If you’re a young person looking to start a career on the Isle of Man, you’ve probably noticed just how many of the jobs out there are with CSPs. If you bring them up, careers advisors and caring parents alike will sagely nod and say a CSP is an eminently sensible place in which to convert your time into foldable beer tokens.
Sounds good, I hear you say, but you have one more tiny question to resolve before you start pimping your CV…
What the hell is a CSP?
Luckily, Gef has your back. We sought out our nearest CSP (literally, they’re closer to our office than where we park) to get you the rundown. These answers come courtesy of a chat with SMP Partners, the company behind about a dozen of those CSP jobs being advertised.
What is a CSP?
CSP is an acronym for Corporate Service Provider. Other common acronyms for this breed of business include TSP (Trust Service Provider) and TCSP (you guessed it… Trust and Corporate Service Provider). Everything works better as an acronym; IKEA wouldn’t be half as successful if it was called Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd (I know right, who knew?!)
What do they do?
You know when you feel like you’ve got a million things to do just to keep your life together and wish you had a magical organisational genie who could buy your partner a Christmas present, work out the best insurance renewal option for your car, and tell you what on Earth an R156 form is and why the tax office wants one from you?
A CSP is the genie, but for organisations and people with way more stuff to worry about than you.
Most of the valuable resources (money, buildings, machines, ideas, celebrity Twitter accounts) in the world aren’t owned by individuals, they’re owned by ‘legal entities’ like companies and trusts. Those entities and their resources come with responsibilities that need to be managed. That management gets complicated, particularly when they cross into lots of different countries that each have different regulations, taxes, and reporting requirements. Some of those areas get so complicated they require specialist expertise just to keep on top of. That’s where the (T)CSP comes in, providing services that make managing all that responsibility easier. They carry the weight of other people’s worlds on their very broad shoulders.
What do they not do?
I’m not going to write an exhaustive list of things they don’t do, because this isn’t an article about companies that don’t breed teacup animals and don’t consumer-test varieties of popping candy. Given some of the misconceptions out there, though, there are some things we should address. CSPs don’t help people evade tax, because that’s illegal and bad for business. They don’t help companies avoid responsibilities in exchange for briefcases full of cash either, because ditto.
Sensationalist newspaper stories notwithstanding, any good CSP is all about responsibility – paying appropriate levels of tax, ensuring companies meet their regulatory requirements, and empowering clients trying to make their personal or business affairs honest and orderly.
It’s a good rule for life that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the Guardian (besides, who needs them when you’ve got Gef?!)
What would I get to do?
One great advantage of starting out in a CSP is the variety you can find in a mid-sized firm. Using our neighbours as an example, a new starter at SMP could quite easily find themselves helping an eGaming company protect players from addiction, solving problems for a superyacht crew berthed in Monaco, spotting opportunities for an entrepreneur doing a commercial real estate deal in Dubai, supporting a family trying to plan the wellbeing of future generations, or any one of thousands more tasks for people and assets all over the world.
Sometimes that’s all from right here on the Isle of Man, sometimes it means travelling the world.
It’s also worth knowing that a lot of these different roles can be accessible to people of all backgrounds. If you’re confident that you’re a smart cookie but you’re starting to worry your degree isn’t very relevant (been there!), a CSP is a good prospect: you’ll get to use your brain and they generally aren’t looking for super-specific sets of qualifications to get started. Companies like SMP generally look to train staff into roles they enjoy and put them through professional qualifications, so you can learn and advance on the job rather than breaking the bank trying to fund your own niche studying.
What do I need to look out for?
If you’re starting to think this CSP business sounds like it might be worth a shot, you need to consider carefully which of the more than 100 CSPs on the Island might be a fit for you. One of the big things to look out for right now is size: small CSPs are regularly being acquired by very big CSPs. That means at either end of the spectrum there’s a lot of change to deal with. If you want to be relatively sure who your colleagues will be in six months’ time, you probably want to go for a mid-sized firm like SMP.
You also need to find out as much as you can about the culture. Some CSPs seem to be entirely populated by middle aged white guys, while others are much more diverse in terms of gender, age, and interests and this will have an impact on social events and office banter. The fact SMP brought this up in our chat suggests they’re fairly confident about the diversity in their office.
Other than that, it’s the usual stuff. What would your boss be like? How sociable is the team? How does the benefits package work? What quality is the office coffee machine? How close is the nearest pub? Not all of those are interview appropriate questions, BTW.
So about these SMP guys…?
We’re grateful to SMP for helping us unravel what a CSP is all about. If any of the above has sounded interesting, they might be a good place to start looking for your next (or first) job. You can see all their open roles here.