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IR35, SoW & Outcome-based projects Transforming your business processes

Watch the full, unedited, fascinating chat with James, reflecting on 17 years in the recruitment industry.

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 88 minutes

with James Ottaway

00:00:00 - Introductions & early experiences with IR35
00:07:20 - Adapting to the changes in IR35 legislation
00:12:00 - Lessons from how the public sector handled the initial reforms
00:18:45 - Addressing IR35 concerns with outcome-based work
00:23:30 - Who is responsible for the the delivery of outcome-based work?
00:27:00 - The mindset of outcome-based work
00:36:00 - Opportunities for recruitment businesses in outcome-based work
00:42:30 - How data unlocks the potential for savings in services spend
00:48:00 - Examples of why IR35 avoidance is the wrong way of tackling the issues
00:52:00 - Evolution of outcome-based work and where recruiters can add value
01:00:00 - Definition of an intermediary
01:03:00 - What are the main things to look out for in the next 3 months?

Transcript

 
Jonny [0:09]: Hi James, thanks very much more joining me. James Ottaway, great to have you with us.
James [0:15]: Thanks for having me.
Jonny [0:17]: So, just before we get into some of the topics, we want to discuss around R35, state the work, outcome-based projects, and the transformation of business process in that area. Can you just give a little bit of background on who you are, what you do, and how you got there?
James [0:36]: I find this difficult all the time because I can barely explain that to my wife let alone to customers. So, I’ve been working in recruitment now in banks nearly for around 17 years, but I’m always quick to say not as a recruiter, I’ve spent six months as a recruiter in a graduate scheme back in 2003 and was probably terrible at it. So, most of what I’ve been doing in all of that time is being at the corporate level mainly focusing on bids, solution design for large-scale managed service, RPO programs. I’ve spent 10 years with a large national recruiter, moved in during that time to all those sorts of contracts mostly managing stuff with a team of lawyers and contract negotiators, and then went to a large 3100 business in [1:30 inaudible] outsourced recruitment MSP arm, and again became responsible as a commercial director for that area of the business and everything they did. And this was a business with 97 individual companies and brands, and at one point I was looking after everything. So, there were talent, learning, development, and training.
On a pure timing basis, I took up that role in late 2016, and one of the very first meetings I held was put in my diary – didn’t know what it was about, it just said IR35 on it. I remember going to that meeting and just sort of leaning over to the head of Risk and Compliance for the division, he just reminded me of what IR35 is all about. And about three weeks later, I know it was interrupting my holiday I might have sat by the pool writing a public consultation to the treasury on the original of payroll forming the public sector. And then, of course, I handed that back into the group, and they sort of said, “We don’t understand this, what this is about?” I said, “Well, put it this way, you’ve got 20,000 personal services companies currently engaged either directly in the public sector or actually running through about five or six of your subdivisions and businesses and then still being displayed into the public sector back-end, so this is quite a big deal I suppose is simply interesting.
And then they said, “What can you do with it?” because that was my life for about three months running up to April 2017 when I was coming into the public sector. Up until 4 a.m. in the morning, answering specific-based queries, and all about this situation from them to individual contractor-level and that went across hundreds of different public sector customers, and at one point because we ran a large multi-customer contingent labor program within central government. I remember turning up at the RACN, they stuck a microphone in front of my face and say they've got 110 central government agencies on the other end of the line, tell them what you’re going to do to solve this problem for them.
Jonny [3:44]: No pressure.
James [3:45]: Immediately after that, I was working. From a background point-of-view, we actually did a management buyout to some of the smaller recruitment businesses from that larger company and they were all public service or healthcare education businesses. We saw firsthand actually what the next ongoing impact was because in everything that happened within those businesses was almost a fallout from my R35, particularly in the qualified social worker arena and what that did to supply chains. So, the behavior set an umbrella, and you've got the whole thing around additional tax legislation came at the same time in the criminal finance act and the need to take more care over the private supply chains that you have in place. 
And then, when those businesses were sold on in 2018 to only about a year and a half later, I set up for myself because I spent so much time being a sort of Jack of all trades within and around recruitment time and nature. I created what I still imagined is one of the most niche management consultancies out there in the market –Imperfect Circle, which specializes in advising either COC suite of agencies, of HR technology companies and sometimes end-clients as well. So, what we do with end-clients having managed their supply chain and work with talent providers on various aspects – legislation, building new solutions and new models, how to bring technology together, business cases for investment, and that kind of thing. So pretty good everything.
Jonny [5:19]: So, Imperfect Circle has been going for two, two and a half years now?
James [5:22]: Yes, so Saturday was the two-year anniversary. 
Jonny [5:27]: Congratulations. Obviously, there was a range of problems that you’ve solved for your customers at the moment. What are the areas that you would say are the real core focus for you currently? 
James [5:38]: I still work a lot of the time, unfortunately, sales is always a thing in a high demand. So, I'm still helping a lot of customers, particularly in the pandemic, break into certain sectors and part of that has been in the public sector as well. I've done a lot of solutions design and work in that space. I've worked with a lot of customers and more actually going back to the beginning of 2019 when it was thought that the payroll change is going to happen in April 2019 around the engagement models and their different ways, they're going to be able to keep their contracts and populations on large managed service programs. But a sneaky  [6:23 inaudible] who's watching, but actually there was a great opportunity at that time. It's very different now a year later because the awareness is so much greater, but at that time, I was working with a lot of small providers who'd managed to get a decent footprint into large labor programs, and IT programs, and what have you been, run by big international managed service providers. And because they’re managed-service providers, weren't talking to them properly about this challenge, hadn't really, because they were largely not public sector focus. I didn't realize what had happened last time. It was actually a bit of a free fall. Going back in 2019, these smaller businesses were being able to take chunks of 200, 300, 400 contractors out of these larger managed service programs and create these little bubbles of independent solutions. So, to working around that and relevant contracts commercials, what it really means to deliver something as a package of work versus just carrying on and engaging people in the way they were, but in a safe and compliant manner essentially.
Jonny [7:23]: Yes, I think it's very interesting bear in mind your experience in the public sector and how that kind of crosses over. I appreciate the legislation has obviously changed and obviously, the public sector organizations are going to need to make sure that – I'm not saying there's something that possibly people overlook sometimes. They're going to have to make sure that they are compliant with the legislation when it comes out because there are changes to it.
James [7:42]: Yes, I went on about this quite a lot in the middle of – no, probably before that. I did write an article just because it really bugs me and I suppose it was because there was just so little attention paid to it and it came in, in the public sector, and literally, the legislation when it came in, was only ratified with significant changes two weeks before it took effect whereas, now actually, the current piece of legislation is going to come in, in April next year and has been passed into law, and has not changed since the draft came out in 2018. So, much, much longer for people to kind of get to grips with it. I suppose where I was going with that. And so, he really bothered me. It shouldn't have bothered me, but I get bothered about random things about all of these messages on LinkedIn saying, “Come to R35 breakfast meeting; come to our seminar; come to our webinar, we'll ply you with milk and cookies, and we'll tell you all about it.”
