What is agile working?

Agile working is increasingly used in companies of all sizes and in almost all branches, including banks and financial institutions.

What is agile?

Agile working is a flexible way of working in project structures. It originates from the IT world, where developers had to be able to respond quickly to the changing needs of the market.
Activities are divided into small, clear components and are distributed among the team. These smaller projects/activities are called sprints. Adjustments can be made after each sprint, so that continuously changing processes or market requirements can be anticipated.

Functions and function levels in an agile environment

An agile team consists of employees with similar positions from different disciplines at a comparable level. Frequently, there is no longer a team leader who divides the work, instead the team does this itself.

Are there still promotional opportunities within an agile work environment?

An agile organisation is formally a flat organisation with few function levels. The question then, is whether you can still have a career in an agile environment where everyone works at the same level? The traditional way of forging a career has disappeared, but you will grow in terms of knowledge and skills, meaning you can continue to advance in terms of function, salary and responsibilities. People comfortable with hierarchy and job titles within an organisation will have to adapt in an agile environment.

Performance appraisals, who with?

Within agile teams there is no middle management and thus no managers to take responsibility for tasks. Through a 360-degree feedback process, your colleagues will describe how they perceive working with you and where any points for improvement lie. These replace the traditional performance appraisals.

What is it like working without managers?

The development of your career within an agile work environment is primarily self-dependant. This is due to the fact that the teams you work in are self-managing, each with its own expertise. You regularly ask each other for feedback. In this way you learn proactively from each other and you can further develop within the team.

Recruitment & temporary staff

A different type of organisation requires a different way of working, and therefore also a different type of employee. The demand for people will therefore change with it.

Temporary or permanent staff?

Do you opt for temporary or permanent staff? In practice, we see that organisations want to maintain a certain flexibility in their workforce. This is often achieved by initially hiring employees as temporary staff, before offering them a permanent contract. As a result, organisations are not directly tied to employees when a project is completed. The new generation of employees often have less of an issue with this. They do not have the ambition for career-long commitment to an employer, often preferring to work on a project basis so they can switch if their learning curve declines. All the fun, without the ties.

What is sustainable personnel policy?

Sustainable – who isn’t familiar with this word?! It is used for a myriad of things, and now also for personnel policy. So, what actually is ‘sustainable personnel policy’? According to the dictionary, sustainable is ‘causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time’. But how do you apply this to your work and to your own role as an employee or employer? We believe that long-term, good (mental) health and doing what suits you are the principles for a sustainable personnel policy.

Joint role

Early retirement is a thing of the past. People continue to work to an increasingly advanced age, with the retirement age shifting as a result. In addition, the expectations that employers have of their employees are also constantly changing. Skills that were once a reason for promotion have lost their relevance and vice versa. The only way to remain ‘sustainably employable’ as an employee is to change with these expectations. Vice versa, it is also the employer’s responsibility to give employees space to develop and grow with these evolving expectations.

Three practical tips regarding sustainable personnel policy:

  1. Ensure that you keep learning as employee. Use your annual training budget! Many Collective Labour Agreements (CAOs) include (personal) education budgets but are simply not used. So…learn!
  2. Select not only courses for your current position, but also adjacent areas. Preferably coinciding with your personal interests. This makes you employable in the long-term and results in something that suits you.
  3. Keep innovating and looking for ways to do your daily work better. Long-term employability is key.

Sustainability is a form of collaboration…

A sustainable personnel policy is making as much use as possible of every individual’s talents. Which means that it is beneficial for you, and your employer, to know what your talents are. By talking about, and trying out the possibilities together, you can only grow in your working life. A little bit of yourself and a little help from your employer.

What is a Pre-Employment Screening (PES)?

A Pre-employment screening (PES) is a background check that takes place before you are able to start working for your employer. Nearly all banks and financial institutions require a PES-screening and it is often already stated in the job vacancy.

It is essential that financial institutions are safe and operate with integrity. For this purpose, the DNB therefore assesses the trustworthiness of the highest management and supervisory board members. Banks carry out this check for their own employees. Your function will determine how extensive this check is. According to the Financial Supervision Act, these employees may only start work if the bank has made an assessment of their trustworthiness. This assessment is the so-called pre-employment screening. This integrity requirement applies not only to employees employed by the bank, but also to temporary staff, seconded employees and freelancers.

The exact details of the pre-employment screening differ per bank. A number of our clients have outsourced this pre-employment screening to Total Solutions. In that case, we go through established procedures before employees can start.

