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Magazine of Worldwide ERC 速

March 2010

The Rising Bar

for China Expatriates

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MARCH 2010 Global Workforce Summit®: Focus on Asia-Pacific March 10-11 Hong Kong ™

GMS Training and Certification March 6, 8-9 Hong Kong March 16-18 White Plains, NY

MOBILITY • Vol. 31 No. 3 • March 2010

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE President MICHAEL (MIKE) C. WASHBOURN, SCRP, GMS, Pfizer Inc., Peapack, NJ Vice President SUSAN SCHNEIDER, SCRP, GMS, Plus Relocation Services, Inc., Minneapolis, MN Secretary/Treasurer PAMELA (PAM) J. O’CONNOR, SCRP, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, Chicago, IL Chairman, Board of Directors AL BLUMENBERG, SCRP, NEI Global Relocation, Omaha, NE


MAY 2010

CORI L. BEAUDET, SCRP, GMS, SC Johnson—A Family Company, Racine, WI

National Relocation Conference May 19-21 Orlando, FL

JAY K. DELICH, SCRP, SRA, IFA, Arizona Appraisal Team, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ

GMS Training and Certification May 17-19 Orlando, FL

OCTOBER 2010 Global Workforce Symposium October 27-29 Seattle, WA GMS Training and Certification October 25-27 Seattle, WA

MAY 2011 National Relocation Conference May 18-20 Las Vegas, NV

LISA CARAVELLA, CRP, Bank of America, Plano, TX

MARIO FERRARO, International SOS Pte Ltd., SINGAPORE MARK GIORGINI, GMS, China Vanke Co. Ltd., Shenzhen, CHINA WILLIAM (BILL) GRAEBEL, GMS, Graebel Relocation Services Worldwide, Aurora, CO JOHNNY H. HAINES, CRP, GMS, Deloitte, Hermitage, TN LARS LYKKE IVERSEN, Santa Fe Relocation Services, Hong Kong, CHINA CHRISTOPHER (CHRIS) JAMES, Bechtel Corporation, Phoenix, AZ JO LAY, SCRP, GMS, Coldwell Banker Central Region Relocation, Chicago, IL EARL LEE, Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Scottsdale, AZ STEPHEN C. MCGARRY, SCRP, WPP, New York, NY SANTRUPT MISRA, PH.D., Aditya Birla Management Corporation Ltd., Mumbai, INDIA JOY MORRISON, CRP, GMS, PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, NY STEVEN A. NORD, UPS, Atlanta, GA IAN PAYNE, GMS, Cartus, London, UNITED KINGDOM JOHN PFEIFFER, GMS, Mustang Engineering, L.P., Houston, TX PANDRA RICHIE, SCRP, GMS, Long & Foster Corporate Real Estate Services Division, Chantilly, VA C. MATTHEW (MATT) SPINOLO, SCRP, GMS, Primacy Relocation, LLC, Memphis, TN

EX-OFFICIO Chairman, U.S. Advisory Council JOSEPH V. BENEVIDES, JR., SCRP, Consultant, Assonet, MA Chairman, Foundation for Workforce Mobility KEVIN E. RUSSELL, SCRP, PHH Mortgage, Mt. Laurel, NJ

In Memoriam Worldwide ERC® was saddened to learn of the passing of Valerie Glancey on January 18, 2010. A former member of the Worldwide ERC® board of directors, Glancey will be remembered for her straightforward approach to her work and to the mobility industry, her attention to detail, and for the contributions she made to the workforce mobility profession.

In Memoriam Worldwide ERC® was saddened to learn of the passing of Assunta Mondello, managing director of Expatriate Advisor, who died with her husband and two children at their home in France in January as the result of a tragic accident. 2 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

MOBILITY (ISSN 0195-8194) is published monthly by Worldwide ERC®, 4401 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 510, Arlington, VA 22203, +1 703 842 3400. MOBILITY examines key issues affecting the global mobility workforce for the benefit of employers and firms or individuals providing specific services to relocated employees and their families. The opinions expressed in MOBILITY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Worldwide ERC®. MOBILITY is printed in the United States of America. Periodical postage paid at Arlington, VA, and additional mailing offices. Worldwide ERC® members receive one annual subscription with their membership dues. Subscriptions are available to both members and non-members at $48 each per year. Copyright © by Worldwide ERC®. All rights reserved. Neither all nor part of the contents published herein may be reproduced in any form without written permission of Worldwide ERC®. POSTMASTER: send address changes to M OBILITY , Worldwide ERC ®, 4401 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 510, Arlington, VA 22203

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Five Things Everyone Should Know About Global Mobility


t has been said that globalization is the process by which all human activities on every part of the planet are increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Whether you are linked to mobility with a domestic focus, or your workplace is the entire world, there is no denying that our industry is—more than ever—reliant on a broader and

higher knowledge about global workforce mobility issues. And although there are many issues of which we must be aware, at present, there are five distinct and significant areas that all of us must recognize and appreciate, wherever we are positioned on the globe. Mobility is a key business strategy. Regardless of the headlines about downsizing and hiring freezes, talent management still reigns supreme as one of the principal strategies for businesses today. Effective global workforce mobility programs recognize these truths: a company’s most crucial asset is its people, mobility is crucial to the strategies of attracting and retaining talent, and successful companies are building and aligning their talent and leadership development programs to business strategy for greater business results. Mobility processes and practices are more sophisticated. Companies recognize the changing face of the assignee, and are continually evolving their mobility practices into more targeted and sophisticated methods. They are striking an intelligent balance between cost and the need to tailor mobility benefit packages to fit the current employee or new hire, and, in the case of international assignments, have found that the traditional “fully loaded expat” is not necessarily the only way to accomplish a mobile workforce. Other mobility models such as shortterm, localized, local plus, commuter, and hybrid structures have enabled companies to address specific employee needs, reduce costs, efficiently target mobility benefits, and add flexibility in deploying talent across borders. Just as most challenges bring a parallel benefit, there have been a number




of tools developed to help manage mobility: HRIS systems to identify, target, and track high potentials; mobility software to facilitate monitoring the mobility process and associated costs; and, for international assignments, assessment and selection instruments to help ensure the candidate is suitable for the intended position. As the mobility function experiences more integration with company talent programs, its place as a necessary part of business strategy is further cemented. Family matters. Family concerns are more impactful in today’s workforce mobility environment. The increase in the number of accompanying spouses with careers influences the total family income, lifestyle, housing, and a range of other variables. Identifying appropriate schools for accompanying children is daunting and, in some geographies, suitable schooling is sparse and expensive. The ability of the spouse or partner to continue their career in a different state, region, or country can be affected. In general, companies are more mindful of the fact that unresolved family issues can lead, directly or indirectly, to assignment failure... and, conversely, that managing the assignment with the entire family in mind can increase success. The world of global mobility is complex… and always changing. Global mobility is no longer primarily a west-to-east experience. The economic balance of power has shifted from the West to the eastern economic powerhouses of China; India; Brazil; Russia and other eastern European countries; and Africa… creating an infinite mixture of departure and destination locations. As more



companies send their employees into emerging markets, there are more incidences of areas which may not have current infrastructure to support such needs as housing, schooling, and medical requirements. The logistics of workforce mobility must be managed, along with a range of issues that include tax, pension, labor law, security, global compensation, global medical, culture, and language issues. Security concerns require anticipation, planning, and agility to address the potential of natural disasters, political threats or the rapid spread of global pandemics by locating, educating, evacuating, and at all times protecting one’s workforce. Immigration and labor laws are in a constant state of flux; and unstable currencies and varying costs for housing and living expenses add to the intricacy of our work. We must have expert support and current data to adequately assess and address risk to both the assignee and the company. Globalization is both old and new. We must shed the concept that globalization is only recently coming into focus. For indeed, from the moment our ancestors first set foot on lands beyond their home countries, globalization was set in motion. As humans, we explore and expand, share our cultures, seek challenge and opportunities, adjust our expectations, and grow our horizons. We are increasingly interdependent… and increasingly aware of how wonderfully interconnected we are. —Dr. Santrupt B Misra Chairman, Worldwide ERC® Global Advisory Council Aditya Birla Management Corporation Pvt. Ltd.


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One Global Solution Why trust your global mobile workforce to a complex patchwork of vendors? Weichert Relocation Resources is one of the world’s largest international assignment practices, delivering everything you need from one convenient source, including: • Global tax reporting and compensation capabilities including expense tracking and multi-currency payments • Integrated technology to track all assignee information through one portal • Seamless coordination of on-the-ground services in 160 countries through our accredited Weichert Global Network • The industry’s deepest bench of international assignment professionals No matter where in the world you need your employees to be, we can handle every detail, ensuring a smooth transition, boosting satisfaction and productivity, and letting you remain focused on core business functions. For information on our latest Next Practice innovation, the Global Payroll Workbench, email


For the latest trends and topics, visit


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Immigration is not just one of many practice areas at Fragomen - it is our sole focus. We work with each client to understand their business and immigration priorities; monitor worldwide policy, regulations and trends; and draw on our collective experience to proactively counsel clients. See how your view of the world changes when you work with a law firm totally focused on immigration law. Your world. Our experience.

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MOBILITY Magazine of Worldwide ERC®




Requirements for Global Leadership Success By Charlene Solomon and Michael Schell

26 38

Hong Kong By Anne Dean and Beverly L W Sunn, GMS

The Rising Bar for China Expatriates By Rebecca Weiner


On a Wing and a Paw— Moving Pets to Asia Pacific By Rachel Farris


New EU Rules on Social Security By Nino Nelissen, GMS, and Monique Disseldorp


The Successful Global Presenter: Seven Steps to Develop Your Cultural Agility By Dave Underhill


38 46

An Innovative Approach to Tax Equalization for Non-U.S. Employees By Neil B. Krupp, CMC


Ninety Days or Nine Months: Avoiding Unnecessary Inventory with a Five-Step Qualification Process By Jill Heineck


The Art of Exceptions


By Roy Sooman, CRP


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MOBILITY Magazine of Worldwide ERC®




Vice President & Publisher Jerry Holloman

Five Things Everyone Should Know About Global Mobility

Managing Editor

By Dr. Santrupt B Misra



Frank Mauck

Chairman Joy Morrison, CRP, GMS, PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, NY Gaetane Brummett, CRP, GMS, Prudential CA Realty, Huntington Beach, CA Claude A. Choate, CRP, Choate Realty Group, Dallas, TX Marge A. Dillon, CRP, GMS, Xerox Corporation, Lewisville, TX Sean Dubberke, RW3 LLC, New York, NY


