Not so long ago ‘international experience’ just meant heading to the UK for two or three years, but relocation trends are now becoming more complex for Australian financial professionals. Although London remains an important employment hub, job growth in Asia means a rising number of Aussies are applying for roles in Hong Kong and Singapore.
“Asian financial centres are definitely increasing in popularity due to more opportunities, in addition to both US and European markets not faring as well in comparison,” says Christina Ng, manager, financial services, Robert Walters.
Chris Mead, general manager of Hays in Singapore says his firm is seeing more Australians moving to Singapore than London. “The reasons are four fold: The lack of opportunities in the UK; the prevalence of numerous high profile roles in Singapore; the proximity of Singapore to Australia; and the heavily reduced tax rate in Singapore compared with London.”
Asia’s attractions are also affecting London-based Australians. “A number of Australian professionals currently working in the UK, who would have traditionally moved straight back to Australia after their stint in London, are now seeking opportunities in Asia for a few years prior to returning home,” says Dominic Bareham, manager, accounting and finance, Morgan McKinley.
And experience in a large financial centre like London will generally stand you in good stead if you then want to move to Asia. Mead says: “It’s definitely an advantage. The majority of Australian candidates who secure roles in Singapore have worked in the larger markets, which has allowed them to gain exposure to the more complex and structured financial products that are far less prevalent in Australia.”
Guy Day, chief executive, Ambition, says global markets experience is always “nice to have” within the banking sector because it demonstrates an ability to adapt to new countries and environments. “But well qualified candidates at the appropriate level with Australia-only experience will certainly be considered.”
A recruiter, who asked not to be named, says he has placed people from Australia straight into Singapore-based roles at firms such as HSBC and Standard Chartered.
However, for junior professionals – especially chartered accountants and operations staff doing contract work – a stint in London remains the simplest way of gaining overseas work experience, says Day. “The ease with which Australians can obtain visas to work in the UK in contract finance positions (and the relative difficulty in Asia) means London is still a well trodden path for less senior people.”