Compensation and payroll - post truth age where facts and experts don’t matter? Not really…

22 March 2017

It seems to me that one of the most difficult challenges organisations face when managing expatriate compensation and payrolls is a lack of true expertise. It isn't that knowledge and experience is completely lacking. It's just that it tends to be fragmented and dispersed and there are very few people who can combine the granular detail with the big picture. It often comes back to the age old problem - global mobility people aren't payroll specialists and local payroll teams have limited global mobility knowledge. So then, how do you bring the two groups together or find an individual with the perfect skills set?

This is where I reflect on my own background and on recent experience. Working in the expatriate compensation and payroll space I have released that it is the mix that matters.  It is the combination of experience, knowledge and expertise.  It is the theoretical combined with the practical. It is an understanding of the correct technical position combined with the realistic practical action. You can't teach this mix but it can be achieved through experience.

As an example, where I have seen this combination come together is through colleagues who have recently returned from a long term secondment in house with a client expatriate payroll team. Their return has proved to be a bit of a revelation to me. It has made me understand that whilst as advisors and consultants we can have all of the 'correct' answers, it doesn't mean that we have the 'right' answers.  

Combining the expatriate tax, mobility and consultant background with real practical experience helps to ensure that we reach the 'right' answers and ‘solutions’ for all interested parties. What I am advocating is a diversity of experience.  As advisors we need to spend more time with clients, understanding their challenges and actually being with them, shoulder to shoulder solving them.  

From a personal perspective I've shifted focus area, specialism and role over the course of my career, all within global mobility but it has certainly a mix.  It is the time I spend with clients, away from my usual base that really makes a difference for me and I feel like I am now benefiting from this diversity of experience and have the confidence to bring this to bear when working with clients and colleagues. I see the same with my colleagues and have been impressed with their ability to bring a different, almost non consultant perspective to projects.  

Expertise does matter and can make a striking difference. The challenge in this space is that it is hard to manufacture and there isn't a single template.The experts are out there though and making a positive and meaningful contributions. I'm looking forward to sharing experiences, collaborating and learning as I meet them.

 

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