Australia: land of false promise?

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Australia hasn't lived up to its promise for ANZ's ex-group managing director, Steve Targett. How common is it for immigrant bankers to come unstuck?

In the case of Targett, the stakes are high and getting higher. Last month, he upped his damages claim from AU$2.1m to a hefty AU$57m, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review.

Targett, a former banker with Lloyds TSB, claims he left his well-paid job in London after some high-profile members of ANZ's board suggested he'd be a frontrunner for the CEO's position. The job eventually went to ex-HSBC operative Mike Smith.

As the case is still to play itself out in the courts, a spokesman for ANZ was reticent when it came to discussing it. However, he said: "ANZ doesn't believe [Targett's] claims have any substance," and the bank "will be defending them vigorously".

Mary Grant, principal consultant in recruitment firm Hudson's banking and finance division, says the onus is on bankers to do plenty of research before shifting to Australia.

"Ask questions about the size and complexity of the deals you'll work on, and what the role involves. Also ask the person hiring you whether they had overseas experience. They'll know what you'll go through as an expat."

And if you do find yourself in a role that underwhelms? Most headhunters caution against lodging an official complaint. "A lot of people have been in similar situations," says Caan Krsztew-Ivanow, a senior search consultant at Melbourne-based financial services specialist Graeme V. Jones & Associates. "The best scenario often involves moving on and starting a new career."

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