around the Insider Threat.  I am really keen to work with companies in 2020 to bring their Cyber Security up to date and this isn’t going to happen through a change to GDPR policy but rather, a compliance to current regulations – focusing on data quality, education and consultative advice to bring an awareness to professionals who sit outside of the sector.  I think in 2020 we’ll be seeing more simulated breaches, gamified hacking scenarios and augmented reality demonstrations to show organisations what could happen if a breach was to occur. I think we will definitely see an increased awareness as a result of password clean ups and a resentment towards ‘Fake News’ but, I think we’ll see Technology and Cyber Security collide even more to bring the landscape to life.  What do you think we'll see in 2020?

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."

We wouldn’t attend a job interview and not worry about the first impression we give to our prospective employer. We dress accordingly, speak accordingly and really think before we answer those dreaded questions in a bid to appear to be the perfect professional and a great culture-fit.  We are so concerned about that very first impression that we become nervous; as if we are on a blind date, desperate to come across as desirable and desperate to make a great first impression because we know there’s no second chances. We all do it, no matter what the scenario but despite it being a human reaction to meeting someone for the first time - it seems to be the area where businesses are falling short. While every candidate is keen to make a great first impression, they are also making their decision on the first impression they get from you. From that very first conversation, they will be making their judgement on you as an organisation and measure their candidate experience in the same way you are measuring their potential and unfortunately, it doesn’t always match up. Virgin Media recently calculated that they lose more than $5.4 million every year from poor candidate experiences and if that’s not enough to convince you that the candidate experience is everything, you also have to contend with the fact that disgruntled candidates can boycott your company in their personal life and offer you a bad reputation to others within the same talent pool. Aside from the negative implications of not offering an exceptional candidate experience, there are plenty of positives to offering a great first impression. You are not only more likely to have your preferred candidates accepting your job offer but they will then refer other high-grade candidates to help your business grow and build an external and internal reputation for you, as a great place to work. I believe it is the simple most important part of any interview process – do you see the importance of it too? I’d love to hear your stories about candidate experience. Have you recently been wowed by a great first impression, or, have you turned down a job offer due to a terrible first impression?