Deborah A. Dull, CRP, GMS, Crown Relocations, Houston, TX


C. William Heald, SCRP, Heald Associates LLC, Boston, MA


Joleen Lauffer, CRP, GMS, AIReS, Pittsburgh, PA


Patrick Moore, Hayden Moore LLC, Chagrin Falls, OH


Christopher J. Otteau, Otteau Valuation Group, Inc., East Brunswick, NJ

Pamela Dunleavy, CRP, Primacy Relocation, LLC, Memphis, TN Tacha Kasper, CRP, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, Chicago, IL Mark A. Lozano, CRP, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Minneapolis, MN Paul O’Leary, CRP, GMS, The Move Management Center, San Mateo, CA Bari L. Rubenstein, CRP, Consultant, Glenview, IL Stefanie R. Schreck, CRP, GMS, American International Group, New York, NY Judit Slezak, GMS, Prudential Relocation, Washington, DC Carolyn White, Graebel Relocation Services Worldwide, Aurora, CO GLOBAL EDITORIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Chairman Joy Morrison, CRP, GMS, PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, NY Michele Bar-Pereg, Bar-Pereg Group, Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS Lorraine Bello, GMS, Ricklin-Echikson Associates, Inc. (REA), Millburn, NJ Lorelei Carobolante, SCRP, GMS, GPHR, G2nd Systems, LLC, San Ramon, CA Scott Craighead, SCRP, GMS, Blue Sky Executive Search, New York, NY Anne Dean, Living Abroad, LLC, Norwalk, CT Cindy Madden, CRP, Cartus, Danbury, CT Derrick Kon, Mercer (Singapore), Pte. Ltd, SINGAPORE Anne-Claude Lambelet, GMS, The International Relocation Associates (TIRA), Geneva, SWITZERLAND

Design/Production: Ideas, Communicated, LLC, Vienna, VA, Printing: CADMUS Specialty Publications, Richmond, VA Reprints: Katina Moaney, CADMUS Reprint Services,; +1 800 487 5625 Advertising Sales: Glen Cox, National Sales Manager, The Townsend Group, +1 301 215 6710; ext. 109;


Tacita Lewars, GMS, Globaforce Incorporated, Calgery, Alberta, CANADA Andrea Massoud, GMS, Living in Brazil, International Relocation Services, Barueri-Sao Paulo, BRAZIL Christine Moore, SIRVA Relocation, Westmont, IL Nino Nelissen, GMS, Executive Mobility Group, Schlipol Airport, THE NETHERLANDS Constance Pegushin, Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, San Francisco, CA Maureen Bridget Rabotin, Effective Global Leadership, Paris, FRANCE René Rosemary Stegmann, GMS, Relocation Africa, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA Rita Wagner, GMS, Interdean International Relocation, London, UNITED KINGDOM Nick Woodhams, GMS, Woodhams Relocation Centre, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

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Global Relocation Is Always A People Willing to Expand Their Horizons & People Eager to Exceed Expectations

Global mobility begins and ends with people helping people. It starts with the corporate relocation manager who teams with talented people who manage a people-focused relocation program and the people performing in-person relocation services worldwide.

Here are some reasons why people choose our people and find us easy to work with. #1 Your budget is our budget Graebel is NOT a cost-plus service arranger. Our services are competitively-priced with direct pass-through costs so you will never pay expensive hidden fees or middleman mark-ups.

#2 Excellence everywhere and every time For 59 years, Graebel has asked...

What do you need? How can we help?® Our people are driven by one common goal worldwide...

Commitments Made. Commitments Kept.® Graebel is truly one-of-a-kind. We are not cost-plus service arrangers. We are service providers of the highest caliber worldwide.

Worldwide Full-Ser vice Relocation Ser vices | World © 2009 - 2010 Graebe l Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Graebel is your single source global relocation solution. Our menu is all encompassing from policy review to inperson destination services worldwide. Our 150-country alliance unites over 11,000 experienced relocation people who are continuously measured to ensure excellence.

#3 Our expertise knows no boundaries Up-to-the-minute information helps your people make informed decisions about where to live, find the best schools, special interest and social networks, and more. We also offer cultural and language training, currency information, helpful hints to settle-in, and of course far more!

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s About People

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#7 Right for today. Ready for tomorrow! #4 Minimum open case files for maximum service Every consultant is teamed with a trained relocation associate to make sure your people’s calls never reach voicemail. And, every team’s open case files are monitored daily so highest-possible personalized service is preserved.

Our people are never satisfied with business as usual. We regularly arrange business reviews to set higher benchmarks; write white papers and share trendsetting best practices; host regional roundtables and hold an annual global relocation policy summit, and a by-invitation alliance conference for relocation leaders from around the world.

#5 Real-time business intelligence Our real-time business intelligence reports provide you with the decision-making power at your fingertips, around the clock! 24/7, your transferred people can access city or countryspecific details and more. Of course, they can submit expenses or check reimbursements online.

#6 Always grateful for – never satisfied with! Graebel is widely recognized. The HRO ‘relocation bakers’ dozen,’ the Workforce Management ‘HotList,’ and the Quest for Quality Award, and SAS 70, C-TPAT, TRACE, and ISO certifications are examples of our ongoing quality commitment.


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Around the Worldwide ERC®

Unique Property Database Case Studies Valuable for Members of Worldwide ERC®


he Worldwide ERC® Unique Property Database (UPD) houses case studies concerning properties with highly unusual characteristics from actual relocation transactions. The purpose of the project is to provide the industry with examples which appraisers and others can use as a reference against their own research and, as Pam Milani, CRP, with SIRVA Relocation, recently found, it also can be an invaluable tool when working with a transferee who is “surprised” at their appraisal. “I just wanted to share some feedback on the UPD with you! We had a transferee who was surprised with their appraisal. The appraiser had made adjustments for some serious concerns with the exterior view and had an issue with a stigma involving criminal behavior that happened on the property. “We referred not only the client, but the transferee to some case studies from the UPD and I think it gave both

Has the Credit Crunch Changed Expatriate Life?


hen asked if the credit crunch had changed their attitude to spending, 63 percent of expats surveyed worldwide for HSBC Bank International’s 2009 “Expat Explorer” survey” said “yes.” The most affected expatriates are based in Russia, the United States, and Japan (Seventy-three percent, 74 percent, and 76 percent of expats from these countries, respectively, said the credit crunch has changed their attitudes toward spending and saving.). Surprisingly, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of expatriates based in Thailand also reported that global recession has had an effect on what they spend despite also reporting that Thailand is one of the least costly places to live compared to other locations around the world. Find out about the attitudes of expats in other locations, as well as what expats are doing to save costs and whether they are considering returning home. This report is available in the Worldwide ERC® Research Index, along with a growing library of valuable studies as an exclusive member-only benefit. Log-in today and visit: 12 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

some perspective on how these items impact value. It also reassured the transferee that these are issues that are normally addressed in the Worldwide ERC® appraisal report, and that the client was not ‘picking on him.’ “I think the UPD site has tremendous value and members need to know how to use it!” It must be remembered that UPD case studies are not intended to instruct appraisers on how much to adjust for an item but, rather, to supplement their own research. To access and search the Unique Property Database, please visit Resources/USRealEstate/Pages/ssl-unique-propertydatabase.aspx. The UPD is a benefit of Worldwide ERC membership. Not a member? Let us know. Contact us at +1 703 842 3427 or via e-mail at

National Relocation Conference Exhibit and Sponsorship Opportunities Now Available et ready for one of the workforce mobility industry’s largest annual events! Exhibit and sponsorship opportunities are now available for the 2010 National Relocation Conference at the Walt Disney World Dolphin in Orlando, FL, May 19 through 21, 2010. Now more than ever before, it is critical to take advantage of this opportunity to boost your company’s visibility, showcase your services, and connect with your clients and partners. You will experience exceptional networking opportunities, insightful educational sessions, and a dynamic relocation services marketplace at the conference. If you provide relocation and workforce mobility services, exhibiting at this event is MUST for your company! Exhibit space and sponsorship opportunities for the National Relocation Conference are limited and selling quickly. Booth space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so sign up today! For more information and to sign up, visit the National Relocation Conference online at:


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Worldwide scope. Localized service. End-to-end precision.

At Primacy, excellence is our standard. Regardless of location or logistics, our global relocation experts have all the right tools to provide you with consistent, end-to-end results. Those tools are integrated into a unified technology platform, providing us with a real-time snapshot of every detail, including costs, right down to the penny, centavo, senti, fen and dirham. Managing every detail of every move is not a goal at Primacy. It’s a way of life that leads to more predictable outcomes for everyone involved – time after time. For more information, visit today.


©2009, Primacy Relocation, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Executive Spotlight


orth Texas Relocation Professionals, Dallas, TX, has announced its 2010 board of directors. Mark Waller, CRP, A-1 Freeman North American, Inc., was named president. Tom Wortham, CRP, GMS, Primacy Relocation, was named vice president. Jill Wylie, Prudential Texas Properties, was named secretary. Barbara Miller, CRP, GMS, Capital Relocation; and Nola Leverenz, CRP, Nelson Westerberg of Texas, were named treasurer/membership. Tina Swenson, CRP, GMS, Ebby Halliday, Realtors; and Sandra Ehlert, Allie Beth Allman & Associates hold the programs office. Chuck Stewart, CRP, GMS, Goingthere Global Destination Services; Vicki Heitman, Cartus; and Bud Cole, Crown Relocations, hold the sponsorship office. Diane Clark, Prime Lending, Inc.; and Gerry Bertolasi, GMS, Cultural Awareness International, hold the outreach office. Margie Dillon, CRP, GMS, is in charge of communication/PR. Lynn Grimes, CRP, GMS, Altair Global Relocation, is in charge of the newsletter. Historian is Marnita Williams, Bank of America. Bruce Waller, CRP, Armstrong Relocation, is in charge of the website, and Gloria Rayos, Verizon Communications, holds the advisory office. The Greater Washington Employee Relocation Council (GWERC), Washington, DC, has announced its 2010 board of directors. Connie Dees, CRP, Bank of America Home Loans, has been named president. President elect is Pam Silvis-Zelasko, CRP, General Services Administration. Rolanzo Kinniebrew, CRP, PHH Mortgage, has been named treasurer. Karen Kneib, GMS, B.F. Saul, has been named secretary. Lisa Beranich, CRP, GMS, Move Management Inc., is in charge of programs. Programs elect is Joe Poole, Suddath. Bill Mulholland, CRP, GMS, American Relocation Connections, is in charge of member14 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

