back to article Bankers bid to use offshore temp techies

Financial services organisations could parachute IT staff in wherever they please instead of employing locals, under provisions of an annex to the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) revealed today by WikiLeaks. TISA is a trade agreement aimed at making it easier for service providers to access foreign markets. But the …

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  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Qualified

    Are many of the IT professionals from these nations qualified parachutists?

    It is going to create traffic problems if large numbers of them are dropped into the square mile and the chutes don't open

  2. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Er, I don't see anything wrong with it

    It looks to me like a provision saying "we can bring in people that know what the hell they're doing to fix our shit when it's broke, without waiting for an 8-week visa process"

    If I was running one of these banker's global IT departments, I'd have just one team of smart guys that fly to where ever they're needed to fix stuff, when the local team of idiots screw the pooch again. These blokes will probably be pretty highly paid, but there will just be the one bunch.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Er, I don't see anything wrong with it

      Im sure that may have been the initial intent of the clause. However who would be surprised to see it used to parachute some "offshoring" or "cost management" specialists into a high cost location.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: Er, I don't see anything wrong with it

      "to fix our shit when it's broke"

      Does your shit often run out of money then?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Er, I don't see anything wrong with it

        No, he's just poorly educated. Probably from a chavtastic inner city school somewhere and crept into the back door of IT through working at PC World.

        Along with saying 'broke' when they mean 'broken', another classic sign of such ignorance is the use of 'anythink' instead of 'anything'...

    3. Suricou Raven

      Re: Er, I don't see anything wrong with it

      It's not a problem for what it does directly, but for the consequences of what it does. It allows for increased international competition in the labor market. That's great for employers, and good for their customers too as some of the savings will be passed on to them. It's not good for employees, as it contributes to the 'race to the bottom' regulatory scenario. If country A (Say, the UK, or America) requires things like maternity/paternity leave, minimal annual leave days, sick pay, worker compensation for injury sustained at work, pension contributions and so on then employers will be able to simply not hire in A, and instead hire someone from country B where none of that is an issue and they are free to overwork their employees and toss them aside when finished with. This in turn means that country A has to lower their standards of worker protection to remain competative, because an exploited worker is still more productive than an unemployed non-worker.

      There's always been a tension between employers and labor, but increasing globalisation tilts things a lot further towards the employer's favor. There are similar concerns about the secretive TPP treaty allowing businesses to be more internationally mobile, as it would make it much easier for them to shop around for the cheapest, most exploitable labor.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Sucker Raven Re: Er, I don't see anything wrong with it

        Same old anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist mantra - "it's all about screwing the worker!". If country B already has trained workers that are cheaper than country A then they will base the business in B, not A in the first place. That is ALL permanent jobs go to country B. But, if the company keeps their office in country A and imports one or two highly-skilled people from country B for specific and short-term contract (twelve months at most), then the MAJORITY of permie jobs stay in country A. Now, let me see, none vs majority, which is better for the majority of workers?

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

    While it appears that Pakistan is, India is not. I would have thought India would have been in, if nothing else to be part of the "off shoring".

    1. Guus Leeuw

      Re: Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

      Dear Mark,

      are you serious? The game of politics dictates that you try and do The Right Thing at first, leave it open enough to enter new parties at a later, so that there can be no bad intent at first, because, well, India is not privy to the party. Then when dust has settled, somebody will quietly allow India to become part of the TISA deal, and voila your helicoptered-parachuted 12-month contracted IT "specialists" all of a sudden are everywhere.

      While that practise is already happening, Barclays does it for sure, it is in fact not always very legal, in that it utilises some gray areas in income tax law. This regulation will make those gray areas very white and clear.

      The downside is that a lot of contractors will be marketed out of the market at first, as they would be way too expensive. At second, a lot of the permanent staff could get in trouble here, because "temp" in TISA will be interpreted as "temporarily onshore" limiting the time to say 6 or 12 months, whereupon there will be a clause that requires people to be offshore for about 30 - 90 days, and then they can come back for more of the 6 - 12 months... So all in all, not so "temp" as the politicians hope it will be.

