18 Mar 2021
Airport window woman walking suitcase departure hall

A better approach for managing risk and compliance for business travel.

18 Mar 2021
Related topics Consulting Technology Risk

As an organization’s workforce becomes more mobile, compliance and managing risk for short term business travel (STBT) is becoming more complex.

Seamless global mobility solutions

It’s a major destination for business travelers but the UK also has some of the world’s most challenging mobility regulations, with complex rules concerning pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) and social security tax.
One large international bank (the Bank) had negotiated a relaxation of these rules for short-term business travel (STBT), but in 2014, was struggling to meet the terms of its agreement with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by providing evidence of how many employees were traveling to the UK, how long they were staying and why they were visiting. Failure to supply this information left the Bank at risk of significant fines or of facing a much tougher reporting regime.

At a glance:

  • 7,500 offices
  • 80 countries
  • 35,000 STBTs each year, approximately

A broad approach to better manage risk

EY worked with the Bank to roll out a professional mobility solution — Travel, Risk and Compliance (TRAC) - to monitor inbound travelers to the UK. By analyzing data submitted before each trip, TRAC quickly assesses each traveler — automatically clearing some for travel and referring others for a full case assessment. In these cases, travelers are contacted within 24 hours by an EY immigration professional who talks them through their trip, either clearing them for travel, helping modify the purpose of their trip or applying for a work permit.

But solving the UK problem exposed a bigger challenge — in the first year of the project, TRAC processed more than five times as many cases as the Bank had expected. This highlighted the need for a more global approach to managing STBT risk, especially as increasing numbers of Bank employees around the world were being stopped at borders and, in some cases, refused entry for providing incorrect information regarding their visit.

We soon realized this was a wide-scale problem — the Bank was expecting EY teams to assess about 2,000-3,000 trips into the UK, but in the first year, we processed nearly 12,000.
John Meehan
EY UK LLP Global Lead Partner for Mobility Services

Phased solution addressed complex challenges

Using data analysis to identify the Bank’s most important travel destinations from a volume and risk perspective, EY began a global deployment of TRAC. As well as helping to have smooth experiences for STBTs, the data from TRAC also enabled EY to perform detailed tax analysis of the Bank’s business travel, allowing EY to build detailed country-by-country reports and meet all global regulatory reporting requirements.

Key outcomes:

  • 82,000 business trips assessed for 35,000 travelers each year
  • Improved mitigation of employment tax risks for STBTs into the UK
  • Increased awareness of STBT risks globally

Risk-based perspective to immigration

The success of TRAC encouraged the Bank to ask EY to help develop a risk-based approach to its immigration processes — moving beyond STBT to employees on traditional assignments, local hire transfers and graduates hired internationally.

Again, EY started by using data analysis to focus on countries with the greatest volume of employees and the highest risk. EY teams worked with the Bank to build a global immigration solution, first focusing on those target countries and then scaling up the solution to other regions. 

As well as streamlining the visa process — reducing time and costs — the solution also allows for the early identification of emerging immigration issues. 

For example, local knowledge from EY immigration professionals across the globe helps deliver early insight into countries that may be changing their rules around overseas workers, or where the Bank may need to begin obtaining visas for employees or managing visa quotas. 

As the rollout continues, the program will eventually manage work visas for every Bank employee working overseas and will offer support in meeting social security requirements, basic permanent establishment rules and other regulations. 

Key outcomes

  • 23 countries, covering 66% of the Bank’s international workers
  • Q2 2019 will see global rollout complete

EY UK LLP Global Lead Partner for Mobility Service John Meehan says this proactive, risk-based approach to immigration based on digitally enabled data analysis has made the difference to the Bank, reaping significant benefits through better mitigating risks, saving costs and time, and improving employee satisfaction.

“Using rigorous and robust immigration logic up front to insert a barrier to travel is not how most companies think about global immigration,” Meehan says. “But managing travel risk up front rather than waiting until a problem arises is a far better solution for the Bank, given its risk challenges.” 


EY was approached by a major bank to help it to simplify how it managed, recorded and reported employee short term business travel (STBT). With increasing mobility of its workforce, the bank wanted to ensure it complied with travel and visa regulatory regimes in countries its staff were travelling to. EY implemented its Travel, Risk and Compliance (TRAC) professional mobility solution, initially covering travellers to the UK. It’s success encouraged the bank to work with EY to develop a risk-based approach to its immigration process covering more than 20 countries.