The PES often comprises two parts:

  1. Identity and qualification check

As agency, we only propose candidates whose identity and qualifications have been checked. To this end, Total Solutions has developed a procedure that complies with the laws and regulations required. This check consists of:

  • Identity check. Passport or ID is verified for authenticity and whether you are who you say you are. A scan is made of your passport, that we certify and save in a secure environment.
  • Qualification check: our clients also want us to verify the qualifications. And so, we request that you provide the original certificates of your highest, completed education. These too will be scanned, certified and saved in a secure environment.
  1. Further screening

If you are offered a position by one of our clients (permanent, temporary, seconded, or freelance), further screening will follow:

  • Application for a Certificate of Good Conduct (VOG). A VOG can be requested from the local council. In the VOG you must indicate the purpose of the application. The purpose of the application also partly determines the aspects that will be screened.
  • Reference Check: many of our clients require confirmation from your last employer on your CV that you actually worked there.
  • Integrity Check: your previous employers will also be asked to sign a form confirming your integrity.
  • BKR screening: The BKR registers all loans and credit, including any defaults, of individuals in the Netherlands. If someone is heavily in debt or is registered as a defaulter, this can constitute an integrity risk.
  • You will also be asked to sign compliance and confidentiality documents and sign the banker’s oath.

Screening conditions

A PES screening is sensitive because you have to share confidential information. For the GDPR privacy legislation, the PES screening of Total Solutions falls into the category of legitimate interest. Justification is based on the fact that the prospective employer is legally obliged to check its employees for integrity and trustworthiness.

Protection of Personal Information Act

Both Total Solutions and the bank or financial institution work in accordance with the GDPR guidelines for the PES screening. This means, among other things, that Total Solutions and the employer have taken adequate measures to protect this information. There is also a duty to report to the Dutch Data Protection Authority in case of data leaks.

Do you have to undergo a PES screening for your future employer? Don’t worry, it is simply to verify that the information you have provided is correct. Although we need a lot of personal information, we are required by law to handle this information with care.

If you are unsure about a PES screening, then it is advisable to discuss this in advance. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to lose.

Working with Calypso

In the constantly changing world of financial institutions, technology has an essential role within the processes. The Calypso is software that makes the entire process, from front office to back office, transparent and measurable.

Who supplies Calypso?

Calypso Technology was founded in 1997. The head office is located in San Francisco, with twenty other offices in eighteen different countries. Calypso has developed an integrated software package with which large financial institutions can monitor and optimise their processes and carry out risk management with one single package. They have won various awards for best IT package, with their most important product being the ‘Bank in a Box’, providing insight into the processes, from front to back office.

What does Calypso do?

Calypso Technology is specialised in asset management, risk management, clearing, investment management, capital markets and more. With its integrated approach, Calypso makes this complex process transparent, providing insight into both problems and opportunities. This makes it possible for financial institutions to make processes clear and to manage risks. The goal of Calypso is to structure the processes as efficiently as possible so that time can be used optimally.

Calypso Officer

Calypso Officer supports the developers in rolling out change processes. You help with testing and report the findings.

Calypso Functional Manager

As Functional Manager you are the link between business and IT. You support users when issues arise. You are also the contact person between the Calypso supplier and the IT organisation, facilitating the implementation of any needs.

Calypso Specialist

As Calypso Specialist you help with the development and implementation of new processes. You are the Calypso specialist and can be deployed to help with change processes. The function is diverse, bringing you into contact with various departments within the organisation, from front office to back office.

Business Analyst with Calypso experience

A Business Analyst works with IT departments to structure the processes as efficiently as possible for business. You are positioned within the organisation between the business and IT department. The objective of the business analyst is to translate the wishes of the business into practical IT solutions.

Do you have experience with Calypso and are you curious about where you can further apply this expertise? We have several clients who are continually looking for people with Calypso experience.

Working with SimCorp Dimension

Banks and financial institutions often use IT packages from specialist suppliers to automate their processes. By using third-party packages, banks do not have to develop such systems themselves, avoiding all the associated risks. A good example of an IT package that is used by many financial institutions, is SimCorp Dimension.

What is SimCorp Dimension?

SimCorp Dimension is the flagship of SimCorp, one of the largest suppliers of software packages for financial services. SimCorp Dimension is an integrated solution to manage the registration and measurement of investments. This system is specially designed for asset management.

What does SimCorp Dimension do?

SimCorp Dimension is a software package that integrates the entire process of asset management, from front office to back office, by means of a portfolio management system. The SimCorp Dimension software package is used by many of market leaders in the financial markets to manage, improve and make investments more transparent. The package makes it possible for investors to monitor all of their investments in one system.

