Comment: When you should recruit from overseas

Comment: When you should recruit from overseas

Comment:  When you should recruit from overseas The insurance industry is no stranger to global talent exchange, but when should you hire from abroad? Jonathan Attwood offers his opinion.

The old adage says the three most stressful things in life are moving house, changing job and having children – but moving country is a process that can dwarf all three.

The reasons for overseas professionals relocating to Australia are clear; the climate, employment opportunities and work-life balance are all touted by commentators as major drawcards. In addition, there has also been a demand for overseas candidates in the Australian Insurance market, especially those from London, Singapore, Chicago and New York.

The most prominent hires are senior management and strategic roles. Often, the search for a CEO or managing director can become an International one, where an appointment has an effect on market confidence and share price.
For international brokers and insurers, the option to relocate a senior executive from an overseas office can be appealing. It can bring experience, knowledge and gravitas along with appreciation, pride and passion towards an organisation’s culture and USPs. Appointing individuals with a track record of delivering strong results in competitive markets, or even just the publicity of hiring a known name can also provide stimulus for businesses to look for senior solutions overseas. 

The need for specialist skillsets also encourages employers to look further afield. This can include those with experience managing particular products – such as cyber insurance – or those managing particular portfolio types, such as corporate and multinational businesses or affinity partnerships geared towards innovative distribution channels. 

Given the size of respective Insurance markets overseas, many organisations can have extensive training programs for new recruits with rotations managing sizeable clients, learning products and regulatory work all under the guidance of senior executives. While these organisations do not want to lose individuals in whom such investment has been made, it does provide a valuable talent pool for business’ struggling to find the right calibre of professionals.

Once an employer has made the decision to recruit from overseas, there can be a number of challenges involved in the process. First, the recruitment process can be lengthy, depending on backlogs and the need for the potential hire to tie up their lives at home before relocating.

Second, a need must be articulated to the relevant immigration authorities and sponsors are limited to how many skilled migrants they can employ. The profession or occupation needs to be considered skilled and in need. The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List currently includes insurance broker, insurance investigator, insurance loss adjuster, insurance agent, actuary and insurance risk surveyor as professions eligible for sponsorship. It does not, however, include underwriter, meaning it could prove more challenging to relocate an underwriter from overseas. 

The costs can also mount up. Current charges stand at $1,035 for 457 Visa applications, with an additional $700 per secondary applicant over 18 years of age and $260 for those under 18. The legal costs of using an immigration lawyer can reach $4,500 and a relocation package may need to be offered to help with costs of moving. This can include flights, temporary accommodation and the transport of belongings. 

Therefore, the cost of hiring a specialist with a small family could easily cost between $13,000 and $15,000. In addition, should the hire not work out and the Visa holder need to leave, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide financial aid in returning the individual and their family home. 

It is therefore imperative that the employer makes the right decision when hiring from overseas, as it could be a costly exercise if it doesn’t work out. Still, if you can employ the right person, with the right skills, then the benefit to your business could easily outweigh the initial costs.

Jonathan Attwood is manager of Charterhouse Partnership’s insurance practice.

  • Damian Harrison - BJS Insurance 12/02/2014 10:41:54 AM
    There are very few articles which have ever interested me to make a comment, but as someone who has been in this type of position, it definitely struck a chord.

    As Jonathan pointed out, changing jobs and moving house can cause issues for anyone, but if you were doing both of those and at the same time moving country, the stress could become too much for most people.

    My family originally applied for a permanent visa around 6 years ago, however insurance brokers were not towards the top of the most important occupations (unlike hairdressers!). Even though I had relevant UK insurance qualifications, I decided to obtain my Tier 1, and then obtained two further Australia diplomas from overseas. Unfortunately because of ongoing changes to the visa system, had we remained in that initial queue, we would likely still be in the UK with no chance of ever moving.

    I made the decision in 2009 to approach prospective employers with my CV, and surprisingly one of them, BJS Insurance Brokers, contacted me the following day. What was even more unbelievable was that it was the MD himself who wanted to chat.

    They arranged to fly me out to a Steadfast conference in order to meet their senior staff who were in attendance, and subsequently they started to put in motion arranging for an employer sponsored visa. Even then, the entire process still took around 18 months to finalise, but they remained patient. I have no idea of the total costs which were incurred, but I suspect the figures quoted above would be the minimum.

    I am sure that directors and HR personnel come across CV’s every day from applicants who are overseas, and whilst I won’t disagree that the majority of those deserve nothing more than shredding, all I will say is don’t rule everyone out as there may be a worthwhile applicant in there.

    If a company has invested so much time, effort and cost into bringing a candidate from overseas, there is a good chance that their new employee will try over and above to succeed, and will also show a high level of loyalty.

    I don’t for one minute think I have anything better which I can offer than other brokers over here, possibly just a different perspective on certain things. But one thing is for sure, namely that had it not been for a broker willing to give me a shot I would not be here now.
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