Your Name Here Executive Spotlight highlights the job changes and achievements of employee mobility professionals. E-mail your hiring and promotion announcements, as well as your regional group communications, to And, for job seekers and employers, be sure to visit the Worldwide ERC® Career Center—the premier niche job board for the global workforce mobility industry—at You can post anonymous résumés, apply to jobs for free, and set up personal job alerts that will notify you when a job that matches your criteria is posted. ship. In charge of communications is Melissa Moorer, Prudential Relocation. Ad Hoc office is held by Michael Berry, CRP, GMS, Hilldrup Companies, and Rod Ulrich, Bureau of Prisons, is in charge of by-laws. Pat Tooman, CRP, GMS, Primacy Relocation, is past president. Dwellworks, LLC, Cleveland, OH, has named Corey Przenkop vice president, business development residential services group. Emigra, Vienna, VA, has named Anita Pali UK country manager. Gurinder Samrai, CIPD, has joined the firm as global trainer. RW3 CultureWizard, New York, NY, has named Joshua Sturtevant chief technology officer. Marriott ExecuStay, Bethesda, MD, has named Kathy Brockway regional director of sales for the East Coast. Kelly McDaniel has been named the regional director of sales for the West Coast. Hardy Mattox has been named general manager for the Florida markets of Orlando and Jacksonville. Greg Landis has been named federal government sales manager for the Washington, DC, market. Karla Pinato has been named director of the corporate and military relocations division of The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster® Real Estate, Inc., Clarksville, MD. TRC Global Solutions, Milwaukee, WI, has named Craig Mueller, CRP, GMS, senior director, global business development. Jerry Funaro has been

named director, global communications. TRC also added new employees to its operations and finance groups. In operations, Chris Grundy, CRP, was named personal move manager. Amy Gerosa, Lori Davies, Blair Gebhardt, Marge Terrell, CRP, and Ben Bittner were named personal move associates. In finance, Nicole Batinger was named accounts payable specialist; and Amy Kust was named accountant. Mobility Services International (MSI), Newburyport, MA, has named Andrew Brombosz regional vice president, business development for the Midwest and western region. NuCompass Mobility Services Inc., Pleasanton, CA, has named Paul A. Sorrentino, CRP, vice president, corporate partnerships. Ellen Riordan has been named vice president, strategic solutions. Karen Conroy has been named implementation specialist. Interdean International Relocation, London, United Kingdom, has named Simon Price director of UK Relocation Services. Atlas Van Lines, Evansville, IN, has named Mark Spiehler as senior vice president of account/agent/claims services. Brenda McCandless has been named senior director of claims services. Jeffery Schimmel has been named senior director of operations for the relocation services group and specialized transportation group. Michael Spearin has been named director of fleet maintenance for Atlas Terminal Company.

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Industry Spotlight

Almost 60 Percent of Laid-off Workers Have Found New Jobs, Says New Survey


espite gloomy job loss forecasts in the United States, a recent survey has found that many unemployed Americans have remained resilient in their job searches, with reports of success in regaining employment. According to an updated survey from CareerBuilder, Chicago, IL, 58 percent of those laid off in the last 12 months reported securing new positions. Fifty one percent of workers who were laid off from full-time jobs in the last year have found new full-time positions, up from 48 percent as reported in June 2009. Seven percent found part-time positions, up from 3 percent six months ago. The survey queried 1,004 workers ages 18 and older in the United States who were laid off from fulltime jobs within the last 12 months, and was conducted between November 5 and November 23, 2009, by Harris Interactive® on behalf of CareerBuilder. “Despite one of the most competitive job markets in decades, nine-inten workers say they have not given up on their job searchs, and the amount of workers who have found work is evidence that their drive and determination are paying off,” said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. “The number of laid-off workers who have found new full-time and part-time jobs rose in the last six months. Although this good news reflects a healing economy, it also shows that job seekers are exploring career options in new industries and locations. According to CareerBuilder, with regard to workers who had found new jobs after being laid off within the last 12 months, 61 percent said

they were able to negotiate comparable or higher pay in their new position. Thirty-nine percent of workers reported taking a pay reduction. Further, 51 percent of workers said they found work in a different field than they had been in when previously employed, with one-third of those workers reporting enjoyment in their new positions. Workers are looking for employment in other areas of the country, according to the release. Twenty-six percent of those who were laid off in the last 12 months and found jobs relocated to a new city or state, up

from 20 percent in June. Of those who are still looking for employment, 37 percent said they would consider relocating for a job opportunity, down from 44 percent in June. The survey also identified a preserved interest in the entrepreneurial spirit, with 29 percent of workers who have not found jobs say they are considering starting their own business, which, according to CareerBuilder, is on par with the results of the June 2009 survey. Further, laid-off workers are using all available tools at their disposal to find employment, including network-


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Industry Spotlight

ing, online job boards, and social media sites, according to the release. Twenty-two percent of workers who were laid off in the last 12 months and found new jobs said they found their new positions through personal referrals. Twenty-one percent said they found their new jobs using online job boards; 11 percent through newspapers and other print classifieds; 8 percent through recruiting/ staffing firms; 5 percent through career fairs; and 4 percent via social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Another online CareerBuilder survey conducted between November 5 and November 23, 2009, among 5,231 U.S. workers (full-time, not self employed, nongovernment, and ages 18 and older) also found that an improving economy has some workers preparing to move

to a new job in the new year. Nineteen percent said they plan to leave their current job in 2010 to find a new one, and nine percent said they plan to leave in 2011. “Many of the decisions employers made last year were designed to preserve the health of their businesses and many survived because of them,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “In some cases, workers were affected by the cost cutting measures and job satisfaction levels suffered. For example, 61 percent of employees said they were satisfied with their jobs last year—down from 70 percent in 2008. Employers should take workers’ pulses early on in the new year. That way, they can be aware of the issues that may affect their staff’s performance, retention rates, and overall happiness on the job in coming months.”

FYI Realogy Corporation, Parsippany, NJ, has announced its relocation services subsidiary, Cartus Corporation, Danbury, CT, has acquired Primacy Relocation, Memphis, TN. PODS, Clearwater, FL, has announced it is now a member of the Realogy Franchise Group’s, Parsippany, NJ, Preferred Alliance program. The company also announced plans to hire 255 customer and call center representatives through May 2010 at its corporate headquarters in Florida and in cities across the United States and Canada. Dwellworks, Cleveland, OH, has announced the introduction of its Career Advising solutions as part of its service diversification strategy, made possible through its acquisition of Options Resource Careers (ORC), Cleveland. American Relocation Connections (ARC), Fairfax, VA, has moved to a new office space: 11350 Random Hills Road, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030. The company also has announced it has signed a new client, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS), Columbus, OH. The company also announced a new partnership with the Mid-Atlantic HERC (Higher Education Recruitment Consortium), Baltimore, MD. Move One, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has announced it has been issued its independent license to operate in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The company also has announced the launch of a series of five online city guides. Crown Worldwide Group, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has announced the company has officially begun its operation in Saudi Arabia. The company also has announced the opening of its fifth office in Canada in Ottawa. TheMIGroup, Toronto, ON, Canada, has announced its ISO Registration has been certified to the standards of ISO 9001:2008. The Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster® Real Estate, Inc., Clarksville, MD, has announced its expansion into a new division, corporate and military relations. Interdean International Relocation, London, United Kingdom, has announced the company has been selected by BP, London, as its global vendor for international household goods moving services. Paragon Relocation, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA has announced the launch of its corporate blog, The company also is on Twitter,, and Facebook, Coastline Relocation, Goldsboro, NC, a full-service branch of City Transfer and Storage Company, High Point, NC, has announced it has joined Atlas Van Lines, Evansville, IN, as an agent. Arpin Van Lines, Inc., West Warwick, RI, has announced it is on Facebook at Toll Transitions, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, has announced it was awarded the Australian Department of Defence contract for the provision of both removals and relocation administration services. Century 21 Real Estate LLC, Parsippany, NJ, has announced it has signed a master franchise agreement to license Century 21® franchises in Slovakia. Clements International, Washington, DC, has announced it will open its first European office in London, United Kingdom, in 2010. 18 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

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Quick Takes

Foreign National Work Quota Guidelines Revised in India, Filing Period for New U.S. H1-B Petitions Begins April 1 isit the Worldwide ERC® Tax and Immigration News Libraries daily to keep track of all the global tax and immigration issues affecting global mobility professionals today. The following two headlines showcase the importance of this valuable Worldwide ERC® resource.


India—Foreign National Worker Quota Guidelines Revised The Ministry of Labour and Employment and Training, Government of India (MLET) has recently issued revised guidelines for the issuance of an employment visa (EV) to a foreign national (FN) to curb, in particular, the influx of unskilled and semi-skilled FNs to India and use Indian workers. Reported by IAS Global Watch newsletter from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP on February 3, 2010.

United States—Filing Period for New H1-B Petitions Begins April 1 The filing period for “new” H-1B petitions to be counted against the annual H-1B quota (H-1B cap) for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY 2011) begins on April 1, 2010. Employers are encouraged to begin identifying current and future employees who will need H-1B visa status to be legally employed. Reported by Global Immigration News newsletter from Emigra Ogletree Worldwide on February 2, 2010. Links to both of these newsletters mentioned above, and many more news updates being added daily, can be found in the Worldwide ERC® Tax and Immigration News Libraries, available to you in one place on the Worldwide ERC® website at



orldwide ERC® members are exchanging questions, answers, and ideas in our online discussion Forums. Under discussion right now in the U.S. Domestic All Members Forum: • Some lenders are seeking repayment of the deficit created by a foreclosure or short sale. How will this affect companies’ homesale programs? • Are you seeing positive change in your local real estate market consistent with seasonal trends? If so, what are the strong indicators? • How are companies handling moves of internal candidates as opposed to new hires? Do you offer benefits to both? Under discussion right now in the Global Workforce Mobility All Members Forum: • Governments are creating policy, economic and, in some cases, political, in an effort to deal with the economic crises that affect their people. Shouldn’t cultural orientations be considered for such a policy to work? • In a transition from short-term to long-term conditions, what do you do to replace the short-term assistance allowance when there is no cost-of-living allowance? Be part of the conversation. Log in and add your comments and questions today. Visit or click on the white “Communities” text hyperlink at the top of every page of Come join your community. Note that access to the forums is an exclusive benefit of Worldwide ERC® membership. Join now or review your membership for 2010 if you have not already done so.


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Requirements for Global Leadership Success BY CHARLENE SOLOMON AND MICHAEL SCHELL Leaders in possession of a global mindset have special qualities that create effectiveness on the international stage. Solomon and Schell describe what it takes to be the quintessential global leader. iam Brown is a quintessential global leader. As president and CEO of Integreon, Los Angeles, CA, a knowledge and legal process outsourcing (KPO and LPO) company serving lawyers, accountants, management consultants, and other professionals in such diverse locations as London, New York, Mumbai, Manila, and even Fargo, North Dakota, Brown requires a broad range of global leadership skills if he is to be successful. He has the unusual ability to grasp the gestalt of a global organization—the business strategy and tactics as well as the entire employee life cycle of hiring, training, and retaining—and translate that into a unique corporate culture that embraces national cultural differences as a marketplace advantage. His philosophy is that if Integreon is going to maximize the intellectual talent of people from around the world, capitalizing on cultural differences is a positive part of the equation. Brown is an excellent example of a successful global leader. You can see his capa-



bilities by the way he runs his far-flung global leadership team. Interestingly, Brown, who is British, has lived in several different countries and now resides in the United States. Look around at effective global leaders such as PepsiCo’s president and CEO Indra K. Nooyi (who was raised in Madras, India, and went to school at Yale), Eastman Kodak’s Antonio Perez (an American citizen born in Spain, schooled in Spain and France) and HSBC’s Chairman Stephen Green (British, who has lived in Europe, North America, and the Middle East), and you can see that each has special qualities that make them effective on the international stage. What are those qualities? What are the requirements for global leadership success? At their core, they share a global mindset.

