Emergence of a truly global work force

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Professional Development
Where are
the World’s
Start thinking about Eur
ope, Asia and the Middle East
Dr. Shan Nair, president and co-founder of Nair & Co, Inc.
64 I AFP Exchange September 2008
Copyright ©2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.

The 21st century is redefining how the world’s work is done.
Nothing is truer than the emergence of powerful markets outside
the United States and the fiercely stringent and demanding
regulatory environments that come with them. Corporate
governance has crept into Middle Eastern boardrooms as a critical
enterprise, and compliance experts are suddenly the new poster boys
of recruiters and hiring managers in Europe.
As employers around the world face a talent crunch for accounting
and finance professionals, the time is ripe for the emergence of a truly
global work force—people who are talented and can accomplish
anything, anywhere. We are talking about economies with massive
accounting needs and tax and compliance regulations Byzantine enough
to challenge the Rubik’s cube. As a finance professional, it is time to
start thinking about your opportunities globally.
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Professional Development
accountants also need to have quality experience is in a
relevant financial services area that is particularly sought
after (e.g., funds or underwriting).
According to Nielsen, the UAE’s
Increased emphasis by regulatory authorities on effective
risk management has generated significant demand for
strong economy and booming
specialist risk resources with strong mathematical or audit
competencies that are capable of identifying and managing
employment prospects won it
credit and market risks.
111 points in a 2008 study. The
As the emphasis placed on good corporate governance,
and the penalties imposed for non-compliance, have
United States lags far behind
increased, so have the expected skills and qualifications
required for fulfilling senior compliance roles.
at 83 points. So, prospects
Creating a stable and experienced layer of middle
abroad are booming compared to
management with approximately five to seven years of
relevant financial services experience is one of the biggest
opportunities at home.
challenges for top executives today. In some financial
services sectors, particularly funds servicing, factors such
as fewer managers with previous funds experience, high
A global view
attrition levels, and the explosive growth in a relatively new
A significant impact of J-SOX, the Japanese corporate
sector have made this more difficult to achieve. Local staff
governance reform similar to Sarbanes-Oxley in the United
are being promoted into people- and process-management
States, has created a significant requirement for internal
roles, without necessarily having received the appropriate
audit professionals in Japan. Shortages across the spectrum
training or experience of the “softer management skills”
of financial professionals exist throughout the Middle East
needed to operate effectively. There is an increased need for
and Europe especially in Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, and the
operationally experienced middle management.
Czech Republic, where internationally experienced financial
The skill set for project/change management is emerging
professionals are a precious commodity.
as an increasingly vital competency in ensuring efficient
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is among the top five
management of resources. The international financial
nations for consumer confidence, according to research
services industry is very dynamic and is constantly adapting
firm The Nielsen Company. The UAE’s strong economy
to customer/market demands, regulatory provisions, and
and booming employment prospects won it 111 points in
technological developments. This constant pace of change
a 2008 study. The United States (US) lags far behind at 83
is resulting in a stream of discrete implementation projects.
points. One of the UAE’s most popular cities, Dubai, is one
Managers now require skills that combine knowledge of
of the fastest-growing, flashiest, and most cosmopolitan
project-management principles with detailed product and
cities in the world.
process understanding.
Wall Street might be slumping, but U.S. companies
are establishing sophisticated manufacturing and
What do headhunters look for?
service operations in the developing world. They need
Who You Know
skilled finance professionals. The greater the extent of
Your Reputation
international knowledge and experience, the greater the
Actual Performance
value a candidate has for them.
The average American often doesn’t realize that by
simply making oneself fully conversant with international
standards and practices and compliance requirements,
candidates can demand high-paying jobs and advance their
careers in virtually any market.
The market needs you
There are accountants, and there are “good accountants.”
Accountancy qualifications are viewed very favorably
by various industry sectors as accountants offer a high
degree of flexibility in the roles they can perform across
banking, investment management, and insurance. Where
66 I AFP Exchange September 2008
Copyright ©2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.

The demand for knowledge of Enterprise Resource
for someone, they are likely to recommend a friendly
Planning (ERP) systems is notable across the countries
individual whom they are willing to work with.
surveyed, especially in the Netherlands, indicating the need
Court your clients. Headhunters might or might not
for strong information technology skills among accounting
speak to clients when trying to compile a generic shortlist
and finance executives.
of candidates. However, they are almost certain to talk
to them when recommending a particular candidate, as
Brand yourself
will a prospective employer if they are close to hiring you.
There are a host of international Web sites providing
Clients’ recommendations are likely to count for a lot.
a continuous source of available opportunities. A simple
A statistic I once heard in a training session horrified me
search will reveal a myriad of positions. But there is, of
so much that it’s stuck with me for years—that achievement
course, also the traditional networking, which remains the
is 60% who you know, 30% what those who know you
most effective technique to apply.
think of you, and only 10% your actual performance.
If you want to get yourself known to the right
If there is a grain of truth at all in this, it highlights the
headhunters, you’ll need to ensure that you’re a well
importance of networking and self-marketing if you want
known name in your sector. There are a few shortcuts
your career.
to achieving this.
Know the limitations
The biggest limitations for international assignments are
the immigration requirements of the specific country. For
example, in the UK, professionals will be required to meet
We are talking about economies
the criteria of the newly established points system, which
requires the attaining of a minimum points rating based
with massive accounting
on criteria like being under the age of 32, educational
needs and tax and compliance
qualifications, a UK degree-level or professional-level
qualification, previous earnings, and UK work experience.
regulations Byzantine enough
program.htm]. Alternatively, professionals may gain entry
to challenge the Rubik’s cube.
through the route of work permits acquired by prospective
employers. This is a rigorous and lengthy process that can
As a finance professional, it is
take over 16 weeks.
time to start thinking about your
Other European countries such as Spain, Germany, and
the Netherlands have equally rigorous processes. Japan,
opportunities globally.
however, is pleasantly less painstaking as the demand for
skills far outstrips supply.
Lastly, do not assume that the submission of a resume
implies that a recruiter is automatically viewing you as
Get on the conference circuit. When you attend a
a good prospect. Foreign passports and immigration
conference, talk to as many people as possible. Networking
requirements are hard work. Persevere to make personal
at the coffee break can be more important than actually
contact with the employer to make your case.
listening to the speeches. Chat with the organizers, and let
them know who you are and what you do—there might be
Information on the author:
an opportunity for you to be a speaker at their next event.
Get involved in industry-award or best-practice events.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you win or not. Yes,
Want to qualify to work in the UK?
winning will raise your profile, but the simple fact of your
Visit this site for more information: www.workpermit.com/
involvement will get your name out into the marketplace.
Volunteer to help journalists with surveys and
information—they’ll come back to you for quotations. Get
interviewed for articles. As long as you don’t make a fool of
Nair & Co. is currently hiring financial professionals in
yourself, any publicity is good publicity.
UK. We are increasing our staff by 50% over the next 12
Get to know your competitors—this is easy to do
months, so we are doing a lot of recruiting. If you are inter-
at client or industry events. Without revealing too
ested in a position, forward a resume to us at:
many secrets, be nice to them. If their firm is looking
[email protected]
www.AFPonline.org AFP Exchange I 67
Copyright ©2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.