6prog interviews | Richard Kettle

Richard has been a contractor for the past 15 years. His clients have included UBS, Credit Suisse and Barclays. 6prog wanted to learn more about his experiences and to share them.

“Hi Richard,  what have you been up to recently?”

I most recently have been working on TBTF projects, where systematically important financial institutions were deemed to pose a serious risk to the economy in the event of collapse. Because of this, regulators insisted these banks “ring fenced” certain aspects of their operations and I was tasked with helping to create and build these new entities to meet this regulatory request. We also created a business solutions entity to ensure the non-regulated business was funded and managed in the event of a collapse of a trading entity. 

This then led on to Brexit planning as this would also require the creation of a new entity within the EU. These projects were typically 18 months each in duration. 

“How much of the bank does this type of project affect?”

I covered group risk control in London and Zurich, which included, Credit/Market/Operational risk and compliance. My role was to build and implement the standardised set of project tools to be used. This included the runbook, budget planning, on boarding of external staff, RAID log, SharePoint site, governance decks, Steerco meeting material and scrum sessions amongst other tasks. I also had to help with the creation of TOM documentation, BRD, BRSIT, ARS as well as policy documentation and service level agreement documentation.

“What was a key take-away in this project?”

I learned during my time on the trading desk working in the middle office on a previous role the importance of having a plan and process and how important documenting and being able to prove something or to be audited is to a project or team. The basic concept I keep in mind when working on a project is that to deliver on time and on budget we need to have a clear step by step guide from where we are to where we need to be. We know things are likely to move and change and we are agile enough to factor that into our planning, but we need a tangible set of activities or milestones to deliver and a plan of how we do that. These milestones have to be clear, understandable (by non-business people such as audit) simple enough to be measured/tracked and then when closed have the closing document to prove it. But the most important thing to remember is that it’s people that will deliver these projects and if you can’t find a way to get from each member of the team their contribution then we all suffer, so strong people skills/relationship building is my first starting point. 

“How do you deal with challenges?”

I have found that in every project you will face issues and that’s why we have a RAID log! But the biggest obstacle is when people do not set realistic targets/milestones or re-evaluate them during the project. Hiding behind an amber rag status and hoping for something that isn’t likely to happen causes problems that just do not need to be there. If you plan well using clear statements that are measurable and where you need to, you update your approach, keep on top of your dependencies and where others depend on you, and are led correctly by a strong PM or PMO function things should go to plan…. Also, at the start, think of the known unknowns, the unknown unknowns and document them. They might come up again later and you need to demonstrate they were part of your thinking!!!!

“What is your biggest achievement?”

I am proud to say that all of my projects have come in on time and on or under budget. This is down to correctly tracking the spend, spending where it’s needed, having the right people in the right roles and having clear leadership and targets/milestones. If you have a plan, are agile enough and honest enough to change as you require and the people are the right people then you stand a great chance of delivering, on time, on budget every time!

www.6prog.com

6prog members

I have a fundamental vision about supporting people and organisations through change. I am dedicated to encouraging businesses – from start ups to bluechip – to develop and flourish, and ensure the best possible end results.

My substantial expertise in financial services, transport, retail, supply chain, manufacturing, and outsourcing makes a highly influential leader, with an ability to work in matrix environments globally, across multi-cultural and multi-functional teams, engaging stakeholders at all levels.

I am an experienced programme director, running large cross functional teams, coordinating phased moves of people, systems and machinery. By employing synergised processes, I am able to quickly deliver – often exceeding targets – reduced footprints and centralisation, whilst increasing functional capacity and enhancing customer service; resulting in significant savings and benefits. Strong emotional intelligence to be able to rally and deploy extensive operational improvement teams where necessary and to garner the support and focus of the key people around the change – be they client teams or colleagues and associates.

For more profiles like this see 6prog.com and contact hello@6prog.com if you are interested in talking to the above consultant. Click the logo below to register.

6prog members

My experience is across strategic initiatives and transformation, technological, regulatory, organisational and cultural change.

Having most recently supported a major global bank to prepare its teams and clients for some of the biggest regulatory shake ups in recent times, I have the proven knowledge and expertise to work with businesses and stakeholders of all levels, to plan and execute projects and programmes effectively; from taking ideas and building business cases, through to realising the expected benefits and vision, along with advising on suitable governance structures and efficient ways of operating.

For more profiles like this see 6prog.com and contact hello@6prog.com if you are interested in talking to the above consultant. Click the logo below to register.

This company just fixed the most annoying thing about contract recruitment… (hidden margins)

This is not a freelancer ‘sob story’ and neither is this blog about the challenges of procurement leads pushing contract agencies for lower margins.

It’s a story about the human interaction between a project manager and a freelancer.

make your valuable network valuable

Hidden agency margins hurt the freelancer and the manager because neither is able to ascertain what level of work is required or should be expected based on the set fee.

An example:
A project manager hires a developer for 12 months at a cost of £700 per day who is in fact paid £560 by the agency.
For the PM this is a stretch. It is slightly above the ideal budget and now it is a necessity the developer works fast to bring in the work early and come under project budget.
For the developer this is a job taken because of timing and ‘if a better paid job comes along’ it will be hard for the freelancer to reject it.
4 weeks into the project the PM has a one-to-one with the developer to discuss the pace of the work. In theory neither are contractually permitted to disclose the rate. (This only helps the agency and is a policy that is often disregarded).
The PM mentions the stresses they are under on budget control. Casually the freelancer mentions they are also concerned as the agent said budget was a pressure so a low daily rate was applied.
Both sides feel uneasy. Neither side is at fault.