A Global Mindset What is a global mindset? Why do you need it, and how do you get it? A global mindset is the ability to reflexively integrate everything you have learned about culture into your atti-

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A Global Mindset, Defined Co-author and CEO of RW3 CultureWizard, Michael Schnell, continues this discussion about requirements for global leadership success in the Worldwide ERC® online all member Global Workforce Mobility Forum. To read Schnell’s March 1 post and to post your own questions, comments, and feedback about this topic, visit the Worldwide ERC® Global Workforce Mobility Forum by clicking on the “Communities” link at the top of the Worldwide ERC® homepage, The three Worldwide ERC® all member Forums (U.S. Domestic Relocation Forum, Global Workforce Mobility Forum and The Green Forum) give participants visibility as subject matter experts within the industry and the ability to leverage the highly relational nature of their Worldwide ERC® membership. tude and behaviors. It is about having the ability to read the visible clues of behavior so that you understand what may be going on under the surface, as well as make use of those cues in your actions and thoughts so you are able to interpret behavior and its associated meaning. Thus, when your French colleague gives a shrug of the shoulders to a statement you make or your Jordanian host takes you by the hand, you know what it means without having to think, or at least know enough to put it into cultural context regardless of how foreign it may seem. Having a global mindset means that you: • have the ability to be effective in interpersonal relations; • can understand local markets and take advantage of business opportunities; • recognize talent regardless of the “package” in which it comes; and • can adjust your personal strategies and plans in a foreign culture. Effective managers develop a strategy and plan, know what the objectives are and move toward those objectives, and continually fine-tune tactics to the realities they encounter. 24 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

And, speaking of global mindsets, in early 2005, a group of professors at Thunderbird School of Global Management (which consistently has been ranked number one in the United States and the world for its expertise in international business) partnered with the Worldwide ERC® Foundation to complete a rigorous and scientific study of the drivers of expatriate success. The result is a valuable and informative analysis of the characteristics of a global mindset, which is essential for success as a global leader. The authors of the study write that a global mindset requires intellectual capital, psychological capital or cultural sensitivity, psychological fortitude, and social capital. For more information, read the report available on the Foundation’s website at: global_mindset.pdf.

That is tough enough in a domestic setting, yet a manager in the global arena must be able to do all of that with the enormous added complexity of different cultures.

How Do You Gain a Global Mindset? If having a global mindset is a critical prerequisite for global leadership, research and experience have shown that the best way to perfect those skills and abilities is to live and immerse oneself in a globally diverse environment. You need to: • recognize your own cultural values and biases; • learn the basics of cultural differences and become aware of different behavioral preferences; • understand that everyone is a product of their own cultures; • develop personal strategies to adjust to signals and cultural cues; and • be in a continuous learning state. Of course, having a global mindset requires an understanding of culture—what it is, where it comes from, and how profoundly it affects values, beliefs, and behaviors. It then requires a grasp of how cultural values manifest themselves in the work-

place and influence workplace behaviors and interactions.

Benefiting from Life Abroad Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D., professor of human resource management and the director of the Center for HR Strategy at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, has conducted several studies on developing global leaders and has found that certain people develop tremendously from living and working internationally. Caligiuri says “the right people— those characteristics such as emotional stability, extraversion, and openness clearly develop from their experiences abroad.” Noting the type of assignments that are most likely to develop global leadership competence, Caligiuri says, “the most developmental international assignments are those that give individuals significant peer-level contact with host nationals and allow them to question their assumptions and test the limits of their knowledge.” She adds, “taken together, the right people—with the right personality characteristics when placed in truly developmental assignments will improve the skills needed for global leadership development.”

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In “The Importance of Cultural Skills in Senior Managers,” a study of senior global HR managers conducted in 2008 by RW3 CultureWizard, New York, NY, and ORC Worldwide, New York, nearly 81 percent of the participants indicated that having worked in a foreign country is an important criterion for leadership. As evidence of that, respondents indicated that among their current leadership, on average, 22.5 percent come from outside the home country. The percentage of leadership with foreign experience is echoed among the highpotential group, with companies indicating that, on average, 21.5 percent are foreign born and 28.5 percent have international experience. Among surveyed companies, on average, 28.6 percent of senior managers have worked and lived abroad, and it is expected that during the next five years, on average, 27.4 percent of corporate leaders will be recruited globally. This really is not surprising because a key component in having a global mindset, as pointed out by Dr.

Caligiuri, is a strong sense of self that often is developed during opportunities that require you to reach past the limits of your previous experiences. Strong leaders need to have a clear personal compass and learn to integrate those personal values without prejudice in order to lead global organizations. Nothing enables you to gain those skills as effectively as living in another country. Research indicates that these abilities are perfected by the experience gained on international assignments because it is during those assignments that future leaders are able to learn a number of things first-hand. They learn to recognize marketplace signals outside their previous experience. They must grapple with complexities of incorporating contributions of different types of people with diverse styles into their everyday workplace. Finally, they must identify methods for communicating with employees and supervisors who may have quite different styles from themselves, either more or less direct, more or less verbal.

Taken together, today’s and tomorrow’s global managers will be masters of a global mindset, will have the personality traits of emotional stability and openness, and will have honed their critical management skills on international assignments for multinational organizations. When you look at the role of an international assignment manager as one that fosters future global leaders— who provide the greatest benefit to an organization—it adds a crucial dimension to the responsibility that these managers have. Editor’s note: a portion of the preceding is adapted from “Managing Across Cultures: the Seven Keys to Doing Business with a Global Mindset” (McGraw-Hill, 2009) by Charlene Solomon and Michael Schell. Charlene Solomon is executive vice president of RW3 CultureWizard, New York, NY. She can be reached at +1 212 691 8900 or e-mail Michael Schell is CEO of RW3 CultureWizard, New York, NY. He can be reached at +1 212 691 8900 or e-mail

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B Y A N N E D E A N A N D B E V E R LY L W S U N N , G M S In November 2009, the Hong Kong Tourism Board wrote, “Hong Kong is a kaleidoscope of life; a sophisticated fusion of East and West; a city of diversity where new and old meet at every turn. It is a unique experience shaped by a distinctive past and dreams of the future; an age-old synthesis of cultures and traditions that opens a window into what will be, while embracing what has passed.” Dean and Sunn take a closer look at the host city of the 2010 Worldwide ERC® Global Workforce Summit®: Focus


he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is “Asia’s world city,” and has established itself as one of the most noteworthy cities in the world in the latter part of the 20th century. Although its personality is international, the HKSAR’s true character is Chinese. People of all nationalities have been attracted to the region because it is an excellent business base, both geographically and in terms of sustained eco-

nomic growth. Tourism, too, has added its share to the melting pot. However, the Chinese have made up more than 95 percent of the population for more than 150 years. Today, its population of more than 7 million is 95 percent Chinese; the Chinese majority is, in turn, mostly Cantonese, from the Guangdong Province of southern China. Filipinos are the next largest nationality after the Chinese. After the Filipinos come Indonesians, Americans, MOBILITY/MARCH 2010 27

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Out and About in Hong Kong • Hong Kong generally is a very safe place, but you should be aware of your belongings in case pickpockets are around, especially in crowded areas. • Remember that jaywalking, if you get caught, will result in a fine. As with many large cities, cars have the right of way—stay alert. • If you are shopping in one of the many open markets, and you show a lot of interest in a particular item, you may be expected to buy it. Use discretion, do not mislead the market sellers. • You should not wear blue or white at social events, as these colors are associated with death and mourning. • As opposed to China, tipping is much more common in Hong Kong. • If someone gives you a gift, always reciprocate. Wrap the gift, but not in blue paper. • When visiting a private home, bring wine, candy, or fruit. • If possible, seek cross-cultural training before you go. Learning as much as you can about the culture and customs of Hong Kong ahead of time will make your assignment a much more rewarding and enriching experience.

Canadians, Thais, Indians, Australians, British, Nepalese, Malaysians, and Japanese. There are smaller groups of Austrians, Dutch, French, Germans, Indonesians, Italians, Koreans, Pakistanis, Portuguese, and Singaporeans, as well—making the area quite diverse. Hong Kong is located on the southeast coast of the Chinese mainland and covers only about 1,104 28 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

square kilometers (426 square miles). The HKSAR includes Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and another 234 islands that make up the New Territories. Hong Kong was part of China for almost 2,000 years, but, in 1840, Britain started the Opium War with China and, two years later, the Qing dynasty was forced into ceding Hong Kong Island to Britain. After the Second Opium War in 1856,

China ceded the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories, as well. After the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, the British took advantage of their favorable position to enlarge Hong Kong’s boundaries for defensive purposes as the Western nations divided former Chinese territory. Through a joint agreement effective for 99 years, the British government leased Hong Kong with the special provision that the Chinese would have access to Hong Kong waters in the event of war. Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997. Many described the changeover as “One Country, Two Systems,” with the HKSAR continuing to prosper on its own. Hong Kong continues to retain its own boundaries apart from the China mainland.

Climate While the HKSAR is indeed a tropical destination, its winters are quite cold, especially when you consider that most buildings are designed to let heat escape and are unheated in winter. The winter is at its coldest from the end of December through February. A sweater or jacket is a necessity.

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From January to mid-February, the weather in the region is dry and clear; it fluctuates from cold and overcast to sunny and bright. The rainy season falls in April, when the temperatures and humidity rise. Weather in May and June is incredibly wet and tropical. Thunderstorms, which can be extremely dangerous, bring torrential rain. Summer falls between mid-May and September, and it is during these months that you will most appreciate your air conditioner.