An interview with Sophie Annett

Sophie Annett  is a leader in the Finance Transformation space and has most recently held the position of Director of Finance and Accounting at Serco Plc. Starting her career training as an Accountant for KPMG she later became a Manager at Deutsche Bank before joining BT where she spent 18 years, leaving in 2018 as a Director of Shared Service Centres. Serco was an attractive offer to help satisfy her passion about automation and even more about the idea of having the right people behind it. Finding robotics I was at a Deloitte Conference five years ago when I learned about robotics. It came at a time when I was trying to change the shared service model we had in play as ultimately relying on outsourcing and offshoring to cut costs will only bring gain for a short period. I came back from the conference with my number two, intrigued and probably very annoyingly excited about the prospect of implementing RPA. My boss at the time was not a huge fan of the solution and of the opinion that it had been done before and hadn’t worked and while I knew this to be true in some areas, I challenged this perspective and decided to find out how to make it work and scalable.  Defining success I spoke to circa 40 companies who had implemented / embedded RPA and created a checklist of their successes and failures to see what we would need to achieve in order to get it right first time. I was very lucky to have a Transformation Lead who was as passionate as I was about RPA and together we recruited a team to make this a success.  I used past experience of other organisations to create a strategy, controls, strict governance – including sign off from internal audit, security and IT as well as ensuring the skill-sets needed to deliver and the different skills required to run RPA post-implementation after, which often gets forgotten about. Challenging the standard consultants model, I insisted on having the consultants come in and up-skill our team, thereby using the consultants as teachers to help train, up-skill and therefore ultimately retain our people.   We also realised early on that it needed to be led by the business and not as an “IT project” as the business knows the pitfalls of each process – it has to be evolutionary. It was of vital importance that the IT team were there to provide the RPA platform and to support the business at every step of the way.  A further lesson we learnt was the creation of a register of your bots and what process/ systems they tap into both upstream and downstream, this enables you to manage future change. We picked up quite quickly on the fact that people do not often do this. Avoiding failure The Bank of Ireland was quite an inspirational success story as they had really got it right with an emphasis on governance.  Many organisations commented that they had struggled with buy in and ultimately implementation when running the programme centrally – the creation of spoke and wheel implementation plan along with strict governance proved a better model. The discussions challenged policy to the next level – for example, an interesting piece of insight was defining when you retire a robot? How many business actually think this far forward when going through RPA implementation. The end-end life-cycle needs to be thought about not just the implementation, how are you going to manage change?  Creating a taskforce One achievement I’m very proud of is the introduction of the Finance Apprentice scheme in the SSC at BT, we hired a number of school leavers and looked to bring in second-time trainees who formed an interesting and vibrant team. We thought about the full life-cycle of the apprentice and I was determined to set up a programme as opposed to an intake. To aid the retention of these employees we created internal mobility programmes, RPA skills remain tricky to find in the marketplace and these skills are key to sustaining peak performance.  By establishing and maintaining good people in the SSC and implementing effective RPA to free up employee time, it allows the team to be generous with their time to develop others and therefore in a constant state of continuous improvement; I’ve always encouraged questions and challenge - I’m a firm believer that if you ask for help, people always will. Presenting your findingsRobotics needs a strategy. They can be used as a sticking plaster; however, you lose the knowledge of your processes and any ongoing change will cost significantly more.  I don’t believe they should be used to paper over the cracks nor can they be implemented as an emotive reaction because it is perceived to be right thing to do. Robotics are currently the main disrupter in the Finance Transformation space, you need to use solution correctly. When I first found out about RPA, I was really intrigued by the technology and kept questioning why people weren’t investing in Robotic Process Automation and for those who were, it seemed as though RPA’s poor reputation was either the result of poor strategy or it was simply not utilising the RPA solution to its full efficiency. People think of bots as a silver bullet, you put a robot in and take an FTE out but actually it’s a state of operation, and you should think of it as having a virtual team that requires management by people.  One recurring question asked of me is the impact on the team i.e. “Shared Service is yet again cutting heads – will this be the end of accountants?" The last big change in the finance world was the change from paper ledgers to  the spreadsheet  - the end result has been more accountants with better information on a more timely basis. While it hadn’t been introduced on the right foot, I knew it had potential to change industry as we knew it. Changing pathsIn 2007, when I got into transformation, it was all about shared service centres, cutting costs and offshoring – captives were not even thought of then as the bottom-line benefits were so large. However, with hindsight this move highlighted that it’s not always about costs. When you outsource, it tends to impact the data quality and therefore your NPS, SLAs and decision-making. Whether its Eastern Europe, India or South America, location can also play an impact due to the proximity of the business. BT made the decision to move to Captive set-up to help curb the above and improve quality.  There are three basic rules of what to outsource and what not to which can now be applied to robotics: 1. If the work requires business knowledge, do not outsource or automate it2. If the work includes decisions that could create a risk for the company, do not do it3. If the work requires specialist knowledge keep it in house.   In effect these rules create a line between work that can be offshored, outsourced or automated and that which cant.  Where that line is crossed it is likely to lead to, heavy FTE churn, skill and quality reduction, increased data security risks, increased costs of change and a bad reputation for shared service centres. This line is not set in stone, again a managed and controlled approach is best – first simplify the work, the eliminate unnecessary work, then standardise and finally automate.   BPO relationships can become challenging as often too much is moved, the same can be said with captive, for robotics when you don’t have the right strategy you are increasing your risk of going too far. We should use experience to prevent this from happening again.I’m not particularly keen of an outsourcer running your RPA on an ongoing basis because it can mean that they   own the Intellectual property rights which is effectively your team, processes and ability to change which is a tricky situation to reverse from.   Adapting your leadership style I’m very people orientated and I believe you need to be when operating in shared service, transformation and RPA.  This spans far beyond the workplace too I give the same advice to my teenage daughters, I give the same advice, do not go into a career that can be automated invest your time in something new e.g. robotics is a vibrant and growing sector. Most people like their comfort zone and mistake repetitive work as their comfort zone, it becomes dull and that’s when mistakes creep in. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and you increase the reward and you now have a new comfort zone. RPA allows for greater job satisfaction, creativity and excitement.  I was taught by someone who worked for me the importance of understanding why each person comes to work – their reasons are different and if you can help match their reasons to work you will have a happy and effective team.  I also believe in strengths-based leadership – we all have things we are better at and some we are not so good at.  Strengths based leadership ignores perceived “weaknesses” and develops strengths.  This also aligns with the theory of an incomplete leader – which in my mind fosters great teamwork. I’ve never surrounded myself with “mini-Me’s” as I know I’m not perfect!!  I believe in recognising where your strengths and weaknesses are and creating a team to include all skills.  I also prefer to have a team of people I admire – a team where everyone’s views and advice is key to making change successful.   Accepting and driving change is key to moving forward, when teams appreciate that controlled change is a necessity, standing still is what catches organisations out. The earlier in a career someone appreciates that change is a necessity, the more doors open and options become available to them.   Advice to othersChange - don’t underestimate it, to succeed you can only do so much change at once. Look at ensuring strong controls, governance and learn from the experience of others. RPA requires investment in the team and expertise – don’t underestimate or rush into it. Invaluable is to bring the business with you – make sure that the first robot is 100% accurate 100% of the time. It’s also best to start in a simple, low risk process - reconciliation are ripe for robotics. Implemented well robotics is the future of shared service.  Interested in reading more of our thought-leadership on the topic of Finance Transformation? Visit our Insights page to find more!

