Earlier this week I had a fantastic opportunity to attend The 18th Annual Corporate Relocation Conference and Exhibition organised by Helen Elliott, Damian Porter and Kim Smart from The International HR Adviser. It was a jam-packed day of seminars dedicated to educating and updating International HR professionals on key developments and current learnings relevant to the industry. The day was also a great opportunity to network and learn about the companies supporting the expat community. I hope you find my notes useful.
Understanding Third Culture Kids (Mary Langford)
Mary talked about the benefits and problems that the experience of international mobility presents for children, because of the career path of their parents. Mary has done a vast amount of research into this particular field, and talked about the disruptive effects to children routines, friendships, schools, linguistic and cultural environments. Often, by the time they are eighteen, they would have moved six to eight times, which makes them excellent change managers, confident communicators/networkers and generally relaxed with the unknown. They also become life-long learners, with 80% of them obtain a bachelor’s degree, and 40% additional degree in a variety of fields. But there are also some pitfalls worth highlighting. They can have problems with mastering one language to perfection, in favour of another, which can cause some issues in their future. They may struggle with their identity – ‘who am I’ and ‘where is my home’ are just some of the questions they often struggle to answer. They tend to foster closer relationships with their families, whom they often call ‘their homes’. Although they mature quicker than their colleagues, they can struggle with maintaining long-lasting relationships – they are great at ‘hellos’ but shy away from ‘goodbyes’. Good tip here is to plan the mobility schedules with accordance to the school terms, which will minimise learning disruptions.
Dual Career and the Importance of Creating a Powerful Network (Denise Donoghue)
There are currently five million expats around the world and the number has been steadily growing over the past decade. Denise talked about the challenges of relocation opportunities facing partners who are equally passionate about their careers. She talked about the stages of cultural adjustment (honeymoon stage, cultural shock, cultural adjustment, adaptation) and the iceberg syndrome (80% of what is happening is hidden under the surface). Educational qualifications (what’s honoured in one country could mean very little in another), language barriers (children stepping up to translate/negotiate for their parents) and feelings of grief and resentment were also addressed. The significant part of Denise’s presentation was dedicated to networking and networking principles, which are essential to succeed in any business (net and working = exchanging information). She also shared some stories on how to overcome the fear of attending networking events on your own (‘I don’t know here anyone, do you?’). She also talked about the specific cultural rules and styles, and their possible challenges to dual career families as they relocate.
Tax Seminar (Roland Sabates)
This seminar covered tax issues that affect expatriates living and working in the UK, and highlighted those that expatriates need to know about in order to keep their finances in check. Topics included Federal and State Tax Return Preparation and Filing, FBAR filing (reports of foreign bank and financial accounts) and bringing expats into IRS compliance. Judging by the amount of questions from the audience, it was very clear that the tax arena is full of ‘greyness’ and ‘loopholes’, and my main take from the session was to seek professional advice before handling any of these matters on my own.
UK Immigration Update & Compliance (Sean Hedgley and Rob Lyon)
Sean and Rob presented an overview of the effects of the recent immigration policy changes and the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations included in their ‘balancing migrant selectivity, investment in skills and impacts on the UK productivity and competitiveness’ report (published on 19th January 2016). These are the highlights from the above report:
- the minimum threshold for the Tier 2 (General and Intra Company Transfer) visas should increase form £20,800 and £24,800 to £23,000 for ‘new entrant’ workers and £30,000 for ‘experienced’ workers
- regular reviews of the shortage occupations for deciding whether to add, retain or remove occupations from the list
- use the Immigration Skills Charge in addition to the salary threshold in a form of an upfront payment at the time of application, as well as introduce a chargeable amount of £1,000 per non-EEA migrant worker per year
- increase the qualifying period for the Intra Company Transfer from 12 to 24 months, and introduce a £200 annual charge per worker from the Australasia region
- applying a Resident Labour Market Test to the third party contracting route
- introducing a limit on the proportion of the Tier 2 migrants in each organisation
- grant priority to public sector jobs
Overall, the MAC Report demonstrates an ever increasing cost for employers who wish to utilise the global workforce, to fill the gap within the UK labour market. The cost will not only be felt financially, but also through an increased scrutiny from the Home Office. It is most likely that the MAC’s recommendation will be enforced from 6th April 2016.
Building A Strategic Vision of Global Mobility for Your Organisation (Beth Warner and Ross Markham)
This session explored the cross-border development of the skills of all mobility leaders having to effectively orchestrate across HR specialities in talent, reward as well as Finance, Accounting, Payroll and Tax, all in support of business strategy. Beth and Ross talked about the HR trends impacting Global Mobility (growing importance of company culture, engagement, leadership and learning & development areas) and Global Mobility strategy (having to accommodate the needs of three generations of workers actively participating in the labour market at the same time: Baby Boomers 50+, Generation X 40 and Generation Y 20-30). They talked about the changing face of work, such as multifaceted roles, and increased significance of a freelance contractors, complete reform of a workspace environment and introduction of the Ebay for people concept, whereby individuals bid to work on various projects advertised by an employer. Over the past few years, a new concept called Mobile Agility has also started to develop, whereby strategies for developing the future of global movement of talent have been worked on. Surprisingly, the huge development of the technology sector has had a little impact on lowering the number of people selected for the mobility programmes so far.
Key Trends In Global Mobility (Andy Piacentini)
Andy Piacentini explored some key emerging themes from research within the RES Forum and their 750 mobility professionals. His presentation was similar to the one delivered by Beth and Ross, with a huge emphasis on much closer look into policies, workforce planning and talent management for the future of the mobility function. Quoting Andy ‘mobility has to evolve or die, there is no other option.’
Documenting Expatriate Reward (Juliet Carp)
Juliet shared tips and traps associated with documenting expatriate reward, with a focus on risk reduction. The discussion covered areas such as retaining discretion, links to policy documents, variable remuneration, documenting high value benefits such as housing, schooling, pension and share plans, and approaches to tax equalisation. There is so much to think about when drafting a mobility contract, but Juliet strongly advised to heavily focus on the high value benefits (such as housing, education, pension) to avoid any nasty surprises in the future.
Mary Langford (LinkedIn)
Denise Donoghue (LinkedIn)
Roland Sabates (LinkedIn)
Sean Hedgley (LinkedIn)
Beth Warner (LinkedIn)
Ross Markham (LinkedIn)
Andy Piacentini (Website)
Juliet Carp (LinkedIn)
ACS International Schools (Website)
American In Britain (Website)
BDO LLP (Website)
Burke Bros Moving Group (Website)
BUPA Cromwell Hospital (Website)
Centre Academy Schools (Website)
Cigna Global Health Benefits (Website)
Cornerstone London Relocation (Website)
Dwight School London (Website)
Ferguson Snell & Associates (Website)
Fox International Moving & Storage Ltd (Website)
Global Tax Network Ltd (Website)
H&R Block Expat Tax Services (Website)
International Community School (Website)
International HR Advisor (Website)
International Schools of London (Website)
Move In Peace Ltd (Website)
Skyline Worldwide (Website)
One Fine Stay (Website)
Smith Stone Walters Ltd (Website)
TASIS The American School in England (Website)
The American Hour (Website)
The Apartment Service (Website)
The Expatriate’s Guide to Living in the UK (Website)
Finally, couple of more recommendations from me:
Connor Broadley (Website)
Maseco Private Wealth (Website)