30 July 2014

trustworthy_fraudThe face of fraud is changing. Well, according to KPMG, whose latest ‘fraud barometer’ suggests that it’s no longer as prevalent in rogue senior executives, but in younger people. The report claimed that insider fraud, committed by employees, increased more than tenfold since last year. Is this a significant threat to British business? Should we be concerned?

When it comes to internal threats, I think it’s all about data and how you manage and protect that. I would argue that it’s actually the single biggest worry for businesses these days. People might underestimate just how valuable company data is, but it takes years to develop and it’s unique to your business, therefore it has to be protected. You don’t want to suddenly realise how critical it was only after it’s been leaked to a competitor.

When it comes to why people are actually motivated to steal from you, I think it goes back to the argument about investing in your staff. Whilst you can’t guarantee that if you treat people well, they will reciprocate; they’re certainly more likely to. It’s about doing your utmost to make people feel valued because a lot of the time people steal when they don’t feel valued. What also concerns me is who’s driving this. Something is only worth stealing if somebody is prepared to pay for it. So, if the number of people creating these crimes is rising, it stands to reason that the number of people prepared to accept stolen data or fraudulent goods is rising too, which is a really bad sign.

Ultimately, I think you’ve just got to be very careful about who you recruit. That being said, no-one’s going to turn up to their interview and say, “I stole from my last employer and I’m going to steal from you too!” Your job is to try to find out as best you can in as short a time as possible whether they’re aligned with company culture.

This is one of the reasons why we do Snowdon and we’ve got a really tough induction system. Quite often, people who are prepared to commit fraud are looking for a quick and easy buck. Do these kinds of people really want to trek up Snowdon, challenge their limits and get to know lots of people outside of the office? Taking people offsite to get to know them in your personal time is really valuable and I think, as an employer, it’s really worth doing. Accountants will always count the cost of how much it is to run these things, but what’s the cost of not doing it? What’s the cost of employing people who haven’t got the right values? Is simply waiting to find out worth the risk?

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