SimCorp Dimension Specialist

As SimCorp Dimension Specialist, you play an important role within asset management, overseeing all the processes. As SimCorp Dimension specialist, you are continually working on improving the process and can be deployed to help with change processes. The function is very dynamic, bringing you into contact with various roles within the organisation, from business controllers to the end users.

SimCorp Dimension Officer

A SimCorp Dimension Officer works within the Functional Management and Data Management department. You will work in a team of data analysts, where you will perform data-analysis and investigate possible improvements. Your results will be reported in pragmatic advice.

SimCorp Dimension Functional Manager

As Functional Manager, you are the link between business and IT. You are the point of contact when issues arise within the process. It is important you have knowledge of both business processes and IT systems. You are also responsible for translating the wishes of the business into pragmatic IT solutions.

Business Analyst with experience of SimCorp Dimension

Business Analyst supports the business with the setting up and optimising of business processes. Within the organisation, you are positioned between the business and supporting departments. The objective of the business analyst is to translate the needs of the business into practical solutions, taking into account business operations aspects.

Do you have experience of SimCorp Dimension and are you looking for a job where you can use this expertise? We have several clients who are continually looking for people with SimCorp experience.

What does a business controller do?

Business Controller helps the management of a business with the financial housekeeping. The main focus is on the planning and control cycle within a company, which consists of financial reports, investment analyses, cost settlements, balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, budgets, the annual accounts, and multi-year planning. Another important task is to improve operational processes and controls.

A business controller also looks at the optimisation of processes. Together with the operations manager, the business controller explores elevating the processes to a higher level and draws up the relevant plans.

Financial controller vs business controller

The positions of financial controller and business controller may seem similar, but they are different functions with different tasks and responsibilities. The financial controller is primarily concerned with the financial aspect of the company. Compiling financial reports, analysing the results and communicating these within the organisation. In contrast, the analyses by the business controller should lead to more efficient use of resources within the company, and thus cost saving.

Business controllers within the organisation

The business controller usually reports directly to management. The managers draw up a strategy for the future, after which the business controller translates this strategy into measurable objectives, also known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Processes are made measurable and adjusted over time so that long-term objectives are achieved. Advice and insights to management are therefore crucial in order to make timely adjustments.

Activities

Activities of the business controller include:

  • Translating strategic management objectives into measurable KPIs;
  • Knowing the ins and outs of the market, making predictions for the future based on this;
  • Analyses of the business processes and reporting these to the management;
  • Monitoring budgets;
  • Initiating improvement processes and maintaining control of implementation;
  • Carrying out commercial analyses and sketching strategic scenario analyses.

Responsibilities

As business controller you are responsible for the following:

  • Control of business processes and budgeting;
  • Reporting findings to management, so that timely adjustments can be made to achieve the objectives;
  • Maintaining contact with internal and external stakeholders.

Job requirements

Virtually every business controller must meet the following requirements:

  • Often, a MSc financial-oriented degree;
  • Hands-on mentality and the ability to work independently;
  • Good communication skills in both Dutch and English;
  • Solid analytical skills.

What does an asset manager do?

Asset Managers invest money on behalf of their clients. With the objective of achieving the highest possible return, within the set agreements. Clients include pension funds, insurance companies and institutional investors, but private investors can also make use of an asset manager. What is invested in, depends on the client’s requirements, the so-called mandate.

What is asset management?

Asset management is the management of a portfolio of assets that you invest for a client.  On the basis of the mandate and by means of selection, risk analyses and market developments, you determine where you do or do not want to invest. This way, you grow your portfolio with as little risk as possible. Within asset management, a distinction is made between individual asset management and collective asset management.

A portfolio can consist of bonds, shares or a combination of both, but there are also portfolios in real estate or green investments. Alternative investments are a growing investment in the current market.

What is a mandate?

The mandate is the set of rules that the client gives to the asset manager about where or not to invest.

These rules are entirely down to the discretion of the parties involved and often contain clauses about:

  1. Investment categories, for example shares, obligations, real estate, or even natural resources;
  2. Geography, in what countries and regions assets can(not) be invested;
  3. Currency risks, in which currencies assets can be invested and whether the currency risk must be hedged or not;
  4. In addition, specific investments can be excluded that for example do not comply with rules on corporate and social responsibility, arms and tobacco or male-female relationships.

Benchmark

Based on the mandate, a benchmark can be agreed upon. The benchmark is an index against which the growth of the assets can be compared. A simple example is that if the mandate only allows investment in AEX funds, then it makes sense to use the AEX as a benchmark. If the returns achieved by the asset manager are higher than the AEX, the asset manager has done well, better than the index.

Net Asset Value (NAV)

Reporting is a daily task of an asset manager. The Net Asset Value (NAV) is reported daily. The NAV is the value of all underlying investments in the portfolio. Making the reports and calculating the NAV is a specialised field.

