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TAKING TALENT GLOBAL

Simon_Mitchell

By Simon Mitchell, European Marketing Director and UK General Manager, global talent management consultancy DDI

Simon_Mitchell

Simon_Mitchell

The debate over whether the UK should leave the European Union rumbles on. On one side we have warnings about huge job losses, reduction of investment and transfer of operations that the UK leaving the EU would result in and on the other hand there are those that argue that a satisfactory exit could be negotiated and the gain would outweigh the pain. Whatever your position, what is certain is that financial services organisations must continue to adapt to working in an increasingly changeable, far less certain world.

What does this mean in reality? Many FS organisations don’t only have the domestic market to contend with. In a borderless commercial world, many have decided to take advantage of operating with economies of scale and servicing markets that span the globe. Global operations must navigate complex political and regulatory environments. Critical to operating successfully in the challenging and ambiguous world of today is the talent – the people – that the organisation is able to deploy. However much the world of business changes, it’s comforting to remember that people are still the number one differentiator for successfully performing businesses.

The oft quoted war for talent may have been in ceasefire in some parts of the world, but it has never gone away. Even though the past five years have been tough for parts of the sector, the hunt for highly skilled people has continued. And for many companies, the war for talent is played out globally. The challenge is not simply finding and attracting the people you need; DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2011 revealed that not only is there a shortfall of talented executive leaders, but that the success rates of these leaders also remains a concern.

Managing talent globally is complex and naturally includes putting a legal, economic and political lens on people decisions. The different employment laws governing each country have an impact on moving talent. They determine, for example, how long an expatriate may legally be in the country without requiring a work permit. But there are other, far more subtle, factors to consider. Data protection and intellectual property laws can vary enormously between countries. If a business is setting up a new enterprise in a region where data gathered on employees during the performance management or selection process cannot legally be removed from the country, then this has far-reaching implications. The corporate centre would essentially be blind to an entire part of the workforce. It is issues such as these that need to be understood to allow global talent management to function smoothly.

BB-cover-shot

BB-cover-shot

Another key step in taking talent management global is to prepare managers and senior leaders to work in overseas markets. Leaders that can operate in overseas markets don’t just emerge, organisations must plan and deliver dedicated development to provide leaders with the skills to help them succeed in new roles. It’s not simply a matter of transferring someone from a London trading floor to one in the US. One of the key areas in which managers can benefit from development is in leading diverse teams. Diversity covers a number of areas, from gender to culture, age to skills; workforces are becoming increasingly varied. This means managers will be managing groups of people with very different backgrounds, skills and experience to their own. This can be a huge challenge but there is a solution.

Leaders have a crucial role to play. In the diverse teams of today there should be a common way of operating and a fundamental expectation of leadership. This isn’t about processes and systems, but more about a shared way of interacting with each other. It’s said that people don’t leave a company, they leave a manager – and what the manager does, says and how they act is how the rest of the team will follow.

Organisations can help their employees find a common way of communicating, so whether they’re talking to a trader in Boston, or a manager in Beijing, the same leadership language will help foster effective communication. Leaders set the tone of communications, so it’s important that communications are consistent.

DDI has identified a core set of skills managers and leaders should master to help build effective and functional working relationships. Called the ‘Interaction Essentials’, they focus on what many believe are ‘soft skills’, but they can be some of the trickiest to master. While it may be easy to be positive in interactions with colleagues when everything is running smoothly, in times of stress – which many in the FS sector experience often – relationships can be the first things to go.

The Interaction Essentials are:

  • Maintaining self-esteem
  • Creating empathy
  • Encouraging involvement
  • Building trust
  • Encouraging ownership of objectives
  • Being skilled in the personal needs of the relationship between the manager and the team member

By mastering and using these skills in each interaction with all colleagues, leaders will help themselves have more positive interactions with people of any background, whether they are working in the Hong Kong office or the one in Dubai. These are business critical skills and research has shown that the most effective leaders are the ones who use them consistently. So there is much to be said for organisations ensuring that their people master these skills if they are looking to have a global operation.

And finally, when planning how to oversee their people globally, organisations will benefit from a healthy dose of realism about organisational culture; the distance from the head office is measured in more than mere miles. The parts of the business furthest away from the centre may have different priorities and different ways of working – no matter what diktats come down from above. The different parts of the business should be involved in creating a strategy for its people to ensure they buy into it, and have a part to play in it. The head office can work to decide what parts they are happy to let the remote offices take care of, and what parts of the people strategy they want to retain sight of. As FS companies continue to merge with, and acquire, other players in the industry, this is something that needs to be taken into account.

