The Required Contingent
Richard Stevens, founder of The Momenta Group reveals the challenge of helping global financial institutions stay compliant
A contingent workforce for a problem we all know.
It’s just one example but PPI (payment protection insurance) cost financial services, £53 billion to resolve. Since regulation hit the sector in the early 1990s, companies from insurers to banks, have had to grapple to produce well-trained, highly proficient teams – for set periods (rather than full time) – to become compliant and get back on track.
Creating these ‘on-demand’ or contingent resource teams of highly skilled individuals, to help financial services firms deal with short term needs, is what we have been specialising in for the past 30 years – since the tightening of financial regulations.
While PPI is now largely over, the UK and other countries still face a multitude of staffing challenges which require short term, contingent or supply contract resourcing – to handle everything from digital transformation, financial crime, to legal, and training and development.
Our future very much lies in helping countries around the world solve their own versions compliance problems, within retail financial services, among others.
Serving the on-demand and flexible global workforce
There is a clear evolution that has taken place in the workplace with rapid changes occurring due to globalisation. Companies are adapting their traditional working models to be more agile, flexible and remain competitive in an ‘on demand’ economy. They are under pressure to increase productivity while keeping their costs (head count) low, causing staffing challenges such as having enough on-hand resource to handle projects and big skill gaps between the people they do have at hand.
And this is where we’ve stepped in: We provide ‘ready to go’, skilled and vetted individuals and teams to meet all these shortfalls, on demand, at scale, for as long or as short as they are required – most importantly, cost effective.
How my career led me to Momenta’s present calling
I can safely say that I’ve ‘lived’ every step of the industry, in that I’ve worked in retail financial services long before I started providing resourcing solutions for the market. Having left university ‘prematurely’ because of a desire to get into the world of work, I joined The Halifax as a trainee bank clerk, who would later rise up the ranks. It’s when I moved into selling insurance, (Allied Dunbar) that I had the ideas for ‘cross selling,’ through contacts at motor insurance shops, long before partner marketing was around. This allowed me to build my network through the world of financial services.
Opportunities brought by regulation hitting retail financial services
In the late 1980s regulation began to sweep across financial services to protect consumers. The industry was largely ‘in denial’ about the dire need. With partners in 1990, we set up a training materials company (called Ad Valorum) for retail financial services. Nearly all major banks and insurers bought the material, but staff largely ignored it until Norwich Union was famously sanctioned by fine and the suspension of its sales reps for mis-selling policies. This pivotal turning point for the industry unleashed the crucial need for high level compliance and training.
The makings of a contingent resourcing business model
Beyond training material, my partners and I were asked to help retrain sales staff at Norwich Union – all 2500 of them. It was new territory as there were no companies delivering compliance training at this level, with all the checking, training and rechecking required. Still, this journey required us to take things to the next level.
“Please can you send 400 people now!”
The Momenta brand first appeared in the early 2000s, when our then business focused on supplying teams to assist with the emerging need for past business reviews, including endowment reviews and pensions, until PPI dominated the landscape from 2008 onwards. At that time, we received weekly calls where it was commonplace to hear “please can you send 400 people now!” – and so began a major growth phase for our business.
A new offering for the UK and global outreach
We formally launched the Momenta Group in 2016 with a new purpose and agenda: To serve the UK’s financial services sector beyond the ‘clean up’ and to expand abroad to meet similar emerging demands in other territories.
In the UK, the company has since focused on technology, legal, and training and development, while remaining true to its core market of financial services.
We have ventured to Australia where their regulation and implementation is seen to be about a decade behind the UK. History repeated itself in that country most recently with The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry – following the lack of regulatory intervention by the relevant government authorities.
We have also opened offices in the USA in 2018 to deal with federal, versus national financial services regulation. Additionally, we opened in India (2019) where the country faces major national compliance alignment challenges – to support the ever-increasing global offshoring trends for back office functions.
COVID-19’s effect on the contingent workforce
Writing this at a time when COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the world, maintaining compliance is even more important than during seemingly ‘normal’ times. Not just in keeping regulation, but also in an adjusted way of working, not least with work from home (WFH) fast becoming a new normal – bringing with it a host of new changes. We have had to create many WFH teams for our clients at speed.
Within the sectors we serve we’ve noticed an additional volume of work across financial services.
From lenders to insurers, additional workforce to support the volume of queries and applications as a result of COVID is needed, right now. They’re dealing with everything from management of schemes implemented by the government to support the public and businesses to stay afloat to increased policy claims caused due to the high level of unemployment or worse mortality that has resulted from the virus. These are just as a few examples.
While we know the virus will eventually recede, the effects of it will take a considerable time to clean up and this is one key example of how we see the need for our solution in the years to come.