Editor’s Note: Nicole A. Hoffert, CPP, has been employed in the financial reporting and payroll sector for 22 years. She found her passion for global payroll and tax compliance during her work with a global construction and engineering firm that operated in more than 40 countries. She joined Wells Fargo in July 2015. Currently, Nicole is a Tax Manager for Wells Fargo Global Payroll Services Regulatory Specialties Center of Excellence. Her team manages special projects and reporting, including tracking and reporting of short-term business travel, trailing liabilities for cross-border-relocating team members, and project management of the domestic year-end process. Nicole has a Bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Phoenix and an MBA from Grand Canyon University focusing on International Business.
What are the emerging trends that have your attention in global payroll?
The emerging topics I find most engaging are short-term business travel tracking and reporting, trailing liabilities, and audit standardization. The trend in cross-border moves (non-expatriate) is growing, and country reporting requirements are increasing the risk level for companies. The complexity of tax obligations crossing multiple years from stock option plans and deferred long-term cash awards is just a piece of the dynamic challenge companies have to address in global expansion.
What resources do you use to stay current on the latest trends and legislation in global payroll?
I stay current by engaging in industry forums, networking through LinkedIn, consulting with internal and external business partners in legal, payroll, global mobility, and tax, and consulting online payroll and tax compliance resources.
How can a global payroll department integrate on a strategic level with corporate finance, human resources (HR), and other departments to provide a competitive advantage?
Building and maintaining business partnerships is the foundation for successfully navigating the global landscape. Corporate finance, legal, tax, and HR are only a few examples of integration. One must always consider the big picture. In other words, the issues and challenges payroll faces that have implications for other teams. When you build forums to discuss the issues—and how they impact the different groups— you can create a cohesive team and standardize policies and procedures for strategic resolutions. This bond and collaborative approach builds a solid global foundation to becoming an industry leader.
What are the key considerations in managing risk and compliance across your annual timeline?
A standardized project plan across all regions of global payroll is the key to strategically managing the multiple year-end calendars across countries. The project plan should include all activities and the timeline for year-end through the first paycheck of the following tax year. Meetings to coordinate task completion and a follow-up on lessons learned each year should be included to continually enhance the process.
What global process server model do you use in global payroll, and why does this work best for you?
The organization in which I work has a centralized model with regional payroll teams. We have a defined global payroll model with technological support and business partnerships with supportive teams (compensation, global mobility, and benefits, etc.) Our strategic leadership and collaborative organizational support provide a strong foundation for business growth.
What are some pieces of wisdom—your on-the-job experience—that you can share in regard to being effective, efficient, and legally compliant in the sphere of working in global payroll?
Global payroll is a constantly changing landscape. One must assume a proactive role to stay in the game. It is important to join international forums on payroll, tax, and compliance with other companies and share best practices. Building partnerships throughout the industry and signing up for newsletters from audit firms, payroll professional organizations, and legal compliance organizations are just some of the measures available. There is always an opportunity to learn—so be engaging and take the initiative.
What kinds of training and education would be most useful for someone moving from domestic to global payroll?
The Global Payroll Management Certificate Program provided by the American Payroll Association (APA), webinars provided by the Global Payroll Management Institute (GPMI), as well as audit firms and BNA, are all valuable training and education.
What non-payroll-related education or training would be most useful for an individual moving from domestic to global payroll?
The Forum for Expatriate Management focuses on benefits, immigration, and taxation of relocating employees and has webinars and events I have found very helpful. I subscribe to the Project Management Institute newsletter for valuable tips on managing cross-functional projects and Lexology for legal updates across the globe.
What are the most important qualities of effective leadership?
Open, honest communication and mutual respect are important qualities for being an effective leader. In a landscape where many of us work remotely from our teams, it is critical we communicate on projects and changes. I believe we all have knowledge that can be shared, so we should respect and value what others have to bring to the table.
What strategies do you use in team-building?
As I work on the other side of the country from my direct reports, I engage in weekly 1:1 meetings and monthly team video meetings. I give team members the opportunity to present during team meetings and share knowledge they have obtained from seminars or prior experience. I make consistent use of our recognition program to provide feedback and share with others how much their contributions are valued by the team. My team members are encouraged to bring forward any ideas they have for projects and process improvement.
What are key qualities you look for in people you hire?
Someone who is proactive and takes the initiative to think outside the box, engaged and passionate about the subject matter, shows an interest in building internal and external partnerships, and demonstrates an openness to change.
How do you personally manage to balance work and pleasure?
It is always a challenge to find a balance when you are passionate about your profession. It has always been important to me to stretch beyond my goals and be a leader of change. I enjoy working with so many different cultures and personalities and consider myself to have a “work family.” I approach each day with a positive outlook. If negative issues come up, I look to the learning potential to turn the day around. I am fortunate to have a supportive family at home and work in a great organization with inspirational leadership that always bring laughter to the stage.
What books are on your reading list?
Some of the books I’ve been reading include The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey; The GE Way by Jack Welch; Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg; Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive; and Business Cases that Mean Business by Jim Maholic.