How important is it, to have a social purpose?

I recently attending a free public lecture hosted by Reading University on the importance of companies having a social purpose.  Professor Emma Borg reflected on how ethical business behaviour can result in happier, healthier and more productive employees, greater loyalty from customers and suppliers and ultimately boost a company's bottom line and this naturally made me reflect on what we do here at Stanton House.  As a member of our CSR committee, I think about our social purpose regularly. This year, our big fundraising event sent 11 of us jumping out of a plane and facing our fears with a sky dive and we raised almost £5,000. Of course, this allows the business to give to a charity we really care about, EducAid. It provides a great talking point with similarly aligned businesses and of course, allowed for some great pictures for a press-release! But, most importantly, at the very core of it enabled us as 11 individuals to come together and face our fears as one. The day had an incredibly long run up, with high fundraising targets and only four months to get there. The day itself involved travelling to a remote corner of Wiltshire, arriving from Bristol, Reading, London, Guildford and even Edinburgh. We brought our friends and families, our nerves and some bubbly for after. Unusually for a group of recruiters, we were all very quiet after the safety talks at the prospect of hurtling towards the ground at deadly speeds. There were some tears and lots of motivational hugs, words of encouragement and entertainment from little Rufus, our youngest supporter at just 18 months old.  After the jump, we were elated. There is nothing quite like falling through the sky with your colleagues, knowing that you’ve made a big impact to a charity you all care about and knowing that you’ve supported each other through a pretty weird situation. We all came back to work on Monday feeling like a team and knowing we work for an organisation that makes a positive impact in the world.  With the year almost over, a few bake-offs, a skills auction and a Christmas jumper day left to go, we will most likely raise over £12,000. Our social impact can be clearly measured but let’s not forget about the impact companies can have on individual employees when they encourage them to go out of their comfort zone. 

Navigating your way through IR35

It’s hard to go a day in business without hearing the terms political and economic uncertainty, Brexit and most recently, IR35. The impending legislative changes to IR35 Regulations are just around the corner and in my world of work, it’s just about anything anyone wants to talk about. It’s become a somewhat Brexit 2.0 with a lot of discussions taking place, decisions being made and no real understanding of what it means, how it will impact us or who is really effected. We decided it was time to change that and have an intelligent but simple conversation about IR35 and what it truly means to you. In this white paper we explore how risk-averse and knee-jerk reactions to IR35 are depriving companies of their competitive edge, and ultimately, their ability to attract the best interim talent. And, for candidates, we offer a brighter prognosis for the future by highlighting the survivability of the contractor market and the examples of the Public Sector companies who made a comeback in the space. Take a glimpse into our white paper below but for full access to the paper including the full history of IR35 regulations, the lessons learned from the Public Sector and our thought-leadership, guidance, advice and simple next steps to navigating your way through the changes – please get in touch.

