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Moving into Finance after University

Graduating can feel like a weight lifted off your shoulders, but that relief is often short lived when you are confronted with the dilemma of what comes next. Typically, some student debt is going to mean that you want to start earning as soon as possible, so what should you do first if you’ve got your heart set on a career in Finance? Use the support and services at your disposal Universities pride themselves on their vocational guidance and post-graduation support, often up to two years after you’ve left, so use it while it’s there. Career guidance is easier when you have a direction in mind, so be as specific as you can if you know where you want to head. Work on your CV You may think that’s it’s going to be a short document at this stage, but there is a surprising amount of additional information you can bolster your CV with to help you stand out from the competition and get the job you want: part time work, volunteering, any roles you have held in university societies should all be included. Sound out some potential references while you are doing this too. Audit your social media channels It sounds obvious, but it’s a small step that is often overlooked. Delete anything dodgy! Recruiters and prospective employers will look online, so get those security settings in place and clean up your various profiles that have documented your recent student life. Intern Notoriously tough to get on, but there are avenues in Finance, both in industry and banking, to get onto a summer internship programme. They usually run throughout the summer for 8-10 weeks, but a place needs securing well in advance of your graduation. Worth trying for if you can afford not to earn immediately, as they are excellent on your CV. Partner with a recruiter Good finance recruitment consultants who work with grads can be invaluable, from the CV points above, to helping with interview technique and above all, putting you forward for the right graduate roles. Of course, you can apply for jobs directly, but consultants will look at the bigger picture, with your interests in mind, in terms of opportunities and career progression, and are connected throughout your chosen sector. All businesses in all sectors need people with financial skills and, as Accountancy, Banking and Finance are very broad areas, there are numerous roles and areas of work you can focus on. Discuss with your recruitment consultant which specialism or type of role would best suited not just for your qualifications, but your skills, personality and interests. For example, not everyone is suited to working in a huge organisation, they may prefer to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. You may have already decided that you want a Finance role in industry rather than Financial Services, but even then, there is much to consider. The sector list in industry is endless – FMCG, Retail, Pharma, Media, Telecommunications, Energy, IT etc. – and there are pros and cons to each, some with broader future career options to pivot elsewhere, others more specialist and tougher to move away from. This is where the research skills from your studying will come to the fore, as you need to drill down in sectors and then the potential employers. Remember, your degree doesn’t have to be in finance or business studies to work in this area. Employers are equally interested in the transferable skills you have gained as a student, so don’t be put off if you decided on a career in Finance two years into your Psychology degree. If you are a recent graduate and interested in a career in Finance, contact us today to see how we can help you embark on your career.

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The implications of IR35

The Finance Bill was published earlier this month including the much anticipated legislation for the private sector off-payroll rules that we discussed in our last blog, and which are coming into force from April next year. IR35 is a new tax law being introduced to counter tax avoidance by contractors providing services to clients via a limited company, who could otherwise be considered an employee. It is estimated that almost a quarter of the UK’s workforce now works on a contingent basis as a contractor or consultant, either in the public or private sector and as such, there is plenty to think about from both the contractor and the hiring client perspective. Don’t forget, HMRC will be ready to investigate all parties in a contractual chain should they not receive the correct tax or NI contributions, so it is nothing to be taken lightly. Contractors are understandably concerned that new, complicated legislation that could result in an HMRC investigation into a company may put off many hiring companies from using contractors, despite the recent increased uptake for contract work caused by the economic uncertainty over Brexit. Furthermore, it will no longer be up to the contractor to say whether or not they fall inside or outside of IR35 – the status determination from April 2020 will be with the engaging client. When this happened in the public sector, there were a number of cases of clients issuing blanket assessments, whether or not a contractor was genuinely self-employed, and, despite the recent legislation stating that blanket statements will not be permitted this time, contractors are reasonably nervous about a retrospective tax bill. With nine months to go before the legislation comes in, there are some practical steps contractors can take to prepare: Contact your clients – make sure that they are on top of managing their own IR35 process and that they understand your situation correctly Get a Confirmation of Arrangement (CoA) document in place, where your status is confirmed Ensure your own documentation, equipment, and processes clearly demonstrate that you are self-employed, as you may need to prove it Get a second opinion if you’re not convinced about any contract you’ve been presented with Educate yourself on the official disagreement process should you wish to challenge a status ruling On the other side of the coin, hiring clients are also apprehensive about the new legislation, particularly with recent research claiming that contractors will be prepared to walk away from projects if hiring companies are not fully ready and compliant with IR35. On top of that potential talent shortage, hiring clients will also have the onus of determining who is inside and outside of IR35 and are also ultimately liable for payments to HMRC should the contractual chain fail at any stage. With the cost and responsibilities on employers significant, it’s surprising that almost half of businesses are yet to tackle IR35 when there are steps that they can take too to prepare: Review existing contractors and identify their status individually, using the online CEST service should you wish Review the contracts, roles and requirements that you have historically placed on contractors, as many clauses could hint at a “disguised employee”. Do the maths – consider that there might be additional payroll and NIC’s to take on board Review your job advertising – you will need to clarify future contract roles with an eye on IR35 If you would like any advice on IR35, either from a contractor or hiring client point of view, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Responses to IR35