      What I do not understand in all this, and yes I am a migrating / vagabonding IT expert, is that western countries are so willingly giving away everything that made the western countries so great in the first place. Blue collar work: mostly in China nowadays; white collar work: Eastern Europe (Financial Services) and India (IT)... They will give away more and more of what is left (Service Industry) until such point that all the locals are forced to work in Hospitality for all the "temp" "offshore" guys to get food. Oh wait, they can't afford that, so no need for Hospitality business either... Oh well... Hey let's start another war and kill 16 of the 17 million locals... That'll safe huge amounts of money on dole payouts every bleedin' week...

      I wish they copped on to real reality, rather than shareholder (gambler) reality...

      Just my €tuppence,

      Guus

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Guus Re: Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

        OK, let's accept for the moment the idea that a bank would allow it's IT staff to continually swap in and out staff on a twelve month cycle, what happens under such a scheme? Well, firstly, every time you add in your new temp you would see a drop in productivity in the whole team as your existing staff have to train them on your systems until they know enough to be productive. Then your have to rinse and repeat after twelve months. Every twelve months. The impact would outweighs the savings. At least they would on complex IT work, but not on cookie-cutter roles such as junior coders. But then those type of easily-replaced jobs have already been off-shored anyway.

        There might be a few FDs that might want to try it, but the truth is that banks do not usually employ stupid people to run their IT. They have seen the impact of hasty outsourcing and off-shoring and the key question they ask nowadays is 'if this goes wrong, what will the financial impact of the loss of operations on the bank be?' Sometimes they get that wrong, but it is not that common, and the banks that do get hammered in the press and the market. They have all learnt from those public errors. Which is why they want the ability to move skilled staff to the places they need them, rather than replace skilled staff with cheap ones as Guus believes.

        1. Guus Leeuw

          Re: Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

          Dear Matt,

          Are you at all in an (half) off-shored account within IT? Do you know that Indians (and God bless them, I would do the same) are job-hopping all the time to get a better deal? We've lost 75% of our offshore DBAs just a while ago, simply because Oracle India is prepared to give the "guys" a better deal. There's huge turnover of staff in IT in India. So what you're describing is already happening as it is. So not a big problem.

          My point, though, is more about local people being forced out of a job, for the sake of some gamblers making a bit more dough on the side... I, for one, cannot work as a permanent employee: the amount of people I would upset (in untold ways) would be countless... The fact that appraisals are used more of an assessment as to whether or not to fire a person, rather than actually appraise a person just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Now, if my next role is in India / China / Philippines, I'll gladly accept. However that is unlikely because they have billions of people and are ingrained in IT as it stands, so they get the knowledge already, and wouldn't need me, even on local (India) wages.

          Similar to Starbucks / Amazon / Google wriggling themselves out of taxpayments and some laws just because they are financially powerful and hence have friends in high places... That in itself doesn't mean that they should be allowed to run rough-shot over John Doe and friends...

          Regards,

          Guus

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            WTF?

            Re: Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

            "Are you at all in an (half) off-shored account within IT?..." I have worked in several half-off-shored businesses. Indeed, one of the most amusing events was when I contracted for certain UK-based telecom and had to go out to India, where the local staff were threatening to strike because we kept bringing experienced UK staff and contractors (including hiring UK-born Indians!) rather than promoting local staff.

            "....Do you know that Indians (and God bless them, I would do the same) are job-hopping all the time...." You do do the same. In fact, in the boom times, especially in the run up to Y2K, we were throwing retention bonuses at key staff and contractors because they expected to be moving to 'something new' (which usually meant 'more dosh') every six months! At many places today it is rare to find any staff that had been there longer than two years, permies or contractors!

            ".....We've lost 75% of our offshore DBAs just a while ago, simply because Oracle India is prepared to give the "guys" a better deal....." So you paid them poorly and did not follow the rise in pay in the market. And, TBH, Oracle don't pay even the market average for a really skilled DBA.

            "....Similar to Starbucks / Amazon / Google wriggling themselves out of taxpayments and some laws just because they are financially powerful and hence have friends in high places... That in itself doesn't mean that they should be allowed to run rough-shot over John Doe and friends..." argument lost, fall back on standard anti-corporate boilerplate about tax-dodging. Yawn, TBH.

        2. TopOnePercent Silver badge

          Re: Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

          Sometimes they get that wrong, but it is not that common, and the banks that do get hammered in the press and the market. They have all learnt from those public errors.