Looking Beyond Job Titles

We have all heard the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ but when are we going to apply the same rule to recruitment? I am not talking about judging a candidate by their appearance, culture, religion, age or anything that could possibly discriminate against them; in fact, I am not talking about how we perceive candidates at all but rather how today’s top talent judge potential opportunities far too quickly.  Holding job titles in such high-regard, they are missing out on their perfect opportunity by failing to read job descriptions and organisations are partly to blame. We are all admirers of great job titles, take Sandwich Artists at Subway and the countless ‘gurus’ we have on LinkedIn as examples of that but looking closer to home in the Finance World, we are having the same conversations and its debilitating our top talent. Candidates are getting so caught up in job titles that they aren’t even entertaining a job description and be it a result of keeping up appearances or working as a coping mechanism to filter extensive search results, its hindering their and your success.  Take a Financial Controller for instance. They are no longer purely transactional but commercial and strategic in the same way Finance Directors are now expected to be engaging and approachable leaders. Roles change but job titles haven’t and while I would encourage every candidate to be open-minded in their search, organisations need to be mindful of the role they are advertising or rather, how they are advertising the role. Hiring managers are fantastic at looking at a professional’s CV and looking beyond the buzzwords – identifying key achievements over titles and seeing adaptability and competencies first and foremost. Unfortunately, candidates aren’t following the same thought-process and looking straight to a job title that may not carry the term ‘senior’ and it’s an instant no.  It’s a problem elevated by the start-up culture we find ourselves in which offers huge job titles for smaller responsibility. A CFO in a start-up for instance may be a Head of Finance within a larger firm and on the reverse, a Financial Controller within a corporate may find themselves as a Senior Business Partner in a smaller organisation, contributing to one of the many reasons professionals move to the disruptive world of work. For instant growth.  With this in mind, a professional heading back into the corporate world would no longer appreciate a smaller title as despite being a side-step to their current role, the job title doesn’t match their progression. I met with a FTSE 50 organisation recently which is a microcosm to the organisational issue we find ourselves facing. A hugely attractive business that entices great talent across the board but attracting and retaining financial talent is an issue for them and it’s clear to see why. The Financial Controllers manage the Senior Business Partners who in another company would be a Head of Finance and then on the reverse, the Finance Business Partners who sit underneath them would otherwise be known as Analysts. The organisational structure almost has it that you come in on a fantastic title and digress as you grow which matters more to the professionals filling the role than they realise. Ultimately my advice is simple. If you are a candidate embarking on a new search, be open-minded, look beyond the job titles and present your CV around your key achievements and not former titles. For organisations, its fairly simple too: consider how your future talent pool may react to a role and what flexibility might need to be on the table for it to work. I’d like to hear from you – have you turned down your dream role due to a title or, do you think titles are depriving you of your best talent? 

Have you heard of Reverse Mentoring?

I’d like to introduce you to the concept of Reverse Mentoring.  You may already be familiar with the term - introduced in 1999 by General Electric and used to up-skill a Board of Executives on how to use the internet, Reverse Mentoring is now transforming workplaces across the world by simply pairing together, unlikely employees and I’m one of them. In November 2018 we produced a comprehensive white paper on Reverse Mentoring to explore how the tool can be used to support an inclusive workplace culture, diversify your current and future talent pools, broaden your demographic, retain millennial talent and support your commercial objectives and it was a huge success. Having spent more than three months researching, interviewing and studying Reverse Mentoring and the organisations that have used the tool to achieve greatness, we shared the paper with our network and the results were overwhelming.  We had a whole community of HR professionals contact us with their stories of mentoring in different formats and amazingly, we had organisations that we had never spoken to before – tell us we had inspired their entire programme of learning and development. We decided we couldn’t possibly not use this as a perfect platform to start our very own Reverse Mentoring programme and so at the start of 2019, I became the Reverse Mentor of Managing Director, Lee Costello. What an incredible journey it has been. Almost reaching a year of our mentoring relationship and we have not only learned a huge amount from each other but we have helped each other to grow as employees of Stanton House – as leader and consultant.  While I have been given an insight into leadership and what that requires, I was able to offer Lee a millennial voice and a fresh perspective on how business-wide decisions impact the rest of the workforce.  I wanted to share our white paper with you once more because aside from the incredible thought-leadership from the likes of EY, Microsoft and BNP Paribas it might give you the inspiration to start your own journey with Reverse Mentoring and see if you too can build a more inclusive work-place culture. Have you ever been Reverse Mentored or perhaps you are a Reverse Mentor yourself? Please do get in touch and share your stories about how you have been impacted through Mentoring. Download our white paper on Reverse-Mentoring white paper