Planning a global strategy is not easy, but neither are the challenges insurmountable. By planning it while keeping one eye on legal, economic and political factors, by equipping leaders with the interaction skills necessary to manage diverse teams and by taking into account the different needs of the business in different parts of the world, organisations are already closer to making the most of their people. And in this global business world people make all the difference.

Business

Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key

Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key 1

By Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half UK

As lockdown restrictions ease for the foreseeable future, conversations across the business world are starting to turn to how employers can safely and seamlessly prepare for their workforce to return to the office.

Research from Robert Half has found that over half (54%) of employees are worried about working in close proximity to their colleagues, while a similar proportion are eager to return to the office due to loneliness working from home (45%) or concerns about missing out on career opportunities (30%).

Unsurprisingly, after everything companies and their employees have done to successfully adapt their operations and working practices to social distancing rules over the last few months, immediately returning to the old ways of working will likely neither be sensible or practical. With safety being the key priority for the ‘new normal’ of office life – communication, flexibility and preparation should be the main focus areas for employers.

With this in mind, what are the challenges and opportunities that employees anticipate as they prepare for the return to work, beyond government and industry supplied health and safety best practice? Furthermore, how can employers best support their staff during this period?

Keep people at the heart of change

It is important to recognise that your workforce has been working through an intense period of uncertainty and change for months, which can be incredibly unsettling. On top of this, working for weeks in isolation without the usual physical interactions with team members could be potentially detrimental to employee engagement and mental wellbeing.

Having adjusted to keep staff connected with one another from a distance with virtual team building exercises, video calls and daily check-ins, as teams begin working in hybrid models with some in the office and others remote, staff engagement will need to adapt again.

Managing people with greater sensitivity and maintaining positivity throughout will be crucial. To help instil a sense of normality and engagement, encourage maximum collaboration between individuals (in accordance with social distancing rules), and make sure teams feel part of company goals and opportunities through regular meetings and communication – no matter their location.

Continuing to invest in technology and offering flexibility will also be important to ensuring that people can continue to work remotely or on-site, either in accordance with their own wishes or as part of your staggered return-to-office plan.

Communicate, communicate, communicate (and listen)

Reassuring staff that they are able to safely return to the office will require continuous communication. From expectations of the physical office, to expectations of how to operate within hybrid teams, these new expectations and new workplace requirements should be communicated to all staff clearly to avoid confusion.

Regular email updates, updates on the company’s intranet and social media channels, as well as frequent town hall meetings (either online or in a smaller setting) could be key elements of an effective communications approach.

Also, consider a feedback channel to allow staff within the team to offer thoughts on their experience of returning to the office and any suggestions on improving the process. Whether on a company-wide basis or a team-by-team approach, schedule regular check-ins to engage with employees’ questions and concerns.

Maintaining open communication channels with your team will be essential for keeping up employee morale and ensuring clarity. For example, if some employees aren’t comfortable with coming to the office every day, then they should have plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns and have them dealt with promptly, respectfully and fairly.

Staggered return-to-office planning

Depending on the size of business and density of office space, maintaining home working arrangements across teams on an alternating basis could make it easier to implement safe social distancing. This involves select teams working remotely while others work on-site on any given day.

An alternating approach to remote working might also reduce the risk of staff feeling pressured or overwhelmed by an immediate return to the office five-days-a-week. After all, some families might be juggling temporary disruptions to childcare arrangements and public transport systems will likely become crowded again. So, a transitionary period will help everyone adjust to post-lockdown office working.

Finally, if you have developed your technology infrastructure to facilitate remote working, you would do well to continue to leverage these new capabilities as in all probability, a mixture of remote and at-office work will be needed for some time.

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Business

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy  

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy   2

Leading payments provider, Contis, has applied for two grants from the RBS & BCR Alternative Remedies Package, totalling £35 million.  

Unlike most applicants who will deploy funds through a single brand, Contis is taking a completely different approach. The funding will be used to drive fintech innovation in the UK by developing an off the shelf, B2B electronic and card payment technology platform for SMEs. With Contis’ powerful tech stack and regulated status, this will empower hundreds of fintechs to support the SME market with groundbreaking technologies, payments and lending capabilities. Contis today services over 800,000 consumer accounts, 14,500 business accounts and processes £4bn in transactions per year, demonstrating a proven track record.   