          Working for one of the not yet hammered banks, I'm afraid the idea that they have learned anything from it is a delrious fantasy. I wish it weren't so.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Matt

          "There might be a few FDs that might want to try it, but the truth is that banks do not usually employ stupid people to run their IT. They have seen the impact of hasty outsourcing and off-shoring and the key question they ask nowadays is 'if this goes wrong..."

          This isn't how it looks to me. Seems that all large international corporations are totally addicted to outsourcing and offshoring as the magical solution to all of their IT problems, and have their heads in the sand as to the problems it causes. If your assertion were correct, then they'd be looking at a lot of the poor decisions made in the past, and be bringing roles back to the home market of the bank. What we actually see is them simply re-sourcing contracts to a yet another poor quality global ITO or BPO, and signing up to contracts that they don't fully understand.

          The vast information asymmetry between BPO vendors and BPO buyers means it always has the same outcome - the buyer never understands the contract as well as the vendor, nor does the buyer understand the business model of the vendor. Amusingly this is how financial services make their money, by stiffing their customers, so I suppose the universe stays in balance only so long as banks are victims of their own crap decisions to offshore.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: AC Re: @Matt

            ".....then they'd be looking at a lot of the poor decisions made in the past, and be bringing roles back to the home market of the bank...." Hate to break it to you but not all outsourcing or off-shoring projects result in failure. Indeed, some actually lead to a marked improvement in service and savings, usually because the new staff don't have preconceptions about being 'owed a job' and don't slack off. An example would be when a lot of call-centres moved from the South up to Scotland, where the people were a lot more eager to work as there were less jobs in the area. I also hear a lot of completely unjustified moaning about Indians in particular, especially the often repeated lie that they 'can't speak English properly' (really ironic to hear that one from someone with a strong Brummie accent, believe me). Sure, it's not always perfect, and there are cultural clashes, but to pretend all off-shoring results in poorer standards or service is a myth.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: AC @Matt

              "Hate to break it to you but not all outsourcing or off-shoring projects result in failure. "

              Why do you hate to break it to me? That wasn't what I said at all. I suppose it's easier to respond to the question you'd like to answer than the one that was posed. Have you considered a career in politics?

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: AC @Matt

                ".....Why do you hate to break it to me?...." OK, if it makes you feel any happier, I will happily say that not all outsourcing/off-shoring ends in failure, as you implied by saying 'then they'd be looking at a lot of the poor decisions made in the past' - maybe you're just unused to a successful project, is that the bit that's new to you?

                "....the question you'd like to answer than the one that was posed....." It was in answer to your assertion that all outsourcing/off-shoring had been 'bad decisions'. As to a question, your post just made a load of statements, not one question.

        4. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

          Thanks Matt - funniest post ever. You have obviously never worked in financial services.

          Every bank CFO and CIO has behaved exactly as you have assumed they wont.

          Even if they wont - there is some ladder climbing PHB below them who will.

          Source :10 years FS IT experience.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Gordon 10 Re: Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

            ".....You have obviously never worked in financial services....." It would be quicker to list the high street banks I haven't worked for, mostly as a contractor, and most of the City names would not be familiar enough to register with the average reader (though two get regular airtime with the anti-capitalists that like to visit these forums for a good moan). YMMV, but on the whole I have found the majority of IT middle-management to be pretty good in the UK financial sector, though some of the senior management/directors were very poor. Though I have seem some excellent examples of poor communication to those at the coal face. And that's over a lot longer than ten years, thanks.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Gordon 10 Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

              " It would be quicker to list the high street banks I haven't worked for"

              Whooooo, High Street banks - the heady heights of the pinnacle of the financial services sector.

              After 17 years I can concur that most IT middle-management in financial services is pretty clueless and, in general, the area is filled with buzzword spouting monkeys with little knowledge or practical ability other than to be able to spout rubbish from Info Weekly or whatever tattle they read in the hopes that their boss or someone else senior will be enamored with their nonsense and promote them. They are also the reason why most business people despise IT.

              1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: AC Re: Gordon 10 Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

                ".....Whooooo, High Street banks - the heady heights of the pinnacle of the financial services sector....." Aw, ickle AC still sulking? You do realise (OK, you obviously don't, but it seems only fair to give you the benefit of the doubt) that ALL the high-street banks run not just investment arms but some also run very specialised investment arms? I could list lots of heavyweight investment companies that Joe Average will never have heard of, that wouldn't help, so hence the inclusion of the high-street banks. Of course, the big difference between the small-but-heavyweight investment companies and the high-street banks is the high-street banks have much bigger IT operations, covering not just trading floors and associated systems but also distributed international branch offices, and so are much more likely to require a spread of specialist temps than whatever tiny investment firm you may have made coffee for.