It was a really sort of silence too. And I'm sort of saying, “Well, hang on a minute, it's not just private sector, you're talking to the private sector because you think you're going to get more out of them, but actually, public sector has been doing this for years. The legislation is changing a bit in terms of how the rules work, what it means to be compliant, what needs to be provided.” and then, I was to talking to him about that. And I also, from a sense of minor guilt, of course, being one of the people that kind of told them how to address the situation back then and knowing that the kind of solutions and the approach that we put in place at the time, if people are still applying that logic today, they will definitely be non-compliant, so it's kind of willing to say we need to undo some of this stuff that we did before because they changed the rules, but then they’re still talking about it.
Jonny [9:31]: And it's one of those things where you sort of think, you look at it and you think logically, there should be loads of knowledge and experience transfer coming from the public sector over to the private sector, but I don't necessarily get the sense that's happening on any kind of decent scale really.
James [9:46]: No, I can understand why to an extent, because they are totally different beasts of course, and the way in which -- we always imagined and it'll be interesting to see what happens in the private sector. For example, there's been those knee-jerk reactions and I'm sure, and we'll kind of touch on that later on. The whole thing is around blanket decisions and stuff like that, but we always imagined that in the private sector, it would be quicker to reach an equilibrium. Whereas actually, what we saw in the public sector was just on the programs that we were looking at ourselves, either they did some very interesting stuff, sort of playing on the HMRCs, rather than limited definition at the time of what it meant to do substitution. Actually, beyond that, we found that some large programs with four or five, 6,000 IT contractors, for example. 6th of April, 2017, the numbers’ gone down to 2,000 and there weren't people back funding them as well because it was fairly chaotic in some of those sectors.
Jonny [10:51]: Yes, and obviously, this was a situation at that point that people who were working as PAC contractors in the public sector could just try and go to the private sector.
James [11:00]: Which has always been a problem. It was outlined in the initial consultation; they were very aware that they were going to create that under the playing field and they were always going to open that window up. I think whenever you challenge HMRC about it, or even spoke to some of the programs where they weren't being very pragmatic about what they were doing and saying, look, they will just go elsewhere. I think there was this kind of feeling that the work was so different they won't just absorb them, but a lot of these were tech skills, engineering skills that were in high demand, and they were able to just – yes, they left that opportunity there and actually quicker than we expected in the public sector, they did come back to that point of pragmatism; they did come back to starting to think actually to undo that damage. We've got to think about this more rationally.
Jonny [11:50]: In terms of the way that the public sector handled the whole process, and as you said, they were from a timescale point-of-view, they were a major disadvantage in some ways to what the private sector are facing, but do you have any particular kind of overarching concerns about how people are likely to approach it or how you're seeing people approaching it in the private sector?
James [12:13]: Well, as I said, the lack of awareness and progress, even with some of those interventions in this case from the cabinet office and the crime commercial service and things like that, there was still a real lack of awareness. The best antidote I can come up with, as I said, we were supplying a lot in central government at the time and we had this mass program, all the account directors were coming back to me every day, saying, “How are you doing with status determinations? How are you doing with making sure that we've got something in place for everyone for the first the 1st of April?”
I remember an account manager who I'd never met before, coming up to me and saying, “I've literally just been bellowed at half an hour since I've stood with the manager on the phone screaming at me saying, “Why are you doing this to me?” That was a key thing that was a common thing. They all thought that it was us as an organization that was doing this to them, had no awareness that it was legislative. Me saying, “Either they'd be imagining this is ridiculous, I'm not an expert, I can't fill these forms, and I can’t do these status simulations. What am I supposed to do? You're giving me no time at all in which we can’t really explain it. And so, I'm saying about you, go back to him and say this…” I actually had the whole issue of assessed tool that was giving more, cannot decide decisions and anything else at this point in time, so it really didn't help anything.
Jonny [13:30]: It continues to be a favorite now by the looks of things.
James [13:36]: I'm not joking. I turned around to the account manager and said, “Sorry, which department do you look after?” he said HMRC. So, he had just been on the phone with the manager for HMRC who was screaming at him saying, “Why are you doing this to me? This is ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Jonny [13:55]: The irony of it.
James [13:57]: And of course, everyone knows that, the whole issue around it at that time when the rules came out in the public sector. There was a delay in rolling out the sets tool because they were all PSC contractors and they were all -- and you see, it was great because they kept leaking the model onto GitHub, and every week, you'd get this updated version of an Excel spreadsheet because that is how complex the sets tool is. I have an Excel spreadsheet with all the decision trees and everything in it and they kept leaking it. Obviously, from programming the sets tool, they've got enough of the knowledge, but no one else has been talking it and, “Oh, this isn’t looking good actually” and they even got up and left.
Jonny [14:48]: Yes, I think it's interesting what you were saying about the awareness levels actually within organizations, because towards the end of last year when it was still expected, obviously pre-COVID that we were going to be going live in April this year. I was at a symposium on IR35 and all the things related to it run by one of the big MSPs. And I spoke to some of the end-clients or end-clients that were actually there to hear all about it. And I was told by several of them that one of their major concerns was just the level of awareness within the contractor population. I was pretty astounded by that, to be honest. I kind of look at it and surely, there must be a decent level of awareness, but maybe not.
James [15:37]:No. And this was another thing I think because I've gone from zero knowledge of IR35 to, as I say, being asked of me, we'd been asked to put in the consultation response because actually, one of our clients had said to us, “We don't think HMRC is going to listen to any of the recruitment, kind of the independent bodies, the trade bodies. They'll just put that to one side and say, that's just noise. We need you because it was a large business, a large corporate business that just happened to have a very chunky recruitment arm in it.” 
They said, “We want you, and people like you, and ideally contractors themselves to be responding to this consultation”. So, I actually asked someone from every one of the managed service programs we had to nominate workers and I interviewed workers before anyone knew anything about that I was communicating [16:29 inaudible] to try and do an impact assessment. And one of the things we had, we had a lot of engineering workers working in the nuclear and the energy sector and they were saying to me, actually, when I spoke to them, “Well, I’m PSE, but I do work inside of R35. I've always done that. I've always prepared that through my account, but actually I work because I'm going to retire in three years and I put 70% of my money into pension. And what you seem to be telling me now about how those new rules are going to work, is that's all going to be taken away from me because it will be done before I get paid into my business. So, what's the point of me working anymore? Funnily enough, I put that in the equality impact assessment at the end of the consultation, never got mentioned in the final report by HMRC. I spoke to them last year about it. They went, “Oh, that's a tough one, isn't it?” I was too stunned to say –