Is it time to talk about Quittin’ Quentin, Disgruntled Dave, Sandra the Spy and Careless Caroline?

We recently attended The Future of Cyber Security Europe 2019 and was amazed at the emphasis of the Insider Threat with speakers like Richard Parlour, Mark Howell and Daniel Selman all identifying it as a key issue and with the non-malicious Insider Threat accounting for 50% of all data breaches in business, it's not hard to see why. I am a huge advocate for educating a non-Cyber Security audience about the dangers of an uneducated workforce and recently contributed to our Evolution of Cyber white paper where we emphasised the need for HR and Cyber Security teams to work together to reverse this. I wanted to share with you something I heard at the Expo which brought this common dilemma to life. A talk by Fortinet and Nouveau really stood out for me as a fantastic way of not just identifying the issue but breaking it down for a non-technical audience. Jonny Tennyson, Security Fabric Specialist at Fortinet spoke about Quittin’ Quentin, Disgruntled Dave, Sandra the Spy and Careless Caroline as a way of personalising the real issues we face when dealing with an Insider Threat. While getting quite a few laughs from the audience, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the perfect way to educate HR departments outside of the sector. Quittin’ Quentin is a person who feels as though he can’t progress in his company and decides it’s time to move on. When leaving, he wonders what the best way to deliver value to his new company would be and looks over his options – he could take his experience, research and perspective or, he could take clients, contacts or even IP addresses from his current company to a detrimental effect. It is really important that anyone who is leaving a business; who has access to customer data, is monitored to ensure a malicious breach doesn’t occur. Using an example of a person in this instance, makes it a plausible reality for non-Cyber professionals and the same can be said with Disgruntled Dave who has been offered the world.  Brought in on a series of false promises, he now has access to the IP address alongside anything he would need to cause an issue with, including the source code. Unlike Quentin, he isn’t known to be disgruntled just yet which makes him even more dangerous. And even more dangerous is Sandra the Spy. A senior individual who is likely to be poached by another organisation with an offer she can’t refuse. Also disgruntled, she can become entrenched in corporate espionage and leak information from one company to another. While these characters form the 50% Insider Threat that is malicious. Careless Caroline is the employee that HR departments need to be really aware of. Meaning no harm but with a great responsibility, has access to a lot of information across the business. She’s ignorant, under pressure, poorly trained and becomes the victim of phishing or social engineering. While Caroline is trying her best to get the job done, she isn’t aware of the detrimental affect her curious mind could cause by clicking on a peculiar link – why would she, she has never been told not to. Insider threat is on the rise and 63% of companies declare they are concerned about this with 57% claiming they are concerned about inadvertent data breaches. 53% worry about malicious breaches. With more organisations fearing accidental breaches, a workforce made of disgruntled and poorly trained employees should be our first step-change and HR have a huge role to play in this. I would love to hear your thoughts on Quentin, Dave, Sandra and Caroline and more importantly, what you think needs to be done to reduce the Insider Threat.

Preparing for IR35 Changes – what I’ve learnt, and something worth shouting about.