Another example:
A project manager asks an agency to find a developer for a 12 month contract. They do. High fives all round.
The agency supplies an excellent selection of profiles and following some interviews one developer is selected who joins the project a few weeks later.
Unfortunately the management is changed, and the business direction is under question so the project is halted immediately. Two weeks payment is made to the agency and most of this is passed to the freelancer.
All that work for 2 weeks of margin. Is this good trade?

A final example:
A project manager and a freelancer catch up having worked together a few years ago.
As luck would have it, one is in need of a freelancer and the other has just finished a contract.
Procurement policy dictates an agency should be used to manage the papertrail, help on timesheets and invoicing and keep the relationship IR35 friendly.
A call is put in to a known agency … what margin can you charge if I give you a candidate?
(Frankly I’d prefer you offered us the work at our normal margins but) “how about 10%?”
Both sides have done the other a favour yet neither have received one!

As shown by the above it is good news that 6prog designed a platform with managers, freelancers and recruiters’ best interests in mind. An ultra low services charge for paperless paperwork that streamlines the process, a fixed fee for recruitment services (or networking introductions) AND no hidden margins.

Going freelance in 6 steps

6prog Freelancer : Benefits

1/ Decide what you are selling. List out your key skills and accomplishments. Clients will typically want to know about pieces of work that you have started, managed and completed.

2/ Invest in some good kit. If you are a designer you will need the correct hardware. Whatever type of freelancing you do, you will need to communicate; well and often. Make sure your phone, email and social media accounts work. Set your 6prog alerts to ‘on’.

3/ Decide where you are keen to work – internationally or in your home town? What are the laws that dictate how much tax you need to pay and what are the costs of living in that place?

4/ Who is in your network who will help you? Other freelancers, recruiters who know you, and networking sites can keep your business private and also give you recognition and new clients that you are in control of.

5/ Blogs: keep learning. If you have made it to point five you are already doing this!

6/ Select some business tools to help you stay organised. Blog coming soon on some of our favourites.

Continue reading “Going freelance in 6 steps”

The difference between a contractor and a freelancer.

You have probably seen the terms ‘contractor’ and ‘freelancer’. If you’re self employed you’ll likely fall into one of these two categories.

A contractor is a person who provides services to a person or organisation (a client) for a specified and finite period of time. A contractor usually meets the following characteristics:

  • Works on one contract at a time for one client
  • Does not operate under standard employment, but rather a contract that defines their arrangement with their client for a defined period of time
  • Are not on their client’s payroll
  • Is set up as a sole trader, a limited company contractor or an umbrella company contractor
  • Commonly found in the IT, engineering, public sector, health, education, social work, finance and consulting industries

A contractor’s contract will stipulate their working arrangements, which will determine whether they are genuinely self-employed or temporarily employed under the guise of self-employment. This is referred to as being outside or inside ‘IR35 legislation’.

A freelancer also provides services to a client for a finite period of time. However, this period of time is not always specified. Here are the characteristics of a typical freelancer:

  • Might be working on several freelance projects at once for different clients
  • May not necessarily operate under a contract the same way as a contractor
  • More often works from home or from their own office than the client’s office, because as they are less likely to have stipulated working hours. They are more likely to have to dedicate a certain amount of hours per day or week, but not at specific times
  • Similarly to contractors, freelancers aren’t on their client’s payroll
  • Will also be set up as either a sole trader, as a limited company director or will be getting paid via an umbrella company
  • Commonly found in creative industries such as digital marketing, graphic design, media, publishing, and architecture

Contractors and freelancers aren’t subject to the same employment rights as permanent employees. The term ‘freelancer’ is simply a way to describe the nature of your work; it is not a legal term – therefore a freelancer will still fall under the term of ‘self-employed person’. As such, freelancers will also have to consider their working circumstances to determine if they work inside or outside IR35.

How they get paid

Because freelancers are free to set their own rates per-project and based on how much experience they have, it is more financially beneficial to contract through a limited company as they can open themselves up to more opportunities with clients whilst maximising their take-home pay.

That’s not to say that contractors can’t chase the rates they desire, but more often than not the rates for a contract are already pre-set by the client or the agency. If the contractor is not satisfied with the rate, they can try to negotiate for higher pay.

If your assignment is deemed to be inside IR35, you have some options:

  • Continue working through your limited company – you could continue to contract in the public sector through your limited company, and accept the lower take home pay you will receive. You will also no longer be able to claim certain expenses.
  • Negotiate a higher rate – adjusting your rate to make up for the loss in take home pay is an option, although an adjustment that your client will agree to might not make up for the loss.
  • Switch to umbrella – switching to a compliant umbrella company means you won’t have to pay any Corporation Tax or dividend tax on top of paying income tax and employees NI, and you will receive employee benefits unavailable to you when contracting through a limited company. Find out more about switching to umbrella.
  • Leave the public sector – as many contractors have chosen, you also have the option to leave the public sector for the private sector, where these rules to do not apply to the same extent.

Source: https://www.churchill-knight.co.uk