UK businesses are facing a challenging economic environment with the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit. As large corporations and entire sectors are affected, SMEs will play a vital role in the recovery. Contis’ approach is completely disruptive, offering three channels to maximise support for SMEs and sole traders, through three unique brands, all powered by APIs from Contis’ modular and configurable engine. 

1.       Canvas for Business 

Contis is a super-vendor in the world of fintech, offering payments through proven banking rails and card scheme capabilities including issuing pre-paid, debit and virtual cards. They’re linked to digital delivery like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and a trusted tech stack that boasts 99.99% uptime.  

With funding from the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF), Contis’ technology and regulated services will be made available to the whole fintech community, enabling them to provide dedicated SME accounts with the latest leading-edge capabilities delivered via Contis’ wholly owned, secure, cloud-based technology and apps. Contis’ solution has a firm eye on the need for SMEs to compete internationally, particularly after Brexit, and offers FX integration as standard.  

Canvas for Business will increase competition by providing fintechs serving the SME market with technology that outstrips the big banks. Contis will also provide credit referencing capabilities and empower fintechs to lend to their SME client base through Contis’ own credit licence. Without the constraints of legacy systems, it will enable simple connectivity to accounting and payments solutions, as well as to unlimited future innovations.  

2.       Engage for Business 

Over 150 Credit Unions currently use Contis’ Engage service and technology, and hold an estimated £400 million in undeployed cash reserves. Developed with CIF funding, Engage for Business will enable Credit Unions to launch business accounts and payments products for the first time, and allow excess funds to be redeployed in the SME sector through business support loans. This will revolutionise access to funding for sole traders and small businesses. 

3.       Freedom for Business 

With CIF funding, Contis will also offer large scale SMEs a direct-to-market solution where Contis holds the relationship and provides a bespoke offer to meet the business’ exact needs. 

Contis’ application to the Capability and Innovation Fund is focused on creating the widest possible impact for UK SMEs by fulfilling their accounts & payments needs and driving innovation in SME financial services. 

Through the grant, Contis will empower over 200 fintechs and Credit Unions to provide credit, simplify payments integration into everyday business needs, offer digital credit referencing, provide budgeting tools to SMEs, enable automated payments, give predictive insight on cash flow, provide rewards to SMEs on spending, and much more. 

Peter Cox, Founder and Executive Chairman of Contis said: “Our mission is to democratise payments and financial services for all SMEs, so they’re spoilt for choice with innovative and affordable solutions that meet their exact needs. Our approach, based upon proven technologies, will broaden and disrupt the services available to SMEs far beyond the capabilities of existing providers such as the big banks.  

“By driving competition and innovation, while improving the availability of funding, our approach will increase the services on offer to SMEs and make them more affordable, therefore becoming easier for every entrepreneurial person with vision to run their own businesses.” 

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Business

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver 3

Nearly a third (32%) of consumers would switch providers if a brand’s website is unavailable for more than 24 hours

A study released today reveals the scale of omni-channel pressure brands now faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as consumers flock to apps and websites to as the priority destination to transact with brands.

The UK has experienced a huge leap in use of online services thanks to lockdown, with the public appearing to have less concern for the availability of a brand’s physical location. Research by Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) uncovers a “window of availability” that UK businesses now have before consumer loyalty changes:

  • If a brand’s website is down for 24 hours – 32 percent of consumers would switch provider
  • If a brand’s app is down for 24 hours – 28 percent of consumers would switch provider
  • If a physical store is closed for 24 hours – 20 percent of consumers would switch provider

The results by industry paint an interesting picture of the availability timeframes brands are expected to adhere to:

  • For online retailers, excluding grocery retailers – 23 percent of consumers would switch provider if they could not access online services for 12 hours, rising to over a third (34 percent) after 24 hours
  • For financial services and entertainment streaming platforms – 21 percent of consumers would switch provider after 12 hours, rising to 33 percent after 24 hours
  • In the case of online grocery shopping – 20 percent would switch provider after 12 hours, rising to one third 33 percent after 24 hours

The findings also highlight that as digital reliance increases, so will consumer expectations towards availability in the future. Over the coming two years, a third (33 percent) of consumers expect online financial services to always be available, rising to 35 percent for streaming services.

“UK consumers have become reliant on the constant availability of online services, and lockdown has only served to heighten this,” comments Chris Huggett, SVP, EMEA at Sungard AS. “What used to be a choice between physical and digital has now firmly accelerated into digital environments across various industries. As online worlds continue to outpace bricks and mortar as the face of businesses, ensuring constant availability and clear communications on downtime will be key for brands to build trust and loyalty.

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