Over the last six months or so it has felt a little like going back to Law School as I have tried to develop sufficient expertise on the changing IR35 landscape to enable me to give meaningful advice to our Customers. It has been a long and winding road. Myself and the IR35 Project Group at Stanton House are now engaged in numerous Client Briefings and sessions with our Interims and the broader candidate customer community to advise them in preparation for the anticipated changes. This is part education, part reassurance and partly about connecting our Customers with the right third-party experts and solution providers to best navigate the changes. In the midst of this, I would like to share a few things that are on my mind and that I believe are worth shouting about. The method for determination of IR35 Status is not changing. In the new world, post April 6 2020, End User Clients are not liable for unpaid Tax & NIC should an outside IR35 determination later be found to be incorrect – the Fee Payer (i.e. the recruitment business or MSP) carries that liability. As long as the End User Client applies ‘reasonable care’ in making the determination, they are protected [and responsible Recruitment Businesses and Contractors will ensure this risk is Insured – throughout the supply chain.] On this basis, it seems to me that if all parties take a deep breath and take time to really think it through, we can work through the change without too much disruption and pain. I don’t think it is contentious to say that all parties recognise there are a large number of contractors currently working Outside IR35 who should be operating Inside. They are doing BAU roles, and based on the changes in April next year, will have tough decisions to make as they will no longer be operating under their current arrangements. But it is also true that there are large numbers of Interims / Contract Workers who are quite correctly operating Outside IR35 who are feeling threatened.   I appreciate that HMRC have a responsibility to maximise the UK Tax take, but I very much hope that the most recent pronouncements don’t lead to further ‘blanket’ Inside IR35 determinations from UK Corporate. There have been a significant number of well publicised statements from large companies stating that, from early next year, they will no longer engage Outside IR35 Workers. Based on my understanding of the changes on their way in April, I believe that these blanket policies will disrupt the market in a way that is unnecessary – and not in the interests of either the Company themselves, or the Contract Workers. We very much hope that the dust settles quickly, and that UK businesses chose to implement an approach of ‘case by case’ determinations that enables genuine providers of Services to operate Outside IR35. This is what HMRC themselves are calling for (HMRC are publicly very much against Blanket Assessments) and there are IR35 Status Assessment Tools available to do this in a highly compliant and efficient manner, Tools that also incorporate insurance against any future challenge of the IR35 determination.  Recruiters and / or the Contract Worker themselves are generally happy to fund the Tool (Stanton House certainly are). There would be no cost to the Client Company, and they would also be indemnified against any future Tax / NIC liability.  I and my colleagues at Stanton House will keep shouting loud to spread the word about the approach we very much believe is in the interest of all parties. An approach that facilitates the UK Tax Authorities collecting appropriate tax revenues without disrupting the flexible labour market in the UK that I believe is a critical component to our resilient economy battling through these troubled times. We will be producing an IR35 focused white paper before the end of the year working with our incredible partners Qdos, to provide a comprehensive view of your options in the lead-up to and post IR35 legislative changes in April. Please do get in touch if you would like a copy of the paper once it's published in December!

Using Data, for good

Data as we know has the capacity to change the world. Not just change the way we do things, see things or interpret things but make the unthinkable possible. We have now reached a stage in our technical evolution where we have a comprehensive understanding of data and how it can impact our everyday lives but isn’t it time we started using it for good? I don’t mean good as in creating conversions or good as in building Sophia 2.0 I mean good as in using data to create genuine change, for the better. Clive Humby stated in 2006, ‘Data is the new oil’ and The Economist followed in his footsteps just two years ago when they wrote ‘The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data’. Data is ‘officially’ the most valuable resource in the world, surely we can find a more valuable place for it than business? I recently attended the Big Data LDN conference and heard a really fascinating talk by a company called TIBCO. They were discussing how data and AI can help reduce homelessness, prevent hunting and even help us go green by monitoring rain-fall in certain parts of the world. This really got me thinking about how I talk about data every day. We either talk from a business perspective about GDPR and regulations we have in place to protect our data or we speak to businesses hiring a new data team to monetise their vision. This was a completely fresh concept for me – using data for good and it’s made me really want to learn more about the social responsibility, of data. I’d like to hear from you – do you use data for good or have you come across a company that has? I would love to hear about your experiences with ‘responsible data’ and how together, we could enhance the cause.

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