There are three levels of rainstorm warnings that are issued depending on the conditions. Amber means heavy rain is expected or has fallen, and people are advised to watch for the red or black storm warnings. Red means that people should take shelter in a safe place, as there could be flooding and landslides. A red warning will start to close early education schools, and a black storm warning is issued when the rain is extremely heavy and continues for long periods. All schools are closed as there is dan-

ger of landslides, roads getting washed away, flooding, falling debris such as trees and branches, and flash floods in steep areas. People are advised to stay home or only use public transportation if necessary. Typhoons are another danger of living in the tropics, with typhoon season falling between May through November. A series of typhoon intensity-level signals are used to warn civilians of the upcoming danger. When a typhoon has been located, signals will be posted throughout


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the region. When signal one has been given, a typhoon alert is posted. Radio and television stations will broadcast regular updates. When a signal eight is given, all schools and offices close and it is advised that you stay indoors. Typhoon signal 10 means a direct hit is expected; everyone is advised to stay indoors and everything shuts down. Also, all public transportation will cease. Usually, the region experiences seven to eight typhoons each year, and the warning signals rarely go above three.

Religion Traditionally, the Chinese are believers in Buddhism, Taoism, and, to a lesser degree, Confucian philosophy. Buddhists and Taoists make up the vast majority of Hong Kong’s

religious makeup. Worship of, and respect for, ancestors is a fundamental part of the Chinese religious and social code and fits with the emphasis placed on family. There are approximately 360 Buddhist and Taoist temples in the HKSAR, and the Chinese visit temples on any given day. Religious minorities in the HKSAR include Christians, who number more than half a million. The Churches’ Union of about 250 Protestant congregations publishes the Christian Weekly newspaper. Another body that serves as a liaison among Protestant churches is the Hong Kong Christian Council. The Catholic Church publishes two weekly newspapers, the Kung Kao Po and the Sunday Examiner. The Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office is its information channel.

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There are about 80,000 Muslims and small Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish communities, as well. The Islamic Union of Hong Kong and the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong manage mosques, cemeteries, and festivals. The Hindus’ central place of worship is the Hindu Temple in Happy Valley, managed by the Hindu Association of Hong Kong. The Ohel Leah synagogue runs a recreation club for approximately 1,500 Jews. Places of worship are listed in the Hong Kong Telecom telephone book and in the Saturday edition of the South China Morning Post. The indispensable “Hong Kong Guidebook” street directory, published by Universal Publications, also lists their locations.

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The Culture As in China, keeping face or pride is of paramount concern. If you cause someone to lose face, you, too, will be perceived negatively. Many Westerners will be confused by the Chinese irreverence for personal space, as they push you on board an already “full” tram, so that they, too, can get on. By necessity,

the region does not share the Western concept of polite space. General body contact on public transport in rush hour and in busy queues is not considered rude. At other times, body contact, especially touching another person’s head, should be avoided. Other cultural tidbits include: shoes should be slipped off before or when entering households, unless

you are told otherwise; waiting until you are offered a seat is a good idea; it is impolite not to at least sip a drink that you are offered; and when giving or receiving anything it is polite to use both hands; greet the most senior person in a group first; and never leave your chopsticks stuck in rice at a meal, as this is associated with death.

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Language Cantonese and English are the HKSAR’s official languages, but those individuals interested in doing business with the mainland are encouraged to study China’s national language, Mandarin (Putonghua). The local Chinese schools currently

teach Mandarin to all students, and adults doing business with China should learn the language, as well. Cantonese has nine different tones, each of which can change the meaning of a word. One of the best for demonstrating the wide variation in meaning is “gai,” which becomes

chicken, street, or prostitute, among other things, depending on tone. It also makes word games in Cantonese a popular form of entertainment. Learning at least some of the language is recommended as courses are plentiful, and companies often will reimburse you for tuition.

Doing Business HKSAR businesses and, by extension, most Asian businesses, usually are family-run. These Asian companies do not go outside their sphere of influence unless it is necessary or highly profitable. Businesses in the region are either limited partnerships or public companies. Your home country’s consulate or local chamber of commerce will have a list of members who can offer specific advice for any corporate queries. Punctuality is expected in all situations, business and social. Do not arrive early or tardy by more than five minutes. You will not be told if your tardiness beyond 15 minutes has caused a problem, of course, but, in most cases, it does not help your image. When a meeting is over in a Hong Kong office, it is best to leave the room before the Hong Kong Chinese do, as they may need to discuss matters for quite some time after you leave Employees are addressed by rank rather than as “Mr.” or “Miss,” followed by their family name. Unless and only until your Asian colleague specifically invites you to use first names, and despite what he or she might use to refer to you, you must always use the family name. Business cards are well-used throughout the region. Cards should be given and received with both hands. Your business cards should be printed in English, with a Chinese 34 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

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translation on the other side. Be aware that official seals called “chops” still are widely used in the HKSAR business world; they commonly take the place of personal signatures. Be sure your business cards are in fine shape: the business card is an extension of you as a person, and it must look as good as possible. Never hand out a dirty, soiled, bent, or written-on card. If you use gold ink in the printing on the Hong Kong person’s side, it will indicate respect for him. When presenting a business card, you present it to your Asian associate Cantonese-side up and so that it is readable to them as you hold it, using two hands to do so. Also, a great deal of importance is placed on connections. Most foreign


companies have clear guidelines about what is acceptable in this regard, but you may want to, on occasion, perform the duties of gracious host at a dinner or other social event. You should also take note of who has extended kindness to you during your stay in Hong Kong, so that you can reciprocate appropriately. Although dress has become more casual during the past few years, business suits are common on even the hottest days. Going to a business outing or dinner still means dressing smartly, even to a degree in which you may not be accustomed. An increasing amount of business entertaining is conducted one-onone in restaurants and/or clubs that serve all types of cuisine. Business

dinners are a time to score points with your colleagues and superiors, as well as a time to discuss work-related issues. Because culturally Chinese people do many transactions while dining out, be sure to check whether or not your invitation includes your spouse. Commonly, business is never dealt with or discussed until social pleasantries have been exchanged, and sometimes it is not discussed during the meal at all. Anne Dean is director of editorial services for Living Abroad, LLC, Norwalk, CT, and a member of the MOBILITY Global Editorial Advisory Committee. She can be reached at +1 203 221 1997 or e-mail Beverly L W Sunn, GMS, is president of Asia Pacific Properties, Hong Kong, China. She can be reached at +85 2281 7800 or e-mail

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Expatriates today have very real opportunities in China, but the expectations and environment have subtly changed in the last few years. Weiner examines how economic shifts have affected how China-bound Americans, as well as their employers, make the most of the opportunities that await them in the East.


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The Rising Bar

for China Expatriates BY REBECCA WEINER


ews headlines today proclaim China the hot new career destination. The New York Times reports on U.S. college graduates flocking to China. The Wall Street Journal describes traders applying to Beijing’s Financial Street after the Wall Street meltdown. American executives are lobbying for China postings, and the Internet is rife with sites such as and One site,, echoes a traditional Chinese name for America from back when most Chinese were far more eager to work here than Americans were to work there. How the world has changed. Economic fundamentals underlie this new China gold rush. While Americans see slowing job losses as good news, and applaud a 1 percent slowdown because it “could have been worse,” China seems on track for 9 percent annual growth and her coastal factories are complaining about labor shortages. Nor is such growth new. People long involved with China (I first went in 1984.) have found huge career opportunities in her record-breaking growth. It sometimes feels like the rest of America has just woken up to opportunities others have embraced for decades. But how real are today’s China opportunities? Have economic shifts affected how expatriates in China are received? How can China-bound Americans—and the companies and programs supporting them—make the most of what opportunities remain? MOBILITY/MARCH 2010 39

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China Retakes Center Stage Would-be China expatriates today must understand that as China grows, her views of multinational companies (MNCs) and expatriates evolve. Elizabeth Knup, Beijingbased China chief representative for Pearson, the publisher that owns Penguin Books, the Financial Times, and Pearson Education, describes “a shift toward a sense that neither foreign investment nor expatriates are so necessary to China’s development. We aren’t courted like we once were.” The financial crisis, and China’s relatively rapid recovery, has accelerated this shift. As a result, the bar for expatriates is rising. “I’m the tail-end of a generation that thrived as China generalists,” Knup says. She studied Chinese in college, worked in educational and cultural exchange, then jumped into business, landing her “first senior China business post without being able to read a balance sheet.” Knup laughs. “That wouldn’t happen today.” Shanghai-based veteran China expatriate—and certified executive coach—Angie Eagan agrees. “China jobs once competed with openings in markets seen as ‘sexier,’ as well as with careers at headquarters.” Companies once had to recruit hard to get expatriates to accept China posts, and a legacy of economic isolation meant not enough Chinese were qualified for senior jobs. Today, stellar economic growth has made “China the sexy destination.” “The subtext has changed,” agrees Michael Zhu, director of global PLM field operations for 3Com, who divides his time between Boston and Beijing. “Before, expatriates were seen as bringing business to China, helping China grow. Now, we see expats as coming to China to help 40 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

Increasingly, companies seeking to grow in China also understand that they need Chinese-national managers. U.S.-born would-be expatriates today are competing with both haigui and, increasingly, local Chinese. their careers, as needing China.” China-born, Zhu studied and worked in the United States before becoming a “returnee.” Today, he is one of the globally-mobile Chinese that contemporary slang calls haigui, or “sea turtles”—Chinese nationals with global educations and experience who travel the world before returning home.

Localization Increasingly, companies seeking to grow in China also understand that they need Chinese-national managers. U.S.-born would-be expatriates today are competing with both haigui and, increasingly, local Chinese.

“Most MNCs in China are localizing,” says Swiss-born Nicolas Musy, a long-term Shanghai expatriate who built textile ventures before launching CH-ina ( integrated China entry/operations solutions. “It makes sense, and not just for cost-cutting. It’s impossible for expats to know as much about China’s people and market as local Chinese. Plus, hiring and promoting local Chinese into senior positions is also key for retention,” said Musy. The latter point is crucial. Chinese nationals today have high and growing career expectations. If they are not promoted regularly, or if they perceive glass ceilings on jobs for Chinese, they will jump ship. The result is in the numbers. Of the more than 500 people working at Pearson China today, Knup says, all but two are Chinese. Zhu notes that 3Com’s global success grew from its China approach. The company’s distinctive “China Out” strategy “has included bringing the CEO seat to China, along with 4,000 of the company’s 6,000 global jobs,” most staffed by Chinese. Similar trends in many companies (accelerated by post-crisis cost-cutting) have meant fewer China hires of both Westerners and “regional expatriates” from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Five years ago, regional expatriates got many senior China MNC positions because they were seen as having global educations, English skills, and exposure to global business, while also speaking Chinese. Now, MNCs know more about cultural differences within Chinese culture, and more local people have the necessary skills. So many more positions are going to nativeborn Chinese.

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Even haigui are not guaranteed good jobs anymore. “So many Chinese have gone abroad,” Zhu says. “People realize we aren’t all elite leaders. Haigui today need not just education but experience to differentiate themselves from top-tier domestic university graduates. This is a huge change.” Haigui also tread fine lines with local colleagues. As Zhu says, “we haigui must blend in, and not look arrogant.”