                ".....After 17 years...." Given your lack of insight into what the global banking companies do with their IT, I'd have to ask was that all tape monkey work or similar?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: AC Gordon 10 Guus Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

                  Head of trading IT actually princess.

      2. TopOnePercent Silver badge

        Re: Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

        I wish they copped on to real reality, rather than shareholder (gambler) reality...

        Guus, I agree with everything you wrote bar the part above.

        I am both a shareholder in and customer of the bank I work for. As a shareholder, I'm interested in stable long term gains over the cost of capital.

        Shareholders aren't the cause of the problem - senior managers are.

        1. Guus Leeuw

          Re: Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

          Dear TopOnePercent,

          my remark probably is a bit too straight... Individual shareholders are not at fault here any longer (although they contribute, some more than others; and yes, there are exceptions)... It's the collective gambling that happens with futures of sooo many people that just isn't right, especially when things like jobs are being toyed with.

          Regards,

          Guus

          1. TopOnePercent Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

            my remark probably is a bit too straight... Individual shareholders are not at fault here any longer (although they contribute, some more than others; and yes, there are exceptions)... It's the collective gambling that happens with futures of sooo many people that just isn't right, especially when things like jobs are being toyed with.

            As a shareholding employee, whose future is being toyed with, I can pretty much agree with that.

            What would be immensely helpful in rectifying that situation was if the institutional shareholders (pension funds) had to pass along their votes to the underlying investors. That way the big fund managers couldn't ride roughshod over the smaller shareholders, as overnight, ordinary people would become the big shareholders.

        2. Roo
          Windows

          Re: Interesting on who is and who is not on the map....

          "Shareholders aren't the cause of the problem - senior managers are."

          Individual shareholders are not really in a position to dictate terms to the managers, on the other hand big share-holding institutions like pension funds for example are - and a fair number of them fail to pay due attention to how the company is run. The credit crunch illustrated this fact of life very clearly...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old news

    That trick has already been used a long time ago.

    I lost my job as a sys admin whilst working a a large financial services company when the two local employees, me included, were shoved out of the door and replaced by people shipped in from India. Three men would do the job of us two for half the price. I later heard that the call centre was in chaos, the poor sods had two weeks to sort out a system that had taken us five years to set up and we were told by our managers to give the barest minimum of assistance. "Show 'em where the loos are, and leave it at that." sort of thing. Added to which there was, apparently, some difficulty with language.

    That was 14 years ago, so really large companies have already anticipated this agreement.

    Anonymous as there was a gagging clause in our payoff agreement.

  5. P. Lee Silver badge

    Policy vs Practise

    I know of at least one bank with a policy of offshoring. The actual IT managers use phoney "projects" and third-party consultancies to run BAU because of the chaos offshoring involves.

    To me, this sounds like a way to bring offshore onsite on a rotation basis. If you think that's unlikely, around 14 years ago Perot Systems were bussing people from Nottingham to Maidenhead each week. With this arrangement, you can hire Bulgarians and bus them around Europe to different sites on rotation, so that the next job is always relatively close.

    Outsourcing. A tax on companies run by bean-counters.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is actually a good thing.

    We're not talking cheap labor, but dropping in trained professionals.

    Look at it this way... you can either allow one top techie in, or you offshore the entire project to one of your global offices.

    Take a global bank. There's a project in the UK that uses software that's new to the UK but well known to the US. You can bring in 1 or 2 guys who then cross train local staff. Or you move the project to your US office and no jobs or new skills in the UK.

    Of course as I write this... I get the feeling it will be abused and misused by most.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: This is actually a good thing.

      Or you can get some trained monkeys fresh out of uni to handle the day-to-day operations in your national offices. If something goes wrong that the monkeys can't handle, you just fly one of your very small team of consultants over to fix it.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Sucker Raven Re: This is actually a good thing.

        "Or you can get some trained monkeys fresh out of uni to handle the day-to-day operations in your national offices....." Yeah, it's called remote management, it happens already. And employing unti leavers is a bad thing? If the work they can do is cookie-cutter monkey work then they are at risk of off-shoring in the first place, so surely keeping them working in the home country is better than the whole office being off-shored?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its a lot more complicated than just this.