What will you do as an asset manager?

The asset manager takes care of a portfolio of assets. It is the job of the asset manager to analyse this portfolio for possible risks, costs and revenues. With the information obtained, well-considered choices can be made so that the portfolio performs optimally for the client. Subsequently, the value of the portfolio grows with as few risks as possible.

Activities of an asset manager

  • Monitoring the performances of the portfolio;
  • Carrying out risk analyses;
  • Identifying costs;
  • Determining the budgeting for the assets in the portfolio;
  • Advising management regarding optimisations of the business processes.

Job requirements of an asset manager

  • Minimum HBO/WO (higher vocational/academic education) thinking level;
  • Excellent analytical skills;
  • Knowledge of financial markets;
  • Good communication skills;
  • Independent and decisive.

What does a CDD analyst do?

A Customer Due Diligence Analyst is an important function within banks and insurance companies. The position is becoming ever more important, especially with the new privacy regulations and an increasing focus on illegal flows of money from criminals, tax fraudsters and terrorists. A Customer Due Diligence (CDD) analyst investigates new and existing customers. If banks or insurers allow illegal flows of money through their organisation, they run a huge risk of prosecution by regulators or damage to their reputation should it leak to the media. It is the CDD analyst who investigates whether (potential) customers form risk factors for the organisation.

Customer Due Diligence investigation

Identifying illegal money flows starts with a thorough investigation into who is behind it. The unravelling of ownership structures of Limited companies, PLCs and foundations, both domestic and abroad, and looking at the activities and decision-makers of these entities. After unravelling the ownership structure, there must be sufficient current documentation collected to demonstrate that the bank or insurer has complied with its legal obligations for the identification and acceptance of new customers. These regulations have been created to ward off criminal companies guilty of financial and economic crimes, such as money laundering, fraud and the financing of terrorist activities.

Sanctions Act

Several sanction acts and lists apply to Dutch financial institutions. For example, the Netherlands has its own lists, but must also take the lists of other international institutions (such as the UN) and countries into account. The US sanctions list, in particular, can have a significant impact on the bank or insurer. Institutions therefore have to investigate their new and existing customers, taking appropriate action if a customer is on one of the sanction lists. Appropriate measures include freezing funds and assets, prohibiting the provision of financial resources or prohibiting the provision of financial services.

Activities

The exact work, of course, differs from organisation to organisation. But as a rule, it comes down to the CDD officer being assigned a customer. Subsequently, it is the CDD analyst’s responsibility to fully investigate this customer to the extent required by the organisation. Often, the CDD analyst will have to request the necessary documents from the account manager, customer or from other institutions such as the Dutch or foreign Chamber of Commerce. It is then up to the CDD analyst to check whether all documents have been collected and whether they comply with the guidelines of the bank or insurer. If everything is correct, approval can be given, and the account manager can continue to do business with this customer.

Responsibilities

The CDD analyst is therefore responsible for overseeing whether the organisation adheres to laws and regulations.

In addition, the CDD Officer performs tasks including:

  • Preparing compliance risk analyses;
  • Continual monitoring of existing customer files for risks;
  • Checking for unusual customer transactions;
  • Reporting findings to management;
  • And much more.

Job requirements

The following job requirements are stipulated for almost every CDD analyst vacancy:

  • HBO/WO (higher vocational/academic education) working and thinking level;
  • Sound investigative and analytical skills;
  • Experience within financial markets;
  • Good communication skills;
  • Flexible and able to cope with stress.

Would you like to work as a CDD analyst at a financial institution? Please get in touch to discuss the possibilities. Call us on +31 (0)20 530 4380 or mail us via jobs@ts.eu.

Tips for candidates – the interview

The time has come, you have been invited for an interview with who could be your future employer. Exciting of course, but how do you make a good impression? It’s all in the preparation. After all, good preparation is half the battle; especially with interviews.

The ultimate preparation

Good preparation is easier said than done. What should you pay attention to and how do you avoid getting tongue-tied? Here are some useful tips.

  1. Know who you are talking to

Often, an invitation will mention who you have an interview with. Should this not be the case, you can always ask. This is a sign of being proactive and can work in your favour. If you know who you have the interview with, you can take a look at his/her LinkedIn profile or simply search on Google. This will give you a general impression of who you will be meeting, and you will be aware of what he/she finds important. Should their hobbies be mentioned online, do not be embarrassed to let the conversation head in that direction. You will already know a bit about what to expect and how you can best present yourself. One last tip; memorise the names. One less thing to worry about!

