Meet the Team – Tom Forrest, Consulting Solutions Practice

Tom Forrest joined Sheffield Haworth in September 2018 to build and lead the Consulting Solutions Practice.  His focus, other than leading our busy and growing team,  is on developing our Statement of Work capability in the Financial Services Sector.

 

 

 

Tell us a little about your role within the Consulting Solutions team and the types of clients you work with?

I joined Sheffield Haworth in September 2018 to lead the Consulting Solutions practice and am responsible for growing and developing the team to be the market leader both in terms of scale and quality.  We’ve made a great start:  there are now seven fee earning consultants and we cover Banking, Insurance, Wealth & Asset Management, Alternative & Consumer Finance and Business & Professional Services.  We also have a growing presence for Digital transformation in a wide range of sectors outside financial services including Utilities and Gaming.   As the team has grown I’ve worked with clients in business services, consulting, private equity, fintech and banking.  I’m now focused on growing our Statement of Work (SoW) capability within the Banking sector:  we have recently acquired a great consulting business with a successful track record of delivering SoW into banking so watch this space.  The future looks hugely exciting at Sheffield Haworth!

 

What kind of assignments do you usually work on with your clients?

The types of assignment can vary greatly however the one constant that tends to link everything is transformation, in some form.  Whatever sector they are in our clients are in a perennial state of change!  Enhancing our capability in delivering SoW means we are now building teams for our clients which is a different kind of assignment to the placement of an individual interim or consultant at a senior level.  Our ability to provide critical cover interims, transformation leaders and teams of technical experts within a programme of work is a powerful proposition.

 

What are some of the challenges your clients are facing?

The underlying issues are increasingly connected to digital and technology.  Established players tend to have issues with legacy systems that make it harder to deliver an exceptional digital customer experience or really drive the efficiencies that AI and Machine Learning promise so there’s usually a requirement to re-platform within a wider transformation initiative.  Of course change driven by regulatory requirements is still ongoing within financial services and then there’s Brexit.  Regardless of all of that I think the biggest challenge all businesses face today is to be relevant:  there’s a lot of choice out there so why should someone spend money on you?  Clarity of proposition has never been more important.

 

Tell us about a recent assignment where you successfully placed an individual /team and how did they have a positive impact on the organisation?

A long standing client of Sheffield Haworth recently acquired an established fund services business and I provided a brilliant consultant to lead the carve out and integration. It’s a hugely complex challenge in terms of planning, scale, technology and the regulatory and stakeholder landscape.   Our consultant has had a hugely positive impact in all these areas, bringing both pace and rigour to the Programme.  The feedback from the client and the regulator has been excellent.

 

How do you think IR35 will affect the market?

First of all we will need to see the proposed changes to IR35 in the private sector actually become law.  Anything before that happens, is conjecture.  However based on what we see from the consultation process I think in their current form the changes will likely have a profound impact on lower level contractor roles and ‘gap fill’ Interim assignments but less of an impact on transformation and consulting work.  The key issue is control:  at the level our consultants operate at they are typically controlling the shaping and delivery of services, not the client.  Our assignments already have deliverables and objectives defined by the consultant and this will become more important.

We will likely see more innovation in pricing and more examples of multiple engagements.  And clearly there’s already a shift towards delivery of SoW packages via procurement frameworks, not typical recruitment channels.  While the SoW route is not a silver bullet where IR35 is concerned, it does provide the opportunity to build consulting delivery models that sit outside the regulations.  Organisations looking to build these models will need to develop new skills in understanding risk and governing their delivery; it is a different proposition to simply ‘placing’ people.  Sheffield Haworth are in a great position to capitalise on the changes to IR35 as we have a longstanding track record in SoW delivery.  Fundamentally though the world of work is changing and our clients need access to flexible skills:  they will find ways to do this regardless of changes to HMRC regulations.

 

How has the interim landscape changed over the last few years?

I’ve alluded to some of these changes in my previous answers:  I think the landscape has become much more transformation focused and great interims and consultants have got a huge part to play in helping businesses to stay relevant in this fast moving world.  There’s absolutely been an increase in requirements for digital and technology skills and the assignments are so much more than the traditional “critical cover” scenarios many still solely associate with the term “interim”.  The use of highly skilled flexible resource is now an integral part of the talent landscape for many organisations and the best interims and consultants fit seamlessly into this model.  At Sheffield Haworth I see my team’s ability to help clients solve complex transformation challenges as a crucial part of our wider offering that includes Executive Search and Talent Advisory.  The feedback from our clients on this integrated approach has been really positive and the business is going from strength to strength.

 

For more information about our Consulting Solutions Practice or to discuss your business challenges in more detail please contact Tom on t.forrest@sheffieldhaworth.com

 

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