Planning for Employment Overseas

Planning for Employment Overseas

Planning for Employment Overseas

There are an increasing number of companies willing to consider hiring from outside their country and an ever-increasing number of Actuaries actively looking to move from one country to another.

Below are some ‘rules’ that usually apply which can provide guidance to aspiring international career movers: A company will always look locally first to fill its vacant positions. An overseas candidate needs to have a serious and genuine reason for seeking employment in a particular country. Candidates need to have a specific or scarce skill set to be considered. Generous expat financial packages are a thing of the past. Developing economies do not necessarily pay above local salaries to get overseas expertise. Acquiring a work visa for many countries has become more difficult.

 

The first step is to ask yourself: Where in the world do I want to go? Why? And when? Once the answers to these questions are determined, begin considering the following in relation to where you want to go:

  • What is the current and future demand for my skills?
  • What is the supply profile? Who am I competing against?
  • What are the current market trends that might influence demand for my skills?
  • How can I differentiate myself to be an attractive candidate?
  • What do I need to do to make this happen?

Let’s have a look at each of these in more detail, and give some specific examples to help guide you.

Since relocating to another country is a major investment for both you and a potential employer, you both need to have a high degree of comfort that you will be happy and able to remain there for a significant amount of time. What is considered an acceptable time varies by country, sometimes culture, and often by immigration laws. For example, Bermudian employers are accustomed to having people stay for only two or three years. In other countries, potential employers will be keen to know that you plan on relocating or repatriating for good. In many developed markets, countries will only grant a work visa for a short amount of time, usually from three to six years.

Your interest in a location needs to make sense to a prospective employer. Commonly accepted reasons include returning to historical family roots, having visited several times and really understanding the culture, wife/ husband/partner is being relocated or has close family there. This is not to say that those with a good helping of genuine wanderlust are not taken seriously, but be prepared to convincingly demonstrate your commitment. Ways to do this could be as simple as getting on a plane and appearing on their doorstep in your own time and at your own expense.

Although you can’t interview for a job, say, three years in advance, you can start talking to people, learn about their business practices and make connections within the marketplace. Once you have decided the time is right, plan on the search taking at least five to six months. There is a considerable difference in the structure and development of insurance markets around the world, which in turn heavily influences the demand for Actuaries and specific Actuarial skills.

For example, if you are an expert at pricing motor vehicle insurance, you are unlikely to find a huge demand for your services in a country which has tariffs. However, if you know that the tariff is going to be removed, and it is therefore likely that many insurers are going to try and compete for that business and haven’t developed the expertise in-house, then it is likely you will find an increase in the demand for those skills.

In more established markets, increased market competition and regulatory requirements and a strong focus on developing more robust risk management techniques, particularly following the GFC, has led to an increase in the demand for the Actuarial skill set to accommodate the need for complex analysis.

In emerging markets, what type of growth has been estimated, for what products, and how does that growth compare to the estimated domestic growth of the Actuarial profession? There is considerable and ongoing discussion about trends in emerging and growing markets, for example in China and India. However, it is important to read behind the headlines in the context of Actuarial work and to remember that just because a market has a demand for insurance products and new insurers seem to be establishing themselves every week, this does not immediately translate in to a massive need for overseas Actuaries. Also remember that a region is not just the sum of its parts. Each individual country exhibits a different structure. For example, Hong Kong is heavily dominated by the regional offices of Life companies while Singapore has more P&C reinsurers.

Engaging or partnering with a good international specialist recruitment company early in this process can provide you with updates of the trends in the marketplace as well as with contacts in the field. As the search process and the move itself will be full of uncertainty, stress and probably some disappointment along the way, it is important to remember why you began the search in the first place. Remember that the opportunity to work, live and enjoy another culture is one of the most life-enhancing and broadening activities one can do.

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