Global mobility conference in London

Apr 14 | 2016

The annual Corporate Relocation Conference & Exhibition took place in February at the Hotel Russell in Bloomsbury London with attendance from relocation specialists eager to learn about the latest industry developments, meet suppliers and get together to swap ideas.

The event was organised, as usual, by Helen Elliott Everson, Founder & CEO of American in Britain magazine, International HR Adviser and The Expatriate's Guide to Living in the UK. 

The seminar programme included a total of eight presentations all aimed at relocation professionals.  

Understanding Third Country Kids   

This was presented by Mary Langford, Director of Admissions for Dwight London School.  She focussed on the advantages and disadvantages for children whose routines, friendships, schools and linguistic and cultural environments were disrupted because of the career paths of their parents.    

Mary, who had experienced life as a Third Country Kid from the age of two, offered insights into children in that position and discussed strategies that would help them and their families embrace the exciting and positive life changing advantages that can be gained while growing up abroad.  

Photo:  Mary Langford  

The importance of creating a powerful network 

Denise Donoghue from FOCUS, an organisation that supports expatriate families brought to the UK by multinationals, explained the importance of networking for people living as expatriates.   

She said that the process of relocating starts as an adventure then quickly turns into a culture shock; this leads on to anxiety and loneliness; followed by a period of adjustment and adaptation.  Mary was able to offer useful tips about successfully attending networking meetings, developing a memorable elevator pitch, and managing your network contacts to achieve the best possible result. 

Photo:  Denise Donoghue  

Tax Seminar  

Roland Sabates a tax attorney and Director of Operations for H&R Block’s Expat Tax Services presented his seminar covering tax issues for expatriates living abroad.  He specialises in resolving international tax problems for individuals and small business owners and is seminar covered such knotty subjects as foreign information reporting, IRS voluntary disclosure programmes and US taxation of foreign trusts.   

At first sight it appeared to be a little in depth for many of the audience but, judging by the number of people attending and the enthusiasm of the questioning after the presentation, Roland had got his presentation spot on.  

Photo: Roland Sabates 

UK Immigration Update & Compliance  

Sean Hedgley, Co-Head of UK Immigration and UK Consultant Rob Lyon from management consultants Fergusson Snell presented an overview of recent policy changes in UK immigration and discussed the results of a recent survey on new hire migration and skilled labour shortages. They also looked at the possibility of a skills levy on sponsoring organisations and the effects of increased costs in bringing migrant workers to the UK.  They also covered compliance and due diligence in running an efficient corporate immigration programme in today’s competitive market.  

Photo: Sean Hedgley  

Building a strategic vision of global mobility  

Beth Warner and Ross Markham from Deloitte LLP discussed the strategic side of global mobility.  However, Beth said that it was important for a business to understand what it needs from its global mobility programme before deciding to become more strategic.  “If you just need a traditional function, that’s fine,” she said. “You could spend a lot of money, and that’s not required.”  

One conclusion presented was that cultural engagement is becoming more important for companies rather than simply the satisfying of a critical business need.  Different generations need and expect different things from global mobility with cultural awareness and understanding being of increased importance.  The workplace itself is becoming less important.  Anecdotally, Simon Mason from Graebel who was in the audience, gave an example of a contact of his who paid someone in China to do his job for him while he relaxed on the golf course. Nice work if you can get it.   

Beth and Ross said that China and India will be the dominant sources of talent by 2020.  

Photos: Beth Warner and Ross Markham  

Key trends in global mobility   

Andy Piacentini from the RES Forum, a forum for in-house mobility professionals, gave a presentation entitled ’Evolve or die’. This was not the first time this type of subject has been touched on at the Hotel Russell conference.  Andy explained that his organisation had conducted a survey of around 100 global mobility professionals to ask about their role and how they see it evolving over time.    

The survey said that the majority see their roles as experts on due diligence and the use of their knowledge to provide strategic advice. The management of talent and the role as an expert of people effectiveness they saw as less important.  So did their senior managers.  However, Andy explained that if any part of the mobility professional’s  job could be automated, it is the due diligence and the resulting strategic advice functions.  His implication was that global mobility roles need to evolve or they will be replaced by automation.  

Photo:  Andy Piacentini 

Documenting expatriate reward 

Juliet Carp is an employment law specialist at Dorsey & Whitney (Europe) LLP and the author of ‘Drafting Employment Documents for Expatriates’.  She looked at the potential pitfalls of documenting expatriate reward with a special focus on risk reduction, retaining discretion, remuneration, and the documentation of benefits such as schooling, housing, etc.  

This is just a very short summary of the presentations.  All were excellent and packed with information for anyone working in a global mobility environment.  It is, however, impossible to accurately reflect all the ideas and advice in these pages.  Anyone wanting to know more should put a note in their diary to attend next year. 

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