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.