Jonny [17:16]: It is a tough one, yes.
James [17:18]: And what I'm saying here is actually that whole process of talking to people from different backgrounds meant that we were actually just start the short time as we were able to engage and speak to our contractors quite well, which got us through the whole state dissemination process really quickly. I was saying again, back in 2018, encouraging people “Don't touch your contracts”. A lot of them were saying, “No, we don't want to, because we want the client to kind of make their decisions first” and then as a result, the contractors have just been left. Through social media, through LinkedIn, through the noise that's available in the market, you've got a lot of these contractors who are commenting on very, very technical stuff for themselves, almost setting themselves up as experts. 
You’ve got a lot of IT contractors who are going and sending forums and talking about R35, and impact, and what have you; because no one's speaking to them about it, no one's giving them the assurance. So yes, there's this huge awareness that they’re kind of, “Are you someone I can do business with? Therefore, I'm going to say that this is a big thing happening. Therefore, I'm going to sell you some consultancy services around it.”But no one's really looking out for that. Well, apart from some of the trade bodies, not a lot of help with the contractor level and this isn't going to work unless they engage those populations.
Jonny [18:35]: Well, I think as you say, some of the contractor trade bodies have really been working massively hard on this and made a lot of noise about this sort of thing. Well, anyone that's associated with them should be pretty well aware of exactly what's going on. And as I say, I think with the lead-in we've got now to the deadline of April 2021 that is ample time for people to be able to be made aware of a company, is to work out what they're doing. 
So, when you look at the old regime versus new regime and the use of methods, like for example, contracted-out services, what are you seeing in that area? What's your view on that in relation to how organizations are addressing their overall R35 concerns?
James [19:22]: Yes. One of the things actually, when things came in the public sector, we had a close relationship with Crown Commercial Service and it was good actually, because they sent communication, particularly within local government saying, “Don't be fooled into thinking that just because it has a consultancy badge, it's out of scope of this regime.” They cited the example that a lot of central government agencies that were using IT contractors, for example, just wrote back to HMRC, or to CCS, or to whoever saying, “Oh, don't worry, we've got all these contracts, we'll just move them onto G-Cloud because G-Cloud’s an output basis, it's a consultancy badge” and actually, they were quite good, even Crown Commercial Services at the time were saying, “Just because it has that badge in it, don't just assume that you're puddled.”
And likewise, going through all of those individual cases for those thousands of contractors, obviously, they didn't do it individually for the contract. They were going through those kinds of borderline cases for those thousands of contractors. We had examples where the transformation division of the business that I was in, was providing what they called a managed IT service into a major central government department and that they were told, the contracts about services exemption applies, rule, fine. And of course, once you break that chain under the old rules, when it was just the public sector that was subject to the fee payer obligations or the higher obligations within the terms of the off-payer rules, as long as you broke that chain payment and put a label that said, ‘this is a bundle of services at a top-level’ and actually, the old rules apply because you then got a consultancy that’s dealing in the private sector enterprise underneath it. That was seen as a really easy to get out of jail free card.
But even in that example, that outsource IT contract, when I just asked a handful of questions and I said in my case, “What are you doing? I will change how you can [21:27 inaudible], but how are you charging for it?” And he said it was a fixed monthly fee. And he was just asking very simple questions like, “How do you get to that fee? Well, it's the daily rate for these leases, and these contractors, and this, this and this” and I said, “Right. And if that contractor left next month and you didn't backfill them, what would you be charging the client?” Well, that minus that contractor daily rate.” “So, that suggests there's a chain payment because what you're getting paid by the client relates directly to what you're paying to the team of people that are doing the work. So, it is not the contract without service. And as a result, of course, the risk is that client hasn't provided any status determinations, so if anything ever did go wrong down the line, there’s going to be an investigation.”
“And now you've got the added complexity in the new world that you've got to look at it at every stage, even though it's complex on multiple supplier arrangement, which is fairly unique in the business you're in, just because of the number of different businesses feeding into the piece. You've got to look at it at every stage down. But there is still that desire, answering your question, finding out in terms of what people are doing now.” “Absolutely. That was one of the first things they looked at. I've worked with customers and then buyers who had just decided, I've got a business analyst and an architecture function in my business that’s mostly staffed with contractors. Should I be having just an outsource function and buy as a service?” Now, when you go in and talk to the head of business analysis at that organization, they're saying, “Well, I want you to recruit them, I want to make sure I get signed off and everyone can – no, no, no, no, they’re just not behaving like it.” So, like a hiring manager, you either want to service with the commitments, the outputs, or you want a way of maintaining the people that you want to work in your organization, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with good resourcing strategy, a good tenant strategy, but actually, you deal with that in another way, you deal with that about communicating, talking, and finding ways to maintain engagement with these people. 
Jonny [23:41]: I think when you look at that kind of outcome-based model; there are obviously two aspects to it. There's actually packaging up work differently and understanding that something ultimately needs to be done. Now, you could have someone sitting there as a PRC contractor on a time and materials basis just churning away doing that and that's a job, that's a role, or you could look at what ultimately needs to be done, strategically packaged that up and genuinely outsource it. So, there's that aspect of it, of how work is delivered, how work is packaged up, but then there's the, does the way that it's delivered match with the way that it's packaged up? And I think there are kind of two separate hurdles, but I'm not sure whether that's something that you're seeing more being dealt with by procurement or more falling under HR, or where do you see that whole kind of scenario sitting where people are looking at outcome-based opportunities as a way of getting work done?
James [24:41]: Yes, I suppose that question of, is it more HR? Is it more procurement or whatever is…? It plays to the same weaknesses as the whole thing about, I want to contract without service because I want to maintain my current contracts, those kinds of things. If you've got the wrong drivers in the first place, you're going to come out with the wrong results. So, I don't see it as being HR or procurement. I see it as being driven by the business needs. So, you know it's a conditional thing. It's education for people to understand. I want to get something done, and what's the cleanest way to do that? Some programs are naturally organic, it's all about how teams work well together and that is a staffing requirement. But there's too much money spent unnecessarily on maintaining resources on a what-if basis because people are too scared. 
I find when I talk to people about, what have you considered creating a statement of work with clear outputs and deliverables and actually finding the provider to deliver on that basis? And even the buyers themselves, even though they can see the kind of cost benefits of that, they're too scared about everybody to consider all the possibilities. And I said, “Well, okay, that's understandable. If you take a clear methodical approach to doing that, then there's not going to be much argument on that front.” “If you set out the basis on which these milestones will get settled, that's fine. And then the flip side of that is if these people are genuinely providing services as a business, then absolutely, they should be billing and taking on that risk. 

