Overseas moves need to be carefully timed

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With strong hiring conditions internationally, now may appear a good time for Australian finance professionals to land a job offshore. But recruiters say the advisability of such a move is a question of timing.

Vincent Bailey, from search firm Bailey Executive, says people should be looking to move offshore in their mid to late-twenties and then return in their early thirties. Bailey says investment bankers in particular can benefit from increased deal flow while overseas, but need to return in order to build up their client base.

With the experience behind them, returning Australians need to be realistic when it comes to salary expectations. Although salary and bonuses will be competitive, returning to Australia is likely to be inspired by lifestyle issues rather than money, Bailey believes.

In a recent interview with The Australian Financial Review, Mark Joiner, chief financial officer and head of strategy, mergers and acquisitions for global wealth management at Citigroup, said most Australian finance jobs are remote from the international cutting edge: "The networks you develop in the industry are so much richer if you play in the bigger pools for a while. I now know my way around Wall Street quite well, for example. But the issue for people based abroad is finding a suitable re-entry point, and the later you leave it, the harder it becomes."

Joiner, who is British but has an Australian wife, left the country eight years ago, but said he'd return for the right opportunity.

The good news is there are plenty of examples of Australian bankers who've spent time offshore before returning home. Merrill Lynch, for example, recently transferred John Laws from New York to Sydney to head its nascent Australian prime brokerage business. Similarly, Brad Orgill, the Australian chairman and chief executive for UBS in Australasia has spent time in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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