Tighter Competition Growing competition, domestic and global, for posts that once went automatically to Westerners means China increasingly is what Knup calls a “bifurcated job market” for expatriates. China still appreciates, and seeks to emulate, the creative and other ben-

efits of an American education, and values having native English-speakers on the team, so plenty of entry-level jobs welcome young Americans willing to work cheap in return for experience. There also still are senior posts for skilled Western expatriates. But many mid-level expatriate jobs are disappearing and, for senior postings, expectations are sky-high. “Westerners can still succeed in China,” Eagan says. “There is still a shortage of globally-qualified Chinese managers experienced enough to have good judgment, so there’s a balancing act for companies seeking to avoid glass ceilings, to promote in ways that add value to the company without creating risk. Expats can fill that gap.” Eagan expects more expatriate positions to

reopen as China’s economy continues to recover and companies expand. Although localization may appear to move two-steps-forward, onestep-back, it is clearly progressing. “Expats who are good managers are still respected,” Musy says. “But expats without unique skills increasingly compete with local Chinese in all areas, including pay.” That latter point is not wholly grim; rapidly rising salaries for skilled Chinese, revalued Chinese currency (RMB), and devalued dollars mean many Chinese managers already make more than you may think. Still, the cushy expatriate packages of yesteryear, with lavish housing, travel, entertainment allowances, and other perks are long gone for most


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expatriates, partly because things such as high-housing allowances can cause friction with local managers who do not get them. While most expatriate packages still include some housing and other allowances to reduce tax exposure, many focus mainly on salary. So, yes, China opportunities remain, but the bar is rising. Succeeding—and especially earning world-class pay—in China today requires truly stand-out performance.

Standing Out In these competitive times Chinabound expatriates—and the companies and programs that want them to succeed—must focus on core dos and don’ts: • Do listen actively to Chinese counterparts, to what they say— and do not say. Silences in China can be golden, and can speak volumes. Listen before speaking. Watch body language. Be thoughtful. Ask questions that show genuine interest in your Chinese colleagues, their hopes and dreams as well as their ideas. • Do prepare to work hard. A standard expatriate joke is that completing an eight-hour shift in China means finishing a half-day. Chinese staff on the whole work hard and productively. Given higher costs, expatriates must keep up and be better. • Do socialize with Chinese colleagues. Americans often start out assuming the best about new colleagues. Chinese tend not to trust newcomers until they prove themselves. New expatriates begin proving themselves via hard work and careful listening. They gain real trust by making time. As Zhu points out, in China, having dinner with colleagues to celebrate small successes or discuss 42 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

Today, he is one of the globally mobile Chinese that contemporary slang calls Haigui, or “sea turtles”—Chinese nationals with global educations and experience who travel the world before returning home. new ideas is common, Colleagues often spend leisure time together, go hiking or to karaoke. “Expats may need to go outside their comfort zone to be accepted, and effective.” • Do become a mentor. Chinese respect teachers, including expatriates who come prepared to share what they know. A key role for Western expatriates is providing guidance on Western markets, management, and perspectives to Chinese who have not yet worked abroad. Focus on enabling learning and growth for the colleagues under your guidance, and you and your company will thrive. • Do show an interest in Chinese culture and language. Those of us who arrived in China flu-

ent in Chinese have advantages, but even fledgling efforts pay off. When Americans speak even a little Chinese, or show basic knowledge of Chinese history, or enjoy vacation time in China, it changes the dynamic with Chinese counterparts. Making an effort to understand China opens doors. • Do accept that you will never be the China expert that your local colleagues are. Your job is not to know everything about the market, but to unlock the knowledge of your Chinese colleagues. When you create a learning and sharing culture in the office, you mobilize local expertise, helping the company and yourself. • Do work to educate headquarters. Headquarters visitors may bristle at taking local staff out for karaoke, or having drinks or dinner with Chinese customers or regulators. Such outreach is crucial, however, and pays dividends over time. In fact, one key reason for large MNCs to bring expatriates to China is political, bringing people with strong links at headquarters to China so the China team’s voice can be heard. As you learn, teach others back home what China requires for success. • Do constantly refresh your industry knowledge. Expatriates must be bridges for Chinese colleagues eager to learn about new markets, technology, and opportunities overseas. You owe your team knowledge that is current and useful. • Do understand how rapidly China changes, and be prepared to update your approach as necessary, including as needed by adapting these dos and don’ts. • Don’t assume knowing Western markets or technology makes you an expert in China. Politics, history, culture, and eco-

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nomics make China’s market very different from ours. Technology also may be different and more advanced than you expect. Knup notes that many Chinese, right or wrong, acknowledge America’s lead on things like rockets and cars, while seeing that lead as narrowing, but see China as equal or ahead on things like webbased computing. Expatriates must acknowledge that perspective. • Don’t accept stereotypes. China is transforming rapidly. Beware of outdated ideas. • Don’t allow yourself to come across as arrogant. Chinese are both face-conscious and increasingly selfconfident. Expatriates appearing arrogant or unappreciative of China or Chinese colleagues can end up isolated and ineffective.

• Don’t have unrealistic expectations, especially regarding benefits. • Don’t isolate yourself among Westerners in China. This limits learning doubly, by reducing chances to interact with the Chinese people, and potentially positioning you as arrogant. Even if your package allows it, be wary of exclusive apartment complexes or clubs haunted mostly by Westerners. • Don’t denigrate China’s goals. As China grows in self-confidence, respectful but honest conversations with Chinese colleagues on hotbutton issues like Tibet, Taiwan, and human rights are increasingly possible—and helpful. But such conversations require deep knowledge, diplomacy, and restraint to be effective. Zhu advises new expatriates to

avoid controversies altogether. “You never know who may be listening, what their real opinion is, or how your comments might get distorted.” • Don’t ever stop learning. China is changing so rapidly that today’s keen market insights can be stone useless next week. Take this flexible, listening-centered approach, and you can still succeed as a China expatriate, strengthening your career, your colleagues, and your company. China growth, in turn, can empower global company success, strengthening career opportunities for when you return home. Rebecca Weiner was a China expatriate for 12 years, working in business development, HR, PR, and government relations. She currently is a freelance China consultant in New Haven, CT. She can be reached at +1 203 397 1602 or e-mail

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On a Wing and a Paw—

Moving Pets to Asia Pacific

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Farris outlines what it takes to move our furry, feathered, and scaled friends to the Asia-Pacific region.



hen the Peelman family learned they would be transferred to Hong Kong, like many pet owners faced with a similar situation, one of the first questions on their minds was “what about our dogs?” Bridget and Greg Peelmans’ two dogs—Stella, a pint-sized Rat Terrier, and Gracie, a ginger-colored Boxer mix—are active members of the family, accompanying them and their eight-month-old daughter on evening walks and appearing in family Christmas photos wearing Santa hats. But when Bridget Peelman first started researching moving to and living in Hong Kong with pets, she quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of information—and misinformation—available online. “My searches found that Asia was not pet-friendly,” Peelman remembers. “I read that dogs have a hard


time adapting and that it’s not a good quality of life for them.” Peelman also struggled to make sense of the often confusing import requirements for moving pets internationally. Despite these concerns, the decision was not even a choice for Peelman and her family. “There was no way we were leaving our girls behind,” says Peelman.

Planning Ahead While household goods might be able to be shipped at a moment’s notice, transporting pets typically requires additional planning time. As a general rule, rabies shots must be given at least 30 days prior to the target departure to avoid delays. Many countries in Asia also require import permits be issued prior to pets being allowed entry. These permits can take anywhere from three to four weeks to obtain, depending on

the amount of other pet owners also requesting entry into the country. Advance planning also can help reduce waiting time for pets entering certain countries that have long quarantine periods. For example, Japan is a rabies-free country and requires pets to undergo a blood test and sixmonth quarantine on arrival. However, pet owners can fulfill the blood test and 180-day quarantine at their own home if they begin planning at least six months in advance. This not only means a happier pet and owner—it also can make the difference between tens of thousands of dollars worth of government quarantine expenses. For companies whose mobility policies include pet quarantine, allowing pet owners to wait six months prior to transfer can reduce overall pet moving costs significantly.

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IMPORT REQUIREMENTS This chart is a basic overview of the import requirements for dogs and cats moving from the United States to major Asia-Pacific destinations. Destination Country

Valid Rabies Vaccination* Required

Microchip Required

Quarantine Required

Import Permit Required

Hong Kong













7 to 14 days





180 days***


South Korea








7 days (Mainland) 180 days (Borneo)










10 to 30 days





180 days*** Plus 21 days mandatory quarantine in a government facility on arrival.










Depends on the city****







* A “Valid Rabies Vaccination” is defined as any rabies shot given within one year but more than 30 days prior to the pet’s move date. ** While microchips are not required by the destination country’s government for pets to be imported into these countries, strongly recommends microchipping all pets prior to international travel to ensure the correct identification of pets. *** Quarantine must be completed in either a government facility on arrival or can be done at the pet owner’s home after an appropriate blood test prior to import. **** Individual cities in China determine the amount of quarantine time for pets. Check with a pet mobility specialist prior to import.

Because of the varying nuances in import regulations, many transferring pet owners choose to hire professional moving services for their pets. The increase in this practice reflects a growing industry trend of companies catering to employees’ pet-related needs. According to Atlas Van Lines’ 2009 “Corporate Relocation Survey,” 32 percent of companies now reimburse or pay to ship a family pet, a 3 percent increase from 2008. “I certainly could not have managed without the support of the pet trans48 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

portation company I hired,” Peelman reflects. “There’s a lot that goes into making sure the pets are cared for on both ends of the transport.” The positive experience Peelman had moving her pets not only ensured her dogs’ safe arrival in Hong Kong but also helped ease her initial worries. “I wish I had known how seamless the process was going to be,” Peelman said. “It takes a great amount of stress off the move to know that your beloved pets will be in great care each step of the way.”