They should be saying, “Yes, we understand that we've taken on board and we recognize the requirements you've given us and we will commit to delivering on that basis in that time.” And actually what you find is, when I've spoken to people like career sort of contractors who originally probably if I'm honest, set up their businesses just because their accountant told them to, and it may be three years into a long-term engagement in a financial services firm or something like that. But actually, when you say to them, “Going forward, are you interested in genuinely working at risk, being involved in going to a client and saying, “This is how we're going to deliver that outcome for you rather than just being hired to do it, they jump at the chance.”

Jonny [27:17]: Yes. I think there's a misconception sometimes. When you were talking about people seeing the cost-saving of outsourcing a piece of work, I think sometimes people just look at it and think, well, that's going to be more expensive. But they're not necessarily taking into account the fact that they could be -- how efficient are the contractors that they've got sitting there doing it? What's actually being delivered? Because I think for a lot of companies it's coming around to a different mindset of really drilling in more detail into what actually needs to be achieved. So, what do we actually need to get done here? And as you say, what is the most effective way to do that? Which an organization is always going to have a combination of resource methods that work best in different scenarios and for different projects. 

But I think, yes, there's a kind of where that risk is applied. That's where those supplier relationships come in, in terms of really understanding the requirement and actually looking for a situation where that company is going to get great result from that supplier and he's going to want to work with them again in the future, he’s going to want to recommend them rather than let's see what we can get away with delivering this particular project. And that's where it comes into things that we see a lot around suppliers helping shape requirements before it actually gets to the full award and SOW creation stage, where everyone really knows what's realistic and everyone has agreed on it. Clearly, you're always going to get changes throughout the life of a project or program, but as long as that's documented, as long as that's dealt with in the right way, it fits in with the business rationale.

James [28:48]: Yes. Sometimes I get a bit kind of black and white and hung up on principles of procurement. I do a lot in the public sector and transparent procurement. I get quite angry when people try to evaluate something on sort of really wishy-washy and actually putting too much emphasis on having done this before and not how will you do it? 

Jonny [29:15]: Yes. That would come at a surprise, isn’t really?

James [29:19]: Yes. Taking comes from someone's sales spiel, over actually being able to take comfort from, you’ve defined this well enough in the contract, it will only get delivered or it won’t. And actually, the contract also says, if it doesn't get delivered, this is exactly what's going to happen as a result of that [29:36 inaudible]. Again, I think it's because I've got a commercial background, I maybe place too much faith in contracts, but a very well worded agreement between two parties on how and why something is going to be delivered and how much it's going to cost is incredibly valuable, much more than just asking questions where half the time the questions that are being asked don't even really relate to…

Jonny [29:57]: So, in what you were saying earlier about contractors who are in the situation where they could take on, effectively, the risk for deliverable outcomes, your feeling from that was that certainly within some of the people you spoke to, there was a decent appetite to take on that risk because they knew their competencies.

James [30:18]: Absolutely. Given the opportunity, a lot of them will happily do that. And then the ones that don't actually, that's where the cool outcomes, isn't it? And going back to one of the original questions was HR procurement? I worked with one of my clients with a very bullish-shaped jar, director who quite often ends up facing the long-term interim contracts as you were saying to him like, “Well, we're not going to accept a new role inside of IR35.” “I want to do this outside of IR35.” “What does that mean? Do you just want me to change so it turns to termination?” “Well, no, you’ve got to make it so that it’s relevant to his answer [30:57 inaudible] occur”. He turns around and says, “Well, how about I increase your rate by the amount of the employees and I, the amount of access times – the differential between income tax, and dividend tax, and all of that, and I'll pay you at that instead of that. Do you still want to do the work?” And the difference between someone who's willing to act as a business and someone who's only interested in what it means for that tax outcome is the person that says, yes to that question. 

But actually, more and more people are now saying, no. And I say this; I’m someone that has a small business for myself. The contractors themselves, because it has forced them to educate themselves about actually what that thing with their accountant told them to do six years ago actually means for them going forward in a world that is moving generally, even with employees towards outcome-based reward and risk. They're starting to realize that actually, it's more beneficial for them as well, because if you can commit to delivering an output and then work in your own way, then you're entirely your own boss in terms of how much you deliver, how you scale your business, how you’re scaling your outputs. And day rate kind of goes out the window to a certain extent because it becomes, how many jobs do I need to take on in this month, in this financial year to meet whatever target I've got to feed my family, to actually start up a new business, so, that next year, I may need to work part-time? It changes their mindset. 

So, I think there's more of a willingness in the contractor community to think actually, there are benefits on both sides. Fine, not only does the client get guarantee that something's going to be delivered on time and without busting budget, without someone essentially sitting around doing nothing because a dependency has been missed or something like that. But the contractors themselves potentially are starting to realize, well, no, there are huge benefits here from my point-of-view as well.

Jonny [32:59]: And do you think we're likely to see more kind of groups of contractors getting together in this kind of environment, in that scenario to form small consultancies where they're collaborating with each other, or do you think that's not a different complex discussion?

James [33:15]: Not specifically to get around IR35, because, interestingly, so there's been a lot of noise in the last couple of weeks because then I think it was something that was sitting in the draft legislation going back in March or April last 2018 even. But there has been a lot of noise in the last few weeks about the fact that HMRC have changed the definition of an intermediary and for legal purposes, that's say what we would know as a PSC, falling within the scope of the IR35 rules in your payroll rules. And they've made it so wide, it would apply to anyone, including someone who’s just [33:55 cross talking] to an agency or they’re going to be the head one. That caused a big stir to one that has to stand up and say, we were wrong, we didn't intend this, even though it has huge advantages for them. But the word was specifically trying to address that whole approach of a handful of contractors just getting together in a partnership, an NLP, or a company with equal shares, just as a way to get out of it. So, they were targeting individuals, doing that alone will not just give them a free pass to be outside of the rules. 

Jonny [34:31]: No. Absolutely. 

