Financial services contracts: what’s involved in pre-employment screening

If you haven’t come across it before, the requirement to undergo a background check before working for a financial services firm might seem quite intimidating. Actually it’s straightforward and is part of the regulatory control put in place by the Financial Services Authority.

We’ve asked industry expert Alexandra Kelly, Managing Director of HireRight in the EMEA region and the founder of screening firm Powerchex, to explain what pre-employment screening is and give some tips on making the process easy and hassle free.

For any employer taking on a new employee or a contractor there is a need to be confident on the answer to two key questions:

  1. Can the information the candidate has given about their experience and skills be verified?
  2. Are there any risk factors that must be taken account of?

Pre-employment screening simply offers companies the opportunity to have an objective third party help to answer these questions.

What will you have to do?

You’ll be asked to complete a screening questionnaire, either online or on paper, and with that provide documents to go with the information that you have given.  Examples of the information you’ll be asked for are:

  • Your identity
  • Your address history over a period of six years
  • Details of your academic and professional qualifications
  • Your employment history
  • Details of any companies for which you are a Director

In addition to providing information you’ll be asked to give consent to information being requested about your credit status and history, any criminal records and other database searches.

What happens next?

The information you provide can now be verified. As an example your address history can be verified against the electoral roll and former employers can be approached to validate the dates and job titles you have given.

At the same time an application is made for a credit report and for the disclosure of criminal records. The credit records will be both for you as an individual and also for any limited company you operate through.

Where you operate your own business, as well as checking the details with Companies House, you will need to provide details of some previous customers and the accountant who prepares your annual returns.

As the screening progresses, you may be contacted if there is any information that needs further clarification. If you do get a call, don’t panic. It’s not at all uncommon to need to find an alternative contact for employment references or to clarify dates.

Once all the information has been gathered, then it is provided as a report to the employer. It’s important to realise that the screening company takes no part in making any decisions about any decisions made with the information provided.

How can you be best prepared?

Keep your credit report up to date

It’s worth making sure that there are no surprises on your report. All of the big credit reference companies provide services allowing you see the data they hold and we all know that sometimes oddities turn up. You should keep track of what appears and ensure that if something shows up that isn’t valid you should get it removed.

Make your address history visible

When you complete the electoral register, there is an option to withhold your details from third parties. If you tick this option it means that you will have to provide additional evidence for each address you have lived at over the last six years which will inevitably delay the checking process.

Keep your employment records

One of the biggest possible causes of delay is an incomplete employment history. This can be especially hard for contractors who often have gaps between engagements. Making sure you have detailed records gives the best chance to get responses from employers especially for short term engagements that may have happened several years ago.

Friday 25th November 2011