Accepting the Culture Even with professionals taking care of the logistics, pet owners often struggle with concerns about whether their pets’ lifestyles will be affected by living in Asia. Moving from a home in the suburbs with a fenced-in backyard to a high-rise tower in Singapore or Malaysia can mean a lot of trips down the elevator when it is time for Fido to go outside. Failing to understand local rules—such as Singapore requiring certain “aggressive” breeds of dogs

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to be muzzled when in public—also can cause pet owners undue stress, not to mention hefty fines. However, circumstances sometimes also can be better than expected. “My biggest surprise about Hong Kong was how easy it was [to own dogs there],� said Peelman, who has since relocated from Hong Kong to Shanghai, China. “The area we lived in, Stanley, was really dog-friendly— you always saw dogs out walking and there’s a beach they’re free to run on.� Peelman’s experience living with dogs in China has not been entirely the same. “Here in Shanghai, the rules are very strict and it’s not a dog-friendly culture,� Peelman explains. “In parts of the city it is advised that pets are only walked at certain times of the day.� In these scenarios, many pet owners prefer to live in expatriate communities, which tend to provide parks and open areas specifically for pets to roam freely. “We opted to live in a housing compound [in Shanghai],� Peelman explained. “Because we have a bit of a yard for them, we don’t often walk them on the street.� “Culture shock can happen with any move, whether it’s down the street or around the world,� said Matt Kincaid, director of operations and client services at “However, particularly with international moves, pet owners should be aware that for a little while after the move, things will be different for them and their pets.� Cats used to roaming the great outdoors might need to be kept inside, and finding that special type of dog food might prove impossible. Kincaid suggests setting realistic expectations—for example, knowing that you might have to change your pet’s brand of

food if you are living in the middle of Laos—and reaching out to other pet lovers in your new region to help with the transition. Once familiar with the region, Asia-Pacific expatriates often are surprised by the amount of pet-friendly events and services available. In Malaysia, an annual Malaysia Dog Day is held at the Chin Woo Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. The event is sponsored by Purina and includes “Olympic challenges� such as weave poles, musical chairs, and agility trials. All dogs are invited to attend and the Malaysian government even gets in on the fun by offering a police K-9 unit demonstration and microchipping services. FurrPurr, in Bangkok, Thailand, is a store and boarding facility dedicated entirely to cats— proving that even felines can receive first-class treatment in Asia.

Making a House a Home Many expatriatess who decide to move their pets to the Asia-Pacific region initially struggle with concerns about how their pets’ quality of life will be affected, in addition to how to handle the logistics of transporting pets overseas. Knowing both the regulations and the culture can make all the difference in making sure a new life overseas does not turn into a mad dash back home. In the end, most pet lovers find having their pets with them to be the most important thing, regardless of where they might be living. “We’re all together as a family and their tails are wagging happily,� says Peelman. “It takes a few months to feel settled but it’s all worth it to have them here with you.� Rachel Farris is director of PR and new media at, Austin, TX. She can be reached at +1 512 264 9800 or e-mail





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BY NINO NELISSEN, GMS, AND MONIQUE DISSELDORP MOBILITY frequently has addressed the issue of social security in the European Union. Nelissen and Disseldorp address a new directive to the social security regime and the significant changes it means to international employees and their employers.


he European Union (EU) is not the United States of Europe. Social security is an area where this becomes particularly visible. Each country within the EU has its own social security legislation. Cost to employer, employee benefits, and conditions to qualify for certain benefits differ significantly between various member states. Within the EU, directive 1408/71 determines which social security regime applies in case of international employees in Europe. This directive determines which legislation applies in case of international mobility within the EU and Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Directive 1408/71 will be replaced by directive 883/04, most


likely as of May 1, 2010. The main purpose of the new directive 883/04 is to simplify the regulations and to make it easier for citizens to exercise their right to move freely in the EU by guaranteeing that they are not disadvantaged in terms of social security. This new directive 883/04 has significant consequences for international employees and their employers. The new EU regime for the coordination of social security schemes will cause major changes. The following addresses the most important changes.

International Assignment Employees. Currently under directive 1408/71, the period during which an employee can remain eligi-

ble for the social security scheme of his or her country of residence while he or she is on assignment abroad, based on the general assignment article, is equal to 12 months. In the case of an assignment extension caused by unforeseen circumstances, the employee can remain eligible for the social security scheme of his or her country of residence while he or she is on assignment for another maximum of 12 months. In case the employee will be assigned abroad for more than one year, it is possible by mutual agreement of the authorities (home and host) to remain eligible for the social security scheme of his or her country of residence. This is possible for the maximum period of five years.

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In about two years member states will be obliged to exchange their data electronically. Until then, data sharing by means of paper still will exist. Because of that, the E-101 declaration can be mailed electronically or can be mailed in paper for the next two years. Under the new directive 883/04 the employee can remain eligible for the social security scheme of his or her country of residence during the assignment for the maximum period of 24 months. This means that the application for a 24-month assignment no longer will require the intervention from the social security authorities of the host country. The mutual agreement procedure (the procedure to apply for a longer period) also is applicable under the new directive 883/04. Also, the main conditions for assignment remain unchanged. For the sake of completeness, we note that the mutual agreement procedure under which an employee can remain covered by his or her home country social security system for a maximum period of five years will

remain applicable under the new directive. Another important difference between both regulations can be found where an individual works in multiple countries, including his or her country of residence. Under the existing directive, the individual will remain covered by his or her home country social security scheme when working for at least one day a month in his or her home country. Under the new directive, the minimum percentage of time spent (or income earned) in his or her home country amounts to 25 percent. Self employed. The rules for assigning self-employed persons are more strict in the new directive 883/04. Under the new directive 883/04, a person is considered to be assigned when the self-employed per-

son performs the same activities in his or her country of residence and in his or her host country (assignment country). In case the performed activities in the country of residence and the host country are not the same, the selfemployed person is not assigned.

Employees Working in Road, Water, or Air Traffic Directive 1408/71 contains special provisions that apply to individuals working in water, road, and air traffic. As a result, clear rules applied to individuals who were working in these specific industries. The new directive 883/04 does not contain a specific article dealing with such individuals. As a consequence, in some cases, it can become quite difficult to establish the social security regulations that apply.



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It is important to note that the rules of directive 1408/71 will continue to apply with regard to third-country nationals, as the new regulation

Subject to One Social Security Scheme

will apply only to them after the

Under the directive 1408/71 that is currently applicable, we see a difference in interpretation of certain activities, especially those of directors of a company. Some countries consider such activities as self-employed activities, whereas others consider them dependent services. As a result of this difference in interpretation, based on directive 1408/71, it was possible that such individual was subject to the social security schemes of two member states. Under the new directive 883/04, the employee will be subject to the social security scheme of just one member state. In general, the employee is subject to the social security scheme of the country where he or she performs his or her employment activities.

EU members states have agreed to enlarge the scope of application to that extent.

As an example to illustrate this dilemma, imagine a Belgian airline employs a resident of Germany. When the schedule of this individual puts him on flights between, say, Brussels and Berlin, he likely will spend at least 25 percent of his working time in Germany, and thus become covered by the German social security system. When his employer reassigns him to flights between Brussels and Madrid, he will be covered by the Belgian social security system. It becomes an employer’s responsibility to keep track of where the individual spent his working time and take appropriate action when changes in working pattern result in a change in applicable social security legislation.

Performing Employment Activities in More than One Member State Under directive 1408/71, in the case of simultaneous employment activities in several member states, the employee is subject to the social security scheme of his or her country of residence if he or she performs part of 54 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

their home country social security system. This change in particular can affect the social security obligations of many employees working in one member state and living in another, and employers as well.

his or her activities in the country of residence. In general, if the employee works just one day per month on a regular basis in his or her country of residence, he or she will remain subject to the social security scheme of the country of residence. Therefore, this rule often was used by individuals who work in a different state than their country of residence to establish that they could remain covered by their home country social security scheme as working there for at least one day is sufficient to establish coverage by the home country social security scheme. Under directive 883/04, an employee will be subject only to the social security scheme of his or her country of residence in case he or she performs a substantial part of his or her activities in the country of residence. “Substantial� activities are defined as 25 percent or more of the working time or remuneration. Consequently, it will become much more complicated for international employees to establish being covered by

Electronic Data Sharing Member states increasingly use electronic data sharing of the necessary documents between the relevant authorities. In this way the directive 883/04 can be used more effectively. The new directive 883/04 will implement a new system of electronic data sharing between member states. In about two years member states will be obliged to exchange their data electronically. Until then, data sharing by means of paper still will exist. Because of that, the E-101 declaration can be mailed electronically or can be mailed in paper for the next two years.

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Transitory Rules During a transitory period of about 10 years, the directive 1408/71 will continue to exist. Employees and self-employed persons can request to remain subject to directive 1408/71 for another 10 years if the facts and circumstances have not changed. However, when the new directive 883/04 is more beneficial, those employees and self-employed persons also can request to apply for the new rules. In determining into which system one contributes, the voice of the employee is most important. This may cause some serious issues for employers, as they often are the ones that will be facing higher social security costs because of the election by the employee.

The provisions of directive 1408/71 also will continue to apply in relation to Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland, as agreements with those countries still have to be concluded with regard to the application of directive 883/04 for workers moving within the EEA and Switzerland. It is important to note that the rules of directive 1408/71 will continue to apply with regard to thirdcountry nationals, as the new regulation will apply to them only after the EU members states have agreed to enlarge the scope of application to that extent.

Forewarned Is Forearmed The application of directive 883/04 may require companies to

revise the social security situation of their “international� employees. It is strongly recommended to take a close look at those cases that can be affected by the new directive, and to communicate the various pros and cons with the individuals. Also, companies may have to adapt their existing policies and compliance processes to ensure compliance with the new legislation. Nino Nelissen, GMS, is managing director of Executive Mobility Group, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and a member of the MOBILITY Global Editorial Advisory Committee. He can be reached at +31 20405 4750 or e-mail Monique Disseldorp is an immigration lawyer for Executive Mobility Group, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She can be reached at +31 20405 4750 or e-mail monique.disseldorp@


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The Successful Global Presenter:

Seven Steps to Develop Your Cultural Agility


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In today’s global economy, all companies, from Fortune 100 powerhouses to small businesses, look internationally for opportunities to grow. Underhill says that with so much at stake, presenters who represent these companies often feel tremendous pressure to succeed, so they must understand the impact that cultural differences have on how they communicate if they want to be effective.



uccessful global presenters demonstrate “cultural agility.” They understand the mindsets and expectations that people in different cultures have about communication, relationships, conflict, and other aspects of conducting business. And they know how to use this knowledge to adjust their presentation content and approach to fit their audience. If you are someone who currently presents to international audiences, or anticipates that you will in the future, the following seven steps will help you improve your cultural agility and increase the impact of your presentations. Target your information to the culture of your audience. Use examples, case studies, and scenarios that are relevant to the geographic region and culture of your audience. Sharing a case study about a U.S. company’s success may not be relevant to or credible with an audience in Germany. Find a local example that helps you get your point across. If you can, contact someone from your audience’s culture or someone who has presented in that culture before. They can give you ideas on how to target your presentation content.



