For financial services contractors it can sometimes seem that getting from offer to start in a new contract is harder than getting the offer in the first place! Simon Bichara from HiredByMe discusses why compliance and onboarding is getting more difficult, and how they’re trying to make things a little easier.
“I’ve been a financial services contractor for 20 years. In my first contract I was interviewed on the Friday and started on the Monday. In my last contract I waited nearly four weeks for compliance and onboarding to complete.”
It’s a refrain we’ve heard repeatedly from many of our contractor clients. Over recent years – and especially since the financial crash of 2008 – we’ve seen the complexity and volume of the checks being undertaken on contractors before they start a new role rise significantly.
To some extent you can blame the public mood since the crash: regulators, press and other commentators have adopted a zero tolerance approach to mistakes since financial institutions lost much of their public trust. As a result, that one-in-a-million chance that you’re not quite who you say you are is no longer a risk worth taking – and so financial institutions ask for more and more data – and lots of supporting evidence.
We’ve also seen reduced appetite of organisations to ignore minor discrepancies or to allow contractors on site while waiting for checks to be completed. As a result offer-to-start times have risen substantially. A survey we conducted last year showed that on average contractors lose 5 days of revenue a year while waiting for pre-employment screening (PES) to complete.
If you want to get through the processes faster there are some simple guidelines to follow:
- Don’t argue about the questions
Sometimes, the questions you might get asked in screening can seem irrelevant to the role in hand – and the rules on what evidence is acceptable (and what isn’t) can seem arbitrary.
But it’s unlikely that the screening team you’re working with will have the authority to change the rules in your case – most of us aren’t important enough to have the rules re-made just for us – and in any event pushing back on these is likely to make the process take even longer.
The best approach is to review carefully what’s needed and try as hard as possible to provide the specific answers and evidence being requested.
- Be scrupulously clear…
It’s tempting on your CV to draw a thin veil over the fact that you attended university… but never completed your degree. Many client organisations will regard this as misrepresentation - a strong risk factor - and it’s easy to be denied a role as a result. Instead, make sure that you’re super clear on anything that might get misinterpreted.
- …and consistent…
Even minor discrepancies (such as calling yourself a “senior business analyst” in your CV and a “business analyst” in a screening form) may need further discussion to be resolved. As far as possible make sure that you represent the same data in exactly the same way every time you provide it.
- …and honest.
This one’s fairly obvious. Everything you put down will get checked at source. If it’s not true, don’t put it down – you’ll almost certainly be denied a role when you’re caught out.
- Be responsive
Time when the screening team are waiting for you to respond is time when your screening isn’t progressing. Make sure that you respond quickly to their requests – but don’t be slapdash, you’ll probably have to do it twice over.
- Keep a few bills in paper form
Despite the rise of internet billing and direct debits for almost everything a surprising number of client policies won’t allow online bills to be used to prove address or identity. It’s best to leave at least some utilities on paper billing, providing you with a true address “paper trail”
If all this seems like a lot of hassle to endure for each new role, our Portable PES might appeal. Rather than starting at the point of offer, it allows you to get all your screening done in advance of finding a role so that you can onboard much faster (which means more days earning and fewer days on the bench); and carry your data from one role to the next, just topping up as you move (which means far less hassle). You also get full transparency and control of the data. Check it out at www.hiredbyme.com
Simon Bichara, Director at HiredByMe @HiredByMe