James [34:33]: But you will see. I mean, it's interesting, and [34:40 inaudible]. Obviously, one of the businesses in the MBA was a big sponsor agency and while we were running that business, I had a good friend of mine and my wife's a teacher, we know lots and lots of teachers. But a friend contacted me and he was talking about – he wanted to set up a supply teaching agency where he was the only client because he wanted to act like a business and be able to make clear decisions around having engaged with the schools that he works in. But it’s that mindset. And then, when we started talking, well, I know four or five other people that would join and we could become – it's a good concept. So yes, that thinking, yes, I can see that taking off, that whole idea of, if we band together, we can work on more projects, we can deliver more for multiple customers at the same time.

Jonny [35:33]: I don't really look at it in terms of, specifically as an IR35 avoidance, but just as a practical step that some people who have been contractors for many years just to say that what's the most effective way for me to take my skills and competencies to market? Is that on my own? Is it via the continuing on the contract route? Is it for me to go perm? Is it to go work for an umbrella? Or is it actually to collaborate with other people who are working in specific areas? We've all got very specialist skills that map together quite nicely. We could see the formation of more businesses. It's a changing business landscape. There's a changing regulatory landscape obviously, which impacts this, but there is a changing business landscape as well. I’m just thinking it's a really interesting time talking about that change in the kind of business landscape. It's obviously a huge time of change for recruitment organizations. And I think there are various factors that are affecting recruitment agencies outside of R35. But with this legislation coming in next year, what do you see as the opportunities or the areas where recruitment companies are looking to offer additional value to their customers or take on different types of customers, in response to what's going on with R35 and what that will mean?

James [36:58]: If I think about the people that I’ve worked with, certainly the ones that have approached me, the conversation always starts with a channel and a route to market. And to the extent, I was a terrible sales director in the time that I was a sales director because I don’t like picking up phones. I hate talking on the phone. Terrible sales provision, it's about recruiters as well. But they're always just looking at the channel, how do I get in front to talk to a new customer? And that provided me with an opportunity to talk about, well, there are different models of delivery, which would open up. 

And again, this probably takes different frameworks and approaches and you can look at them [37:36 inaudible]. But I'm a big fan of the product sale, yes, having a product and defining that product, and then what that means to your segregated customer there. So, I did a marketing qualification, then we finished the final paper. That’s the one thing I always say to people, define your proposition first. And it comes back actually to what you were talking about contractors potentially bundling together because there'll be able to create a product, they'll be able to then sell more repetitively, quicker, easily to more customers. So absolutely, that's how they're going to get that sale. From a recruitment agency point-of-view, I think absolutely, the ones that will succeed in taking advantage of the changes that are coming on, are those that play to their strengths in order to be able to create a proposition, to take to market as a service, as an outcome, and find the right customers for that service.

So, for example, you've got some very strong agencies out there that just do technology and change management. A change management is huge everywhere in the world we live in at the moment. And a lot of them are providing sort of heavy-hitting programs, directors, IT change managers into the public sector in the market [38:58 inaudible] and stuff like that. And I'm saying to them, well, a lot of organizations are doing the same thing. It's a repeated art that you're getting. You don't just look at it as a person coming in on the demand and if you look at it from a… you start to categorize and really capture what it is your clients are asking your work, as your contractors, the people they're asking you to find. If you really start to capture what it is they're asking you to do, then you can start identifying the common trends and you can create a proposition around that and sell that service and become an expert in that space.

Because I do often find I've worked with enough large consultancies, professional consultancies, and the big private accountants and what have you, to know that this is a huge amount. When you're stoking a product – huge difference, worlds apart, but delivering and getting the right people to actually get the outcome, there's a very narrow margin of difference between a good agency and a good consultant. So, there's absolutely an opportunity there I think, for those agencies to start thinking about, what do we do well? Because we've been recruiting in these markets, what is it we've actually become? Almost [40:17 inaudible] experts in on the people we're connected with are also experts in and packaging up those solutions and those offers to take to market. 

And again, they get scared about the same things that the enterprise is getting scared of because it's such a shift in mindset for them. They say to me, “How didn’t I know how to do that? How do I say to the client I'm going to deliver that checkpoint by that day?”It's kind of like, well, you draw on the expertise, you don't think of your talent pool as interim, as people. Think of them as a network of businesses that all provide a little piece to the puzzle and the skills to meet that objective. If you treated them like a network of fellow business consultants, and one of your clients who's worked with you for years comes to you and says, “I've got a really difficult problem I need to address”. Now, why aren't you picking up the phone to the 20 experts that you've got on your books? How would you address this? “Okay. Would you be interested in coming together to define a product?” Yes. And that's the…

Jonny [41:32]: It's ultimately about whose best out to solve the problem, isn't it? 

James [41:35]: Yes. 

Jonny [41:36]: I think that recruitment companies have proven over the years to be incredibly adaptable. I've previously worked in the job board sector. I remember back in the early days, back in 2000, I think it was. There are recruitment agencies that are dead. They certainly weren't. They thrive through the growth of the job board industry and just adapted their model. But it's all about, who's good at solving a particular problem. And for companies that are good at solving the particular problem around project-based delivery, they're going to do that themselves. But for other companies that might be something that they're just really not very good at and it may be that the kind of problem-solving capabilities that exist within some of the recruiters, certainly some of the big MSPs, that can be shifted and channeled towards these more outcome-driven project-based work delivery solutions.

But I think it's interesting what you also said about the way in terms of selling it in because I think people just buy differently now. Information is at hand, people don't necessarily want to be sold to, they want to be made aware of information to make their own informed choices on it. But for these companies that are looking at providing those sorts of offerings, like you say, they need to have a clear solution, otherwise, it's just too willie for people to be able to get their heads around where they're grappling with these problems around IR35, their existing workforce, and all the different kind of market challenges that are going on at the moment.

James [43:05]: I get quite angry with poor use of those because what you said about data and particularly with the managed service programs, they've got so much data at their fingertips. And I go back quite a few years ago to a brief stint idea – because there are so many jobs – as an account director work on a managed service program for a large financial services client. 6,000 continued as workers, 2,000 of which were professional high-end, very highly paid PSEs. And as I say, it was financial services.

There was a lot of noise made last year when the likes of HSBC, Lloyds [43:39 inaudible], several of the largest financial services companies all made the dreaded blanket assessment, of course, they're always [43:46 inaudible]. It’s not a blanket assessment, they’ve not made an assessment, they've made a policy decision not to engage personal services companies. Now, notwithstanding the fact that they probably don't realize that outside of their contingent labor programs, they could have hundreds of personal services companies on their books and just not know about it. [44:05 cross talking]

Jonny [44:05]: As in like color, [44:07 inaudible] and didn’t know they got GSAW.

James [44:11]: Everyone was up in arms saying, they're going to lose out, they’re going to an answer to their superiors. From my point-of-view, having seen it, it was totally understandable why they took that standpoint as a starting point because particularly in the financial services organizations, they have such a focus on change management and separating out what's delivered to customers and what's just keeping the business on some kind of strategic direction. And part of it's also to do with the fact, I think that the share prices is linked to Ickbal and they like to keep the change function off the books essentially. And what you have and you take programs like PPI, like the SME, which was the same as PPI, but in terms of derivative sales. I know from working on those contingent labor programs, that those entire functions were staffed from top to bottom by people holding themselves out as being limited companies and businesses that they [45:11 inaudible], half the time signing off each other's timesheets, clearing each other's work schedules, giving each other over time.

That was the other thing that really got me. Sorry, I go off on a tangent but linking that back to what you said about data, this was quite some years ago and it was the agency who was running it. It had an in-house VMX that they sort of built from scratch, but their data warehouse, they had loads in there about patterns of behavior, particularly in overtime I was particularly keen on because I'd been asked to look for ways to cut costs.  You had these programs as I said, where you could quite clearly see it was visible to anyone that just took the time to look. These workers who work in business for themselves, who were scratching each other's backs, were just taking it upon themselves to do overtime, that double daily rate to clear what was a very set 20-minute case handling process. So, the effective cost per case to the business was just skyrocketing because no one was looking and saying, well, actually this is a defined piece of work. 

It literally takes 20 minutes to review a case on this. Let’s say it’s PPR that says this to me or anything to do with audit and compliance within the banking sector. And it was very easy for me to just say and this wasn't even with an output-based kind of hats on at the time, I was still just thinking of pure cost-cutting. It's just numbers, it's just resources. The resource plan is a project, but the data was there to say, you can say 6 million pounds if you just structure the work so that it relates to what needs to be done, how many people need to do it, how long does it need to take them to do it?And I think that there's just so much that’s lost for people not looking at the data and looking at the opportunity. And I think now that people become more aware of the opportunities for services procurement, for doing this type of work, I think you're going to see some really interesting things happening on some of those big programs because of big data as well, because of the independent analytics tools that are out there, where companies and managed service providers are going to be able to say, there's a change of behavior required here that's just going to provide real benefits to everyone across the board.

But coming back to financial services sector again, as I say, why I wasn't surprised that they took that blanket approach. The other thing with the original date for the off-payrolls and the private sector, and this is something I'm a bit hung up on, but no one wants to engage me on it because it's one of my personal problems. But it was due to come in only four months after the FCA changed its entire certification regime. So, you used to have this concept of FCA approved. And they brought in what's called the senior managing certification agent. Usually, I only knew about it because I just happened to have a friend in the village locally who's a lawyer and an independent financial services compliance consultancy. All of a sudden, the [48:34 inaudible] started wearing actually for years and years, and years, you probably have people undertaking regulated roles within organizations who were holding themselves out as being within business [48:44 inaudible].

And what the senior management certification regime did, was it took the obligation away from the financial con of FCL and put it on the business, the legal entity that was claiming to be providing those services as a financial services firm, they call them firms in FCA legislation, had to certify the competence in the work themselves. So, all of a sudden, I think within the banks, in particular, it's kind of raising this thing and saying, Oh crap. Okay. So as a bank, we know we've got to certify the competencies of these individuals now, but how do we do that when this person is saying that they're actually a business? And so, it's just changing the mindset. Again, going off on a tangent a bit, but I'm of the opinion that I could base it on – I'm not a hundred percent set on this – but actually it's that whole thing about whether someone else is supposed to be determining that your right to do the work, whether any client is determining that you're doing it right and how you're doing it. And it comes back to that whole thing that’s simply direction and control. 

But yes, and again, that I think probably influenced that behavior in that market, but that the similar things apply. I mentioned social care earlier and the social work market where under the conduct regulations, if you're a recruiter, someone can't up task the conduct regulations because safeguarding rules mean they can't play in it, they're not under someone else's direction itself. So, you've got all these things and ways of thinking that people didn't pick up on before, but the legislation is causing people, particularly people like me who likes to spend their weekends thinking about this stuff to look at it all with a different lens.And I worry if you just look at it in terms of trying to get someone to announce a status dissemination, you're going to run now in so many ways because you're going to get caught up with things like – I won't go into it now – but there's a big issue around the agents who work with regulations and how that interacts with how things are going to work again now that we'll be under the payroll rules that I think people aren't seeing. 

Jonny [51:02]: I also think that if you're taking it from that angle of saying, how do I get this person to fall out of scope? That's just the wrong approach. I think it’s organizations that are looking at how they get the work done and primarily, what's the most effective way to get the work done for them in a specific scenario? Bearing in mind the options that they have available and the options they have available have changed slightly due to the IR35 legislation coming into force. So, that has to be part of their assessment process. But I think a lot of companies weren't doing a particularly good job of assessing their resource options previously, and they have to get better at it. It also comes down to what you were saying before about data. I think, particularly, when you look at services procurement, that's one of, if not the biggest problem in services procurement, is understanding what you're getting for your money, and it's a huge area of opportunity where the data needs to be good data, processes need to be followed and information needs to be captured, but it's not something that I think is particularly well-served in the market as it has been kind of up to now.

James [52:09]: But actually because you triggered something, I was going to say. If we go back to that whole point around, is HR procurement? And also, whether where recruitment agencies could add value by focusing on services and outputs. What I think is a wonderful synergy where one feeds the other essentially is if I think about traditional procurement and as I say, services procurement is not just a matter of procurement, it’s a matter for the business strategy and to design how things get delivered. But from putting on that pure procurement memes, I think there is, particularly with large private sector organizations, there's this false belief that just by putting an opportunity out there into the market, you're going to get the best and the cream of the crop clambering to put in a bid in and get that work. And I think there are wonderful learning’s that recruitment can bring around greater reach, a targeted marketing, understanding how to position the clients, instead of thinking about positioning the client as an employer.

Though, it's how to position the client as a buyer of services, as a partner, as a long-term business perspective even. But I think potentially if done right, it could have a huge impact in terms of these companies’ ability to get the best value for money, to really be scraping a whole of the market when they've got a requirement for the absolute best providers that you could get out there. Because it's marketing; and it's funneling; and it's actually making them attractive as a business prospect, because certainly within highly technical sections or whatever, there's no girth of opportunities to do the work, but to get someone's common [54:34 inaudible] and put their best foot forward and say, I'm going to deliver it in this way and I can deliver it in this terms that you want. Actually, there's a wonderful synergy there with where the recruitment providers can be helping those organizations find the widest possible pool of suppliers.

Jonny [54:16]: And do you see the role of the recruitment providers in that? We see scenarios where recruiting providers are looking to provide project services where they are delivering projects and they are outsourcing that work, getting that work done via whatever means they need to do.

James [54:34]: I think its horses for courses actually. Some of them would want to take on the risk and they want to be seen as professional services. They want to be seen as kind of in the same space as your PWCs, Accenture’s, and something like that. They'll do that and they'll provide the service rep, they'll develop their essential PMO teams, and manage that whole portfolio of products and outcomes across all of those powers. But I think there's a great place for agencies to just become that kind of market and it’s major as well. And it's using that for discipline. I’ve worked for Reed for many years and I'm a big fan of taking learning’s from one discipline and putting it in something entirely different. 

And one of the great things that Sir Alec Reed did in the time that I was there, was he took everything he had learned from reed.co.uk and creating a job board that was really good, in the early days it was very good in terms of its matching software and its ability to match people, to roll in artificial intelligence, that’s a fact. He put that into the Charleston fundraising sector to creating a site called the Big View because he realized actually, there are these big, big donors, but always looking for opportunities to fund social value, to get involved in stuff. Let's take the technology that we've used to do recruitment and let's apply it to fundraising and charity, matching donors to the kinds of things that they want to sponsor. And that seems totally tangentry, but I suppose what I'm saying is it plays back to my point around a recruiter as an intermediary, can take, as I said, that almost sort of marketing knowledge, that function, that reach that helps to create networks and create a greater store of opportunity for those buyers of services to be able to select an even wider pool of providers.

Jonny [56:29]: Yes, it's got that. And it mirrors what you're talking about in the terms of taking the expertise and the process that recruitment companies use in a normal kind of recruitment time, materials, contingent workforce scenario and applying that to what we're seeing, where MSP providers are delivering services specifically around SOW or services procurement MSP. 

James [56:50]: So, you could have a recruitment provider that either says, just give us the requirements and we'll provide the full wrap around it and we'll give you access to the whole market. We've never a recruitment provider that uses that expertise and just says, “Okay, Mr. Customer we'll come in, we'll do a review of how you're working, how you engage in supplier, and individuals, the whole piece.” And they will play particularly as managed service programs to get a really big vision across the whole function. “And we'll bring that all into one place; we'll load it into the platform for example, and then we'll give you the keys because we'll say, right, they're all in there, they're all available for you to manage, for you to put a discipline around that and then how you engage them. And either that's fine and we'll set you up and we'll let you go and that's a good piece of what we'll do, but actually, you know what?

We can do better than that, we can keep funneling it again, using analogies, recruitment, whatever talent pooling, so that we can keep funneling suppliers into that ecosystem so that you just have more and more – based on the strategic pillars, the outcomes that your business change objectives.”“We can funnel suppliers into that using the same methodology, and same reach, same networking strategies that we use when we find the people, finding talent, we can just build up the supply chain, the people that are there at your fingertips and engage with organizations, so that when you've got a requirement, you can mobilize in a matter of days, you can get the best quote, you can engage with those suppliers to get them to come back to you and feed into your programs.” “How should we be doing this?” You get that dialog, and that's all about having the right systems and processes in place at the top-end. But from a recruitment agency point-of-view, you can do one or the other, you can even manage the whole lot and provide the discipline or you can give the end-customer the tool and just be that pipeline for providing them in.

Jonny [58:42]: I think it's a fascinating time. We're seeing all of these, all of the above in the market at the moment in terms of recruiters providing output-based project services directly into customers, moving up the value chain that way, it’s something that has been done for many years, but people are looking to do it more kind of effectively, more scalable. And we're also seeing that kind of services procurement MSP model developing, whether it's dealing with a single-end entity or whether an MSP is building up their own base supply pool that they are then serving multiple end-customers with. And it's just such a period of rapid growth and evolution with things like IR35, certainly driving those conversations a lot. It’s just opening up huge areas of possibilities. I think it's a massively interesting time for the market. 

As I said before, my experience of being involved with and dealing with the recruitment world, incredibly adaptable organizations, and generally they're good at problem-solving. So, it's just which problem are they addressing? And no doubt, there are some decent solutions already out there and people working on solutions for the problems as they come up. But I think obviously, I can see the activity already ramping up massively coming up to IR35 going live already, but I think until we're actually past that 0.3 six months down the line, there's going to be a lot of things that probably get ironed out in the process, even like what you were talking about earlier with regards to the definition of an intermediary, that's still being addressed, isn't it? 

James [1:0:27]: Yes, no. This is the thing because I think apparently; we need to follow the likes of Dave Chaplin for a day-to-day feed, hour by hour, what's actually happening kind of thing. And he's been instrumental in bringing this to people's attention and lobbying. But yes, I too had a cynical approach about it because I thought it probably was a mistake, some heavy-handed drafting. I see it all the time because I’ve done it a lot in commercial and contracts.

Jonny [1:1:05]: Its classic if like, so let’s see what we can get, and then we’ll see where we end up.

James: [1:1:09]: Yes, exactly. That's what it feels like. Because I saw, again, going back to what happened in the public sector, what they weren't prepared for was those people that said, right, if we… because even working for an organization that did a really good job of a case by case, making proper determinations as best they could with the crappy sets tool at the time. They then didn't realize what the next big problem that they were going to create was – which was by them saying like, “Can you instate? You never have an option with how you want to be engaged.” The option of being engaged as a PSE inside of IR35 is pretty awful actually, particularly if you genuinely are in business, if you're doing your own accounts, using commercial accounts and software, it doesn't work because you're getting paid an invoice with a butting out as this, and then it breaks every commercially available software, business accounting software out there. So, the reality was as we obviously know, and of course, most of them run into umbrellas. 

All of a sudden, and again, I knew this from being in the qualified social workspace then in the coming months afterwards. We have an office in one location in Manchester, I did a quick search using a bunch of criteria and I found that 25 new umbrella companies were registered on the 6th of April, 2017, and they were all just sucking up these workers, reigniting old odd load schemes. I would offshore schemes. Every disguised remuneration scheme under the sun was being sold in those coming months. And then very quickly the government kind of strangled around and I know it was actually more to do with financial services, but they introduced the criminal finance act, which actually was a bit of a risk in terms of more liability through the supply chain and it just created a real mess at the time. It's trying to kind of predict now, knowing what we know now about what's going to happen going forward. I've rambled on so long there, I forgot what the original question was.

Jonny [1:3:24]: Yes, I think. One last question for you just in interest of time, I’ll wrap things up in a sec. But one last question for you, bearing all these factors in mind, we were just talking about the finalizing, the definition of the PRC and intermediary, all that sort of stuff. But just to wrap things up, if you look at, obviously, there's a lot of uncertainty at the moment; it's chaos, we've got COVID, we've got locked downs, lots of things, dynamic things happening in the economy. What are the main things you're going to be watching out for, specifically in this space between now and early January?

James [1:4:06]: Between now and early January. I’ve been trying to move home. So, I didn't really pay attention to it now that you’ve asked me that.

Jonny [1:4:13]: Maybe if we say by kind of from now till the end of Q1next year.

James [1:4:19]: That’s the key thing, we’ve actually got away with barely mentioning the C-word through most of this, but I suppose that is -- it plays into what I was saying about awareness, about forcing people to put a different lens on things. Nothing has done that more than the pandemic. So, everyone is looking at all the options, everyone's interested in reading the latest white papers about working practices, about how to get the best value out of the workforce, how to get people back into work. There's a piece there and all these people in employment are working on a project at the moment within the health sector, big program, directly responding to COVID, but we're looking at all of the sectors that have been impacted by COVID, how we bring people back in, and some of it has got packages of work, creating outputs, and using skills that are out there. Yes, I don't know what to expect.

I'm not looking out for anything specific or my bite in my nature when I look out for the risks and the things that people aren't necessarily thinking of coming back to that point around umbrellas and extending the supply chains and people just using the excuse, and actually taking tests, as an example. Again, when the return program is activated in the NHS, very quickly you started to see new stories about the fact that these tax avoidance schemes they were jumping on them as they were going back and saying, come and join us because you can go back into work as a nurse and still take home 90% of your pay. So, for me, because I just take that sort of commercial finance point-of-view, I'm just looking out for the models that people are pushing in the market to take advantage of it and trying to either call out the ones that are cynical and actually just going to create more risks than they're solving. And actually, helping them to promote the people that are genuinely trying to come up with something new and inefficient industry because it's a wonderful time. And it's a wonderful time for looking at technology, how you use technology, which has been a support to that older model. But yes, anything that I'm expecting…

Jonny [1:6:26]: It being a wonderful time, we've got Christmas, with some sort of Christmas coming up, we're in a lockdown, moving house. Is that a stressful thing at this point in time or is it fairly straightforward?

James [1:6:41]: I’ve only done it a few times in my life. When the lockdown got announced and I’ve kind of like, right, okay, well, the thing we're waiting on is a survey. We've actually got all of the contracts ready to go and then someone booked a few in the chain, booked a few survey appointments, and we're kind of like waiting with bated breath, the decision from the housing minister about whether surveyors would be classed as trades people and therefore allowed in the house. So, it creates that kind of stress. But now apart from that, it's going to happen.

Jonny [1:7:10]: Is that being announced now?

James [1:7:13]: Yes, the housing minister was quite quick off the mark actually after Boris announced the lockdown to say, “We've made the decision in advance of the announcement that the housing market…” -- I mean what would have been the point in dropping stamp duty and injecting the market, and then only to put a big stuff in it again. So, they were very clear that nothing would stop. I was just worried that when they gave the list of trades people, even their intuitive cleaners and people coming and serve as your hubs, it just didn't say surveyors on it. So, it's moving ahead. 

It's busy, and it's crazy, and it's more stressful than normal because every agent I’ve spoken to, every solicitor I’ve spoken says that they've never seen anything like it in terms of sheer volumes. There are now a lot of estate agents that are sending out or to reply to emails saying the market's crazy, solicitors are telling us that they won't respond to things for 72 hours instead of 24 hours, now everyone’s parting down these extended letters down the chain.

Jonny [1:8:18]: It was very notable initially in what the government did with announcing this latest lockdown, it's notable that they were being protective of the construction and that kind of house buying sector in the sense of trying to be able to keep that moving. But yes, good luck. It sounds like it's going to be an interesting few months.

James [1:8:37]: Yes. But what is interesting, I do think and I don't know from personal experience, but in terms of trends, normally in a recession, self-employment is the first thing to get hit. The pandemic – and I say this as someone who got a pretty hefty jump on his mortgage with less than two years trading, which I never would have done, actually, if it wasn't for the pandemic, I'm quite interested to see what happens around… 

Because there was already a trend to more self-employment and the whole idea of the hustle – I hate that sound – but the side hustle would, you know, a lot of people coming into the work, even straight out of university, going into the world of work, but also actually turning their hobbies into some kind of [1:9:24 cross talking] business.

Jonny [1:9:23]: Just don’t say gig. Don’t say gig. 

James [1:9:25]: I won’t even say the word. Yes, okay. I won’t mention it as part of the economy. But that is a factor that is a consideration. I do wonder whether this is going to be a very different kind of recession to the last one. I should have clearer objective on this. I did an economics degree at the London School of Economics, but I didn't pay much attention to it. I think it's going to be a very different beast in terms of where it drives people's behaviors about taking matters into their hands, thinking about what's going on in America. I don't want to be using terminology like that. But being masters of their own destiny and I think that's going to drive more people wanting to deliver their services, not wanting an employer. So, I think we're going to see something quite different, quite unique happening. [1:10:15 inaudible] that’s just an extended whatever, stick my neck out and make any kind of wild prognosis.

Jonny [1:10:21]: Yes, I don’t think it’s that wild to think the future of work is such a massive topic and the way that people look at work and the ways to deliver their expertise, I think there are more opportunities to do that in different ways than there ever have been. It has just opened up massively. But yes, really, really interesting period with all of the different pressures, as you say, from COVID, and IR35, and all sorts of different things that are impacting the economy at the moment. So, it feels like a massive period of flux. But yes, it will be interesting to watch what happens with the work that you're doing. I'm sure that you'll be involved in some pretty leading-edge projects in relation to how people address these issues and how that looks going forward.

James [1:11:03]: Or I just do what I quite often do is just make something up with a blank piece of paper and then try and make it a reality.

Jonny [1:11:10]: Excellent stuff. Well, listen James, thanks so much, really appreciate your time. It's been great chatting to you. Good luck with the house move and good luck with everything that you're doing with Imperfect Circle, and yes, hopefully, we will chat again soon.

James: [1:11:23]: Thanks very much. 

Jonny: [1:11:24]: See you pal. Take care.

James [1:11:25]: You too.

Jonny [1:11:26]: Yes.

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