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Copyright Š 2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP).

All Rights Reserved.

This electronic document is designed to provide authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is not intended to offer accounting, legal or other professional advice. If accounting, legal, or other professional advice is required, or if expert assistance is needed, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Reprinted from AFP Exchange, 2008.

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Š 2008 by Association for Financial Professionals (AFP). All rights reserved.


Professional Development

Where are the World’s

CFO Jobs? Start thinking about Europe, Asia and the Middle East Dr. Shan Nair, president and co-founder of Nair & Co, Inc.

64 I AFP Exchange September 2008 Copyright Š2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.


T

he 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.

www.AFPonline.org AFP Exchange I 65 Copyright ©2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.


Professional Development

According to Nielsen, the UAE’s strong economy and booming employment prospects won it 111 points in a 2008 study. The United States lags far behind at 83 points. So, prospects abroad are booming compared to opportunities at home. A global view A significant impact of J-SOX, the Japanese corporate governance reform similar to Sarbanes-Oxley in the United States, has created a significant requirement for internal audit professionals in Japan. Shortages across the spectrum of financial professionals exist throughout the Middle East and Europe especially in Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, and the Czech Republic, where internationally experienced financial professionals are a precious commodity. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is among the top five nations for consumer confidence, according to research firm The Nielsen Company. The UAE’s strong economy and booming employment prospects won it 111 points in a 2008 study. The United States (US) lags far behind at 83 points. One of the UAE’s most popular cities, Dubai, is one of the fastest-growing, flashiest, and most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Wall Street might be slumping, but U.S. companies are establishing sophisticated manufacturing and service operations in the developing world. They need skilled finance professionals. The greater the extent of international knowledge and experience, the greater the 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

accountants also need to have quality experience is in a relevant financial services area that is particularly sought after (e.g., funds or underwriting). Increased emphasis by regulatory authorities on effective risk management has generated significant demand for specialist risk resources with strong mathematical or audit competencies that are capable of identifying and managing credit and market risks. As the emphasis placed on good corporate governance, and the penalties imposed for non-compliance, have increased, so have the expected skills and qualifications required for fulfilling senior compliance roles. Creating a stable and experienced layer of middle management with approximately five to seven years of relevant financial services experience is one of the biggest challenges for top executives today. In some financial services sectors, particularly funds servicing, factors such as fewer managers with previous funds experience, high attrition levels, and the explosive growth in a relatively new sector have made this more difficult to achieve. Local staff are being promoted into people- and process-management roles, without necessarily having received the appropriate training or experience of the “softer management skills” needed to operate effectively. There is an increased need for operationally experienced middle management. The skill set for project/change management is emerging as an increasingly vital competency in ensuring efficient management of resources. The international financial services industry is very dynamic and is constantly adapting to customer/market demands, regulatory provisions, and technological developments. This constant pace of change is resulting in a stream of discrete implementation projects. Managers now require skills that combine knowledge of project-management principles with detailed product and process understanding. What do headhunters look for? Who You Know Your Reputation Actual Performance

10%

30% 60%

66 I AFP Exchange September 2008 Copyright ©2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.

60% 30% 10%


The demand for knowledge of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems is notable across the countries surveyed, especially in the Netherlands, indicating the need for strong information technology skills among accounting and finance executives. Brand yourself There are a host of international Web sites providing a continuous source of available opportunities. A simple search will reveal a myriad of positions. But there is, of course, also the traditional networking, which remains the most effective technique to apply. If you want to get yourself known to the right headhunters, you’ll need to ensure that you’re a well known name in your sector. There are a few shortcuts to achieving this.

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.

Get on the conference circuit. When you attend a conference, talk to as many people as possible. Networking at the coffee break can be more important than actually listening to the speeches. Chat with the organizers, and let them know who you are and what you do—there might be 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, winning will raise your profile, but the simple fact of your 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 yourself, any publicity is good publicity. Get to know your competitors—this is easy to do at client or industry events. Without revealing too many secrets, be nice to them. If their firm is looking

for someone, they are likely to recommend a friendly individual whom they are willing to work with. Court your clients. Headhunters might or might not speak to clients when trying to compile a generic shortlist of candidates. However, they are almost certain to talk to them when recommending a particular candidate, as will a prospective employer if they are close to hiring you. Clients’ recommendations are likely to count for a lot. A statistic I once heard in a training session horrified me so much that it’s stuck with me for years—that achievement is 60% who you know, 30% what those who know you think of you, and only 10% your actual performance. If there is a grain of truth at all in this, it highlights the importance of networking and self-marketing if you want your career. 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 the criteria of the newly established points system, which requires the attaining of a minimum points rating based on criteria like being under the age of 32, educational qualifications, a UK degree-level or professional-level qualification, previous earnings, and UK work experience. [www.workpermit.com/uk/highly_skilled_migrant_ program.htm]. Alternatively, professionals may gain entry through the route of work permits acquired by prospective employers. This is a rigorous and lengthy process that can take over 16 weeks. Other European countries such as Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands have equally rigorous processes. Japan, 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 a good prospect. Foreign passports and immigration requirements are hard work. Persevere to make personal contact with the employer to make your case. Information on the author:

http://www.nair-co.com/presspage.htm Want to qualify to work in the UK?

Visit this site for more information: www.workpermit.com/ uk/highly_skilled_migrant_program.htm NOTE:

Nair & Co. is currently hiring financial professionals in UK. We are increasing our staff by 50% over the next 12 months, so we are doing a lot of recruiting. If you are interested in a position, forward a resume to us at: careers@nair-co.com.

www.AFPonline.org AFP Exchange I 67 Copyright ©2008 by the Association for Financial Professionals. All rights reserved in all countries.


Emergence of a truly global work force