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Jun 22, 2020 | International Payments

Rethinking the Global Mobility space

As businesses weather the COVID-19 storm, Global Mobility leaders are amongst those navigating their way through 2020.

Last Friday, our Head of Account Management for the UK, Ashley Phillips joined a panel discussion led by our partner Expat Academy alongside Mike Hibberd, CEO of Global Expat Pay and Tom Standring, Head of Global Mobility at Hitachi. Together they gave insight on the challenges COVID-19 has brought to the global mobility industry and ways in which businesses can recover. Below we touch on some of the key points covered in the session.

How has COVID-19 impacted Global Mobility?

The pandemic, more than ever, has shed light on the complexities of this business function. Mike comments ‘COVID-19 has exposed gaps in the ability to constantly monitor, track and maintain records for key assignee data points.’ These inefficiencies ultimately end up costing the business precious time and resource, as well as increased costs. Ashley went on to explain how COVID-19 also highlighted how volatile currency markets can be, and the impacts this has on global mobility programs; ‘currency fluctuations make it much harder to control, budget and ultimately forecast for these often unpredictable changes to cost.’ 

What are the biggest concerns/updates to the Global Mobility sector right now?

As we move through this period, forecasts are emerging that state the global economy will shrink rather than expand, as first thought at the start of the year. It is therefore no surprise that for many businesses, cost saving is becoming an increasing focus. Global Mobility leaders will be looking at ways they can reduce costs and streamline processes going forward. Tom shed light on how Hitachi have already begun the transformation of their Global Mobility approach, commenting ‘we needed to look at our policies, assignment management technology and our whole operating model, which is very manual and therefore labour intensive’  adding there is  ‘pressure on us to digitalise and transform global mobility to drive internal efficiency and reduce external costs’.

How does the sectors’ needs differ from other industries?

Global Mobility creates significant financial and operational complexity for businesses. It is unlike other functions, as although assignees only contribute to 1-2% of the workforce, they take up a disproportionate amount of time and resource to manage. GM teams also have to manage a vast amount of different departments within their own business (including finance, HR, payroll etc) as well as managing external factors such as relocation agencies, international vendors and local tax and compliance.

As the session came to a close, the panel reflected on how COVID-19 has amplified the many complexities and pressures being applied to Global Mobility. However, at the end of the day providing a positive assignee experience is at the heart of this vital business function when moving an employee from A to B. Tom commented that Hitachi ‘are using the delay in new assignments as an opportunity to get some of this missing infrastructure in place to make the assignee experience better. Mike remarks that ‘getting this right [payroll, payments] at the start builds trust in the assignment operations.’ Ashley followed with ‘a key driver for employee happiness is pay, so ensuring assignees are paid on time and in full is vital for a positive assignee experience’.

For more information on our products and services for the Global Mobility industry, visit our page here.