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Use analogies, metaphors, and themes specific to the culture. If you want to use a sports analogy in India, cricket is more relevant than baseball. When you have a mix of cultures in your audience, think of broader themes with which everyone can relate. I recently saw an executive deliver a speech to salespeople from around the world. He created a navigation theme to describe the challenging economic environment. The overall market conditions were “rough seas.” Each sales office was a “ship and crew” serving different “ports” or customers. Everyone understood the analogy and they were on board with his plan. Provide your presentation content to the audience in advance. This gives them time to review your content prior to the presentation, which is important if they need to understand complex concepts or detailed information. Highlight important questions and issues so audience members have time to prepare their thoughts. They also can give you feedback on how to communicate your ideas more effectively, even before you present. Adjust how you interact with the audience. Audiences participate in different ways across cultures. Some are very engaged and open to participating in exercises and question and answer sessions, while others are more reserved. Provide options for dialogue and feedback, as speaking up in a public format may not fit every culture. Have audience members send you questions in advance to help you open the dialogue. You also can set aside time after the pre-




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Check! sentation to take questions privately from individual audience members. Connect with your audience before and after the presentation. In many cultures, much of the discussion and decision-making occurs outside of the formal presentation. So, as you plan for your presentation, think about how you can educate and influence people before you speak and what you might need to do afterward to continue the conversation with the audience. Modify your nonverbal communication. Some cultures are quite animated and appreciate hand gestures and an energetic delivery, while others expect speakers to remain calm. Talk with someone from your audience’s culture before you present, so your delivery does not distract people from what you are saying. For example, some cultures such as German, Australian, and American consider direct and extended eye contact a sign of confidence and sincerity. Others, including Japanese, Native American, and Hispanic cultures may find it disrespectful and an



invasion of personal space. One tip: notice how much eye contact people give you, and then match that level. Pause... for your audience and yourself. When speaking to people whose first language is different than yours, it is important to use pauses to give them time to absorb (and possibly translate) what you have just said. Pausing also gives you time to think about what you want to say—to select the right words and pronounce them clearly. Speak in short “sound bites” of complete sentences or short statements. This is especially important when using a translator during your presentation. In summary, when it comes to presenting on the global stage, cultural agility matters. If you take the time to tailor your content and approach to the culture of your audience, you will reap the rewards of clear communication and positive business relationships far into the future.


Dave Underhill, president of Underhill Training and Development, Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, is a global presentation trainer and coach. He can be reached at +1 503 234 2780, +1 800 727 3870, or e-mail

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An Innovative Approach to Tax Equalization for Non-U.S. Employees It has long been acceptable common practice for multinational organizations with United States headquarters to use tax equalization programs to ease the burden of higher taxes among their expatriates. The challenge increases substantially when these same organizations try to create comparable programs for their expatriates who originate from other countries. Krupp writes that for organizations that must address personal tax issues of employees from a multitude of home-based countries, a potential solution to employ is equalizing the tax burden of these employees to a standard tax table.

B Y N E I L B . K R U P P, C M C



-based global companies most typically employ tax equalization programs to soften the potentially detrimental effects of higher taxes on their expatriate employee populations. These same companies, however, face complex issues when they attempt to develop comparable programs for expatriates originating from other countries. An alternative approach and potential solution to these issues involves equalizing the tax burden of said employees to a standard tax table that reflects the taxing characteristics of the home-based countries represented by their company’s global operations. Prior to further defining this concept, let us explore the problems and objectives of a typical global organization that must address personal tax issues of employees from many different homebased countries.

Background Historically, surveys on this subject, certainly those from the Institute of Management Consulting, have continued to validate the fact that tax equalization in one form or another is the preferred choice for tax reimbursement programs of U.S.-based expatriate employees. A number of factors caused this significant shift away from the dominance of tax protection plans of the 1980s and 1990s. The fact that the basis for both protection and equalization focus on U.S. federal, state, (and possibly local) taxes made it convenient for companies wishing to change to do so.

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On the other hand, however, those same studies reflected the fact that neither tax equalization nor tax protection programs were clearly dominant among programs for non-U.S. expatriate employees. In fact, on average, one-fourth of companies surveyed had failed to establish any formal tax reimbursement plan for that classification of employee.

The Non-U.S. Employee Issue Over time, as the number of tax equalization plans have increased and with global organizations employing a growing number of non-U.S. nationals in their workforce, equitable tax treatment for nationals serving outside their home countries in the capacity of expatriates has become an increasingly pressing problem (For the purpose of this article, non-U.S. employees are classified in either of two categories: third-country nationals (TCNs), who are non-U.S. individuals working for a U.S. corporation hired in their home country and subsequently transferred to yet a third country; and international employees (IEs), who are non-U.S. individuals hired in a country other than their home country to work in that country and treated other than a local national.). For illustrative purposes, read the following hypothetical approach one company has to this issue.

A Case Study: Company Objectives To ensure compliance with home/host-country tax laws and at the direction of executive management, Company X transitioned from a former tax protection policy to one 62 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

of tax equalization for its U.S. expatriate employees. Once having completed this implementation, Company X turned its attention to that of developing a similar reimbursement program for its TCNs and IEs. Company X reasoned that the new program should be based on adopted philosophies behind the U.S. program, which included the following principles: 1. The concept of “no loss or gain” should adhere. 2. Both Company X- and nonCompany X-derived income would be addressed in the equalization computation. 3. Company X-derived income specifically related to an overseas assignment (premiums, allowances, and the like) would be treated as “tax free” to the employee; that is, the company would reimburse the employee for any taxes that might be payable on said income. 4. Employees at the same income level and family status should have equivalent after-tax income while on assignment in the host country. 5. Foreign tax obligations would be a neutral factor for any employee considering deployment. 6. Tax-return preparation services would be provided by an international tax firm and be mandatory for all employees covered by the program. A principal difficulty in designing such a program was the selection of a foundation for determining each employee’s hypothetical tax liability. The previously referenced surveys revealed two frequently used alternatives: 1. U.S. tax laws; or 2. tax laws of the employee’s home country.

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When considering the wide variety of countries from which Company X expatriated its employees, the application of U.S. tax laws—although administratively appealing— was deemed arbitrary and without foundation. When compared with many homecountry tax rates, U.S. rates were significantly more favorable. However, compared with a number of other host countries, U.S. tax rates were significantly higher— mainly attributed to various concessions granted expatriate employees working in those countries. Although use of U.S. tax rates would achieve the desired uniformity, employee acceptance and understanding appeared doubtful among a population that had no tax point of reference to the United States. Applying the employee’s homecountry tax laws as the basis for this hypothetical computation posed inherent problems, as well. Differences in varying home-country tax laws would result in differing hypothetical tax amounts for employees who had identical positions, salaries, and assignment conditions but varying home countries. This concept conflicted with one of Company X’s previously stated goals (reference principle 4). Use of home-country tax rates and regulations also would serve to further complicate administration of the program. For example, a French citizen working in Singapore would require preparation of a pro forma French tax return before the company could determine the extent of his or her hypothetical tax liability. While centralizing administration of the program would simplify the process to some extent, continual monitoring

and updating of the various tax calculations would be necessary as each nation’s tax laws changed. Thus, this alternative appeared unduly burdensome.

Composite Hypothetical Tax Table Having identified problems associated with the two alternatives most commonly used by other global organizations, Company X decided to explore a new basis for equalizing taxes of its TCNs and IEs. Initially, it examined its TCNs’ and IEs’ current tax situation. As it had no formal tax reimbursement program for these employees, Company X, in effect, caused them to pay whatever personal income and social insurance taxes the host country imposed. Thus, Company X theorized that it could justifiably look to the various hostcountry tax structures rather than the home countries’ in developing its approach. Employees in any given host country could readily identify with their current tax obligations. Further examination revealed that the vast majority of Company X’s TCNs and IEs currently were expatriated from or serving in a defined number of locations. Furnished with this information and recognizing that the use of any one country’s tax rates would be unacceptable to a majority of its employees, Company X pursued the concept of a composite tax country reflecting the characteristics and demographics of their host and home countries and formulated a resulting tax table. As the first step in developing this table, individual tax tables for each identified country and for all applicable income levels and family sizes were developed. In their developMOBILITY/MARCH 2010 63

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ment, consideration was given to any concessions made available to qualified expatriate employees. Initially computed in local currency, tables subsequently were converted to U.S. dollars at the average annual exchange rate as reported by the Federal Reserve Board. Tables were averaged, giving equal weight to each country which, in turn, resulted in a composite income tax table representing the rules, regulations, and tax rates of each of the base countries (Figure 1). Recognizing that employee demographics,

tax laws, exchange rates, or any number of other factors could change from year to year, Company X periodically would revise the composite tax table to reflect these changes. The revision process would begin with an analysis of employee concentration by country. Those countries reflecting significant numbers of the company’s TCNs and IEs would be included in the composite table for that revision. The individual country tax tables comprising the composite table would be developed periodically

based on the rules, regulations, and tax laws in effect for the time frame covered.

Elements of Income Company X’s policy would define and provide examples for each of the various classes of income established within the policy. It should be noted, though, that the determination of whether an individual item of income, loss, or adjustment would appear in the employee’s tax equalization computation depended on two things: first, treatment under the company’s policy and, second, taxation in the employee’s host

Figure 1 Tax Tables in U.S. Dollars for Composite Hypothetical Tax (Listed by Actual Dollar Amount) Monthly Income Husband and Wife plus One Dependent

Husband and Wife plus Two Dependents

Husband and Wife plus Three Dependents

























































2000. 2100.








2100. 2200.








2200. 2300.








2300. 2400.








At Least

Less Than







200. 300.

Husband and Wife

* Note 1:

Monthly tax X months overseas Composite tax

$ 388 12 4,565

** Note 2:

Monthly tax X months overseas Tax reduction

$ 329 12 3,948


Husband and Wife plus Four Dependents

Husband and Wife plus Five Dependents

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country. Thus, the employee would incur a hypothetical composite tax on all company-derived earned income and no tax on any foreign service-related premiums, allowances, and the like. Only those noncompany income items and adjustments that appear on the employee’s host-country return would be subject to the hypothetical composite tax. Company X used the following terminology for tax equalization purposes: Company-derived earned income. Base salary (including overtime) paid during host-country assignment (before hypothetical tax reductions discussed later), incentive payments, income from company stock options, and distributions from employee benefit plans. Overseas assignment-related income. All overseas allowances, company reimbursement for taxes, company reimbursement for outside tax return services, and moving expenses. Non-company income (includes both employee’s and spouse’s income excluding spouse’s wages from other sources). Dividends, interest, tax shelters, rental income, and capital gains or losses. Adjustments to income. Any adjustments permitted by hostcountry law and not contemplated by the composite hypothetical tax table.

Covered Taxes On computation of the hypothetical composite tax, it would be compared with the total covered taxes paid for that year. The determination of whether a tax paid by an employee was covered under the policy largely depended on the “character” of the particular tax.

Income taxes paid either to the employee’s host country or, if required, to one’s home country on income earned while on host-country assignment typically would be covered. However, this may not always be the case. Should an employee be obligated to pay taxes on income not related to his or her foreign assignment—such as withholding taxes on dividends from third-country investments—such taