Q&A with PwC’s Peter Clarke
Peter Clarke is a Practice Leader for PwC Global
Mobility Services. He sat down with ALM
Intelligence’s Matt Merker, Senior Analyst, Lead
for Benefits Consulting Research, to discuss the
firm’s global mobility practice.
: Can you tell us
about PwC’s global mobility practice?
Clarke: PwC’s HR consulting capabilities are organized under one unified, global brand: People and Organization—a single global business
bringing together over 10,000 people
across 141 countries. Global mobility
is one of the four pillars that make up
the People and Organization practice.
Our global mobility network of more
than 7,500 mobility specialists helps
companies manage the complex operational and strategic aspects of deploying an international workforce. Today,
I’m proud to say we are serving more
than 330,000 mobile employees from
nearly 4,000 companies. We collaborate with clients of all sizes and maturity to develop a mobility strategy that
addresses all aspects of their mobility
program, including tax, immigration,
Social Security, policy and process
design, payroll reporting and global
compensation collection, governance
and mobility technology.
: What challenges
are your clients facing in this space,
and how have these changed?
Clarke: Mobility demographics have
shifted significantly over the last few
years. As the future of work evolves,
so does the nature of talent mobility, in
fundamental ways. Most of the growth
in talent mobility is coming not from
traditional expatriates, but from a vari-
ety of new mobility types—commut-
ers, business travelers, virtual assign-
ments, etc. The need for employees
to work in a global context, beyond
country boundaries, is key to the way
to our clients operate. However, these
new mobility types make companies
vulnerable to income tax, immigra-
tion, social security, and scrutiny from
corporate tax authorities. This means
that companies are expected to have
processes, policies, and technology
in place to ensure they know where
employees are, what they are doing,
and that reporting requirements are
met. Ultimately, it’s about helping our
clients keep both compliant and agile
in a time with changing mobility pat-
terns and digital disruption.
: Which regions are
most challenging for mobility?Why?
Clarke: Expansion into new markets
creates a good number of mobility challenges, simply because many of the targeted markets are unfamiliar and difficult to enter. Participants in our recent
Modern Mobility study told us that tax
and immigration compliance are the
main challenges to moving employees, with security considerations and
pension benefits also frequently cited.
Participants also said they have found
most challenging locations to move
people to be Africa and Asia Pacific.
Everyone wants a position in London,
New York or Sydney. More than 70
percent of millennials in a 2011 PwC
survey said they would like to work
abroad, making this one of the most
important attributes for a graduate
employer. The problem is that many of
the markets businesses are likely to be
targeting fare low down the list of the
millennials’ favored destinations.
: How has digi-
tal innovation impacted your global
mobility consulting practice?
Clarke: Digital innovation plays a crit-
ical role in how we service our clients.
In an ecosystem as complex and frag-
mented as global mobility, use of inno-
vative technology is essential to drive
efficiency, minimize risk, and facili-
tate a smooth experience for both the
employee and HR user. We continue to
be hyper focused on innovating and are
investing heavily in our digital com-
pliance model. One key area we are
focusing resources is in harnessing the
full power of our data using machine
learning capabilities. The very nature
of machine learning allows us to make
even more accurate predictions on
where people may travel in the future
and to predict if an employee will have
a successful mobility experience.
: What are some
trends for employee global mobility?
Clarke: No doubt, technology will
continue to change the way we inter-
act and do work. In fact, virtual and
augmented reality will significantly
increase the quality of our communi-
cations within the work environment.
However, we believe this will not result
in a corresponding reduction in the
global mobility of the workforce. Why?
Because millennials value experiences
over everything else. Perhaps more so
than any other generation of workers,
millennials value the non-monetary
aspects of the experiences more than
compensation, giving rise to what
economists are calling the “experience
economy”. Thus, organizations that
can offer a frictionless mobility experi-
ence that allows employees to work in
San Jose, Shanghai or Stockholm will
have an advantage in the war for talent.
This is the future of global mobility.