    These "agreements" are global power grabs.

    They are a lot more far reaching than most of the media is describing. It would not be an exaggeration to call them collectively a coup of sorts to completely overrule democracy in dozens of important ways and implement, irreversibly (you didn't know that?) a wish list from hell for multinational corporations.

    TISA may enable large scale movements of contractors (for example, teachers, agricultural workers, nurses, computer staff, not just in finacial services, all public services especially.)

    TISA is much more than just the financial services chapter.

    You can get a much better idea of its scope by watching the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_pPqnbXpA4 (and the other videos from the same day, especially Scott Sinclair)

    Also, see:

    TISA versus Public Services: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/National%20Office/2014/04/TISA_Versus_Public_Services.pdf

    "Why International “Trade in Services Agreement” (TISA) is Dangerous to Democracy, Development, and the Public Interest, and Must Be Stopped!": http://www.ourworldisnotforsale.org/en/article/international-trade-services-agreement-tisa-why-proposed-free-trade-agreement-fta-services-d

    "TISA, a threat to free quality public education": http://www.ei-ie.org/en/news/news_details/2659

    "342 civil society groups oppose deregulation and privatisation in proposed services agreement TISA": http://corporateeurope.org/blog/342-civil-society-groups-oppose-deregulation-and-privatisation-proposed-services-agreement-tisa

    and of course the documents on wikileaks, citizen.org, policyalternatives.ca and other sites about the so called "trade agreements" TISA's sister agreements, especially (WTO) GATS,

    The others are TTIP-TAFTA, TPP etc.

    If you dig a bit, you'll see, it is not a pretty picture what they are trying to do.

  8. cameronvale

    Flow will mostly be from other countries TO developed countries

    not the other way. And its a lot more than just IT or experts, its going to be lots of people because one of the main points is to improve the balance of trade.

    It wont be just skilled workers generally in TISA it will be service workers of all kinds, even agricultural workers. One of the main goals is to allow the developed countries more access to the rapidly growing developing world so to get that they will need to give up something, that something will be jobs in their service industries such as teaching, IT and similar to multinational contracting firms.

    So, this WILL lower wages in the developed countries, perhaps by a lot.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: cameronvale Re: Flow will mostly be from other countries TO developed countries

      "..,,And its a lot more than just IT or experts, its going to be lots of people because one of the main points is to improve the balance of trade....." Really? So none of that happens already, like the massive levels of immigration from new EU countries to the richer EU countries? Or the massive levels of immigration from the Third World countries to First World Countires?

      "....It wont be just skilled workers generally in TISA it will be service workers of all kinds, even agricultural workers....." So, Farmer Jones is going to spend the money to fly/ship 'agricultural workers' from a Third World country, where they have no knowledge or skill in First World agriculture, every twelve months? And he's going to somehow claim they are 'specialised' to the authorities? Seriously? I can't work out if you're just some racist nationalist or some anti-globalisation Leftie, it seems the extremes have gone so far they've bent into a circle and met at a new intersection of dribbling stupidity.

      ".....One of the main goals is to allow the developed countries more access to the rapidly growing developing world so to get that they will need to give up something, that something will be jobs in their service industries such as teaching, IT and similar to multinational contracting firms...." You do realise it is much cheaper to off-shore a company that keep rotating in new temp staff every twelve months? And you obviously don't know many First World countries already give preferential treatment to immigration applications from 'specialised' workers? Funnily enough, IIRC, for Australia the top priority is for plumbers and hairdressers, not teachers, nurses or IT consultants, and definitely not farm workers! Are you some racist that wants to stop skilled people from a possibly impoverished Third World country moving to a First World one and making a better life for themselves? Or are you some knuckle-dragging union type ('cos that worked so well for the US and UK's heavy industries - not!)?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Offshore Cost Savings

    Working with a major bank here, offshoring every project through a global consultancy that used to be a major Hardware Manufacturer.. Offshore took 6 months and a team of 30 to code Java solution. 4 months with a team of 20 required for QA. System had to be completely redeveloped because Java code so inefficient. Brought in 1 local developer to recode in PL/SQL: He took 4 months. Local talent 4 months = offshore 180 months. Congrats to Flat Earth Global Economy. Management is in love with these cost savings.

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