  1. Know all there is to know about the vacancy

You have responded to a vacancy. It appealed to you, otherwise you would not have applied. It is strongly recommended to get familiar with the vacancy you have responded to. It avoids being confronted with any surprises during the interview. Should you be less strong in certain job requirements, consider how you compensate for this. Also take a good look at the company’s website. In any case, know what the company’s core business and culture is. You often see this on an ‘about us’ or ‘working at’ page.

  1. Prepare questions

Of course, it is essential to be well prepared for possible questions from the employer. But it is also important that you prepare a number of questions yourself. This will give the impression of being interested, meaning the interview becomes a conversation rather than a series of questions and answers. For example, look for news on the company’s website or in a search engine. You can always ask questions about something topical that appeals to you. This will make the interview more interesting for both you and the employer, thus improving your chance of getting hired.

  1. Take your CV, letter of motivation and the vacancy with you

Always take your CV and letter of motivation to the interview. Your interviewer will not always have a printed version with them and can ask for a copy. Not having a copy to hand over can be particularly irritating. It is also sensible to take along a copy of the job vacancy. Especially if you are extremely nervous about the interview, the vacancy text can provide you with something to fall back on.

What you definitely should not do

In addition to the dos, there are some important don’ts that you should not do during a job interview. By preparing well, many of the don’ts are preventable.

  1. Arriving late or far too early

It is wise to plan your journey thoroughly, so that you are not late to your interview. You only have one opportunity to make a first good impression. By being late, you are already 1-0 behind before you even enter the interview. Similarly, arriving far too early is not advisable either. If you arrive about ten to fifteen minutes before your interview, you will be on time and have the opportunity to get used to the space before you start the interview. Arriving half an hour early may seem strange and you will be alone in a room for thirty minutes.

  1. Negativity

Talking negatively about your past or current employer should be avoided at all cost. It can be easy to complain about your current employer or the search for a new job. But this has no place during an interview. Your interviewer may assume that you are also going to do this about your future employer. Nobody wants a negative colleague on their team. An employer is looking for someone enthusiastic about a new position, rather than someone who is only motivated to leave their current employer.

  1. Present yourself well

Make sure you wear smart clothes and that you are well rested. This will help you create a good impression at your job interview.

For men, it is important to be well groomed. Shave, but avoid using too much aftershave. It is also wise to wear clothes that suit both you and the corporate culture. So, do not turn up to an interview with a young start-up wearing a suit, unless they do the same themselves. You want your clothes to be tidy, but not a distraction.

For women it is important not to dress too sexy. This comes across as unprofessional and can be very distracting. In terms of accessories and make-up, moderation is key. Perhaps most importantly, wear comfortable clothes that make you feel good during the interview.

Tips for the employer – making a job profile

The purpose of a job profile or job description is to give the candidates a good idea of where they will be working and what the activities will be. A good job profile also ensures that during the interview with the candidate you can focus on the person and the motivation and spend less time explaining the organisation and the department. In short, the better the job description or the job profile, the more efficient the recruitment procedure will be.

Employer profile

The job description starts with the employer profile. What kind of organisation will the candidate be working in? A good profile can make candidates enthusiastic about the company where they will be working.

Department description

Describe here the activities within the department. The candidate can place the work and responsibilities in the perspective of the department and the organisation. The challenge here is to characterise the ambience of the department. This is relevant, since matching candidate and position is not just about the job requirements and the duties and responsibilities, but also whether the person fits within the team of the department.

Job description

A job description can be as comprehensive or as succinct as you want. As long as it is clear to the reader what the job entails and the expectations of the employer. The candidate must be able to form an accurate picture of what their days will look like. The better the picture that is sketched, the greater the chance that the new employee will be successful once they have started.

Consider the following sections in the job description:

  • Title of the function
  • Position within the organisation and the department
  • Activities
  • Responsibilities and tasks

Responsibilities and tasks

To increase the clarity of the job description, a point-by-point summary of the responsibilities and tasks can be given in this paragraph. This provides definition for the candidates who first scan vacancy texts, before reading the text and delving further into the position.

Job requirements

The job requirements section lists what skills the candidates must have in order to be eligible for the vacancy. Make sure the list does not get too long; the more requirements, the fewer reactions you can expect for a vacancy. Limit yourself to what is really necessary.

Consider the following job requirements:

  • Education
  • Qualifications
  • Work experience
  • Knowledge of the sector
  • Personality
  • Contract form and salary level

Application procedure

Make sure that the timelines of the application procedure are clear. This ensures that your candidate does not drop out early.

A candidate’s three biggest frustrations are:

  • slow or no feedback
  • poor communication
  • delayed decision making.