MOOC tests for agents mooted in HMRC reboot | AccountingWEB

MOOC tests for agents mooted in HMRC reboot


HMRC has appointed American marketing guru Melissa Ledgerman to lead an overhaul of its communications and brand strategy.

As part of the new strategy, online services for taxpayers and advisers will be greatly enhanced. But access to these new digital services will be linked to a series of massively open online courses (MOOCs) relating to tax requirements and responsibilities.

Depending on their success at passing relevant modules and client compilance levels, advisers will be entitled to varying levels of access to HMRC’s online portal.

Ledgerman is renowned in Silicon Valley marketing circles as a strategic lightning rod. Her 2012 book ‘Touching the Void: A Brand Adventure’ introduced the concept of “brand shock” and fuelled an ongoing debate about the relevance of brand positioning in high-growth technology environments.

Remuneration for her position as head of values at the tax department is yet to be disclosed, but may attract controversy from taxpayers, politicians, unions and accountants who argue the money would be better spent on frontline initiatives to serve the public.

But Ledgerman was unapologetic. “HMRC is an iconic global brand, recognised for its innovation and entrepreneurial approach to tax administration. I plan to take that recognition to a new level by empowering our team to new heights of excellence,” she said in an exclusive interview with

“My role will involve positively influencing market perceptions – in terms of our talent, our customers and the marketplace occupied by commercial stakeholders.”

The government’s digital by default strategy has brought the tax department directly into people’s offices and homes, she explained.

“These touchpoints build brand awareness at every node. We’re going to assemble a whole bunch of interactive feedback loops to reinforce positive behaviours, within and beyond the organisational perimeter.”

In the presentation that convinced the HMRC board of commissioners to embark on such a high-profile appointment, Ledgerman set out a five-point plan to refocus the department’s lines of tax into five units - or “pillars” - called Care, Recovery, Focus, Interactive, and Interface.

Other initiatives put forward under Ledgerman’s plans include:

  • Board members including John Whiting and Ian Barlow put through an executive development and bonding weekend in Wales. “It was invigorating,” the OTS tax policy director told AccountingWEB about his bog-snorkling initiation. “Being up to your neck in muck for three hours gives you a new perspective on the challenge of simplifying the tax system.”

  • Customer care courses conducted by facilitators from McDonald’s Hamburger University; HMRC staff will gain competency badges to signify their qualification across different disciplines.

  • Regular compliance with filing requirements and deadlines will entitle taxpayers to a “loyalty bonus” discount on their liabilities.

Oh deary me!    3 thanks

ThornyIssues | | Permalink

“My role will involve positively influencing market perceptions – in terms of our talent, our customers and the marketplace occupied by commercial stakeholders.”


Polishing a turd?

DMGbus's picture

April fool?    6 thanks

DMGbus | | Permalink

This article has the flavour of being an April fool!


johnjenkins's picture

So we have sold    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

"Agent Strategy" to the yanks. Does her job start before she sorts out North Korea and the Ukraine?

@Mark Lee - looks like they've gone over your head on this one.

Seriously though, I reckon any one of us posters could do a better job than anyone else. The reason is simple. WE know what's wrong with HMRC and WE know how to put it right.

APRIL FOOL!    2 thanks

norstar | | Permalink

Surely. Please?

johnjenkins's picture

Blue Peter Badges

johnjenkins | | Permalink

and loyalty bonuses. Give me greenshield stamps any day.

The more I think and read about this the more pathetic it becomes. Bit like listening to Cleggy.

johnjenkins's picture

Oh Shit    8 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

and I fell for it hook line and sinker. Well done AW.

stepurhan's picture

So hard to tell these days    2 thanks

stepurhan | | Permalink

I too hope that this is an April Fool.

The trouble is, it sounds like the sort of self-deluded nonsense spouted by HMRC mouthpieces on a regular basis of late. If someone at HMRC can describe sending non-compliance notices to fully compliant as not targeting as sharply as they would like, then the above article is eerily plausible.

Equally describing McDonalds as "a great quality product that is loved around the world as a symbol of freedom and self-empowerment" (From the Hamburger University link) could be satire or genuine American marketing guff.

puzzel's picture

Loyalty Bonus

puzzel | | Permalink

How many do we need to collect for a get out of jail free?

McDonald's Hamburger University !    1 thanks

Katy D | | Permalink

 ....really ?

robertlovell's picture

Hamburger University

robertlovell | | Permalink

April Fool    1 thanks

sanone | | Permalink

First thought why am I not surprised, then read a bit more and thought "it was only a matter of time", finally "not even they would....."
But then again they do insist on calling tax payers "customers" and then treating their customers like criminals, liars and cheats. Not even McD's have such a low regard for their customers...


johnjenkins's picture

You've only    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

got till 12 midday AW to put me out of my misery.

Rachael_Power's picture

Looks like

Rachael_Power | | Permalink

She's also been featured on MyCustomer and Hmrcisshite

Love it!    2 thanks

blueskies | | Permalink

Happy April Fools day....  Very well thought out and written; hope it goes viral.

rockallj's picture

HMRC are an "iconic global    1 thanks

rockallj | | Permalink

HMRC are an "iconic global brand" ! Ha ha April fool!

Great joke    1 thanks

mgh | | Permalink

April Fool or really happening, it will make no difference.

raybackler's picture

Johnny No Stars

raybackler | | Permalink

How will we know how many stars the HMRC person in the call centres have on their badges?  The answer will probably be none anyway!

Is that really a serious quote?!!

Kazmc | | Permalink

“Being up to your neck in muck for three hours gives you a new perspective on the challenge of simplifying the tax system.”

A serious quote?!!    2 thanks

John Whiting | | Permalink

Kazmc PM | Tue, 01/04/2014 - 13:41 | Permalink

“Being up to your neck in muck for three hours gives you a new perspective on the challenge of simplifying the tax system.”


Just to reassure you, it was't a real/serious quote, though like all the best April Fools, now you come to mention it.....

One of the best since San Serife    1 thanks

Exector | | Permalink

Well done Aweb an absolute corker!Hope it goes global- deserves the recognition. Tho scary how many of us in the profession could believe it was happening!

Wrong Appointment

nigel adkins | | Permalink

Shouldn't HMRC be appointing a guru to sort out their appalling response time to paper 64-8 forms, reallocating incorrectly allocated payments, the majority of telephone calls and almost every aspect of their service instead of some interfering, overpaid executive who has no idea what the professionals in this country have to put up with on a daily basis.  


BKD | | Permalink


johnjenkins's picture

I wonder how many

johnjenkins | | Permalink

HMRC operatives believed it too?

Great stuff! Had me fooled    1 thanks

Southwestbeancounter | | Permalink

Great stuff! Had me fooled until I read that her surname was Ledgerman - seemed too coincidental! Well Done!

stepurhan's picture

The unanswered question

stepurhan | | Permalink

Since the picture would appear to be a stock photo, who is the woman represented as Melissa Ledgerman?