The government’s recent IR35 private sector consultation has elicited strong responses from multiple organisations keen to show their frustration and concern that extending the public sector rules into the private sector would be damaging to say the least. Bodies such as the ICAEW, REC, CBI and IPSE have all officially responded to the proposed April 2020 rules, highlighting fundamental flaws in the proposed legislation, particularly in its lack of scope to even address the failings of the public sector off-payroll rules that have had such a controversial impact and resulted in high-profile tribunal cases. One of the key issues with the latest consultation proposals is the timing. The impact of Brexit is still an unknown and as such, companies of all sizes have based their growth and hiring plans on skilled interim professionals. Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, interim talent is here to stay, both as a lifestyle choice for professionals and as the ideal way to complete projects that don’t justify full-time hires. It is estimated that almost a quarter of the UK’s workforce now works on a contingent basis as a contractor or consultant. There are very few people in it to avoid tax, which is HMRC’s claim, with the vast majority taking their specific skills to a variety of projects as and when they choose, depending on their other work/life priorities. To this end, the bulk of public responses have agreed that April 2020 is at least one year too early to even consider implementing change. The detail of the legislation is too great for us to address each point, but the criticism across the board was wide-reaching on everything from employment rights; the HMRC’s own tools for employment status checking; through to pointless tax exemptions for smaller companies. While much of the press on the consultation has focused on the employee angle, the responsibilities that will fall on employers shouldn’t be underestimated either. Businesses will have to look at their vetting procedures, contracts, payroll and even their job advertising to ensure complete clarity. The 2017 public sector IR35 roll-out had a similar negative response, which saw among other reactions, an exodus of contractors from the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office, and even HMRC itself. HMRC that time stood by its proposals (and its additional £500m in tax revenue) so it remains to be seen what their reaction to the criticism over the private sector rules will be. Perhaps there will be inevitable amends once we know the outcome of Brexit, maybe we’ll even see a complete overhaul of the UK tax system – the only thing we know in these times of economic and political uncertainty is that anything could happen!

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Work/life balance: parenting

While this blog is mainly aimed at parents, it’s important to stress from the outset that a healthy work/life balance should be the goal of everyone, regardless of whether they have children or not. We all have commitments, outside interests and a life away from work, but the majority of articles written on the subject seem to focus on “family life” above those who don’t have those responsibilities, and so, advance apologies for this. As if the quest for a better work/life balance wasn’t hard enough, for parents of younger children it can even more of a minefield, given their eating and sleeping schedules are traditionally much earlier than our own. As the classic 9 to 5 job disappears, leaving the office promptly is also becoming a thing of the past. While flexible hours and locations are great, the work culture of many companies has become a greyer area, where the employee leaves when their work is done rather than when the clock strikes 5. Staying late to finish something, even for 15 minutes for commuters who might miss a train, can have the knock-on effect of committing the parenting sin of “missing bedtime”. Because kids’ bedtimes often involve some kind of ritual (a bath, stories in bed etc.), a lot of parents can be consumed by guilt if they miss it. Not all them – I know at least one father who will park around the corner from home if he’s accidentally home early to make sure he misses (the hell of) bedtime! Explaining to little people exactly why you miss bedtime sometimes and what work actually is can be difficult – there’s even a book out to make this easier called Tick Tock Till Bedtime, which also celebrates working parents and helps make the challenges faced by them more understandable for young children. It not only enables parents to have a conversation about the world of work, but also readies children for the positive message that careers are important – for both parents – and sows early seeds about the importance of getting the balance between work and home life right. Research shows that almost a third of parents miss bedtime at least three nights a week, due to working late. But parents aside, there have also been countless surveys on the negative impact on mental health of working long hours, and plenty of articles about presenteeism still being an issue, so while adding children into the mix is one extra obstacle, it’s never been more important for all of us to continue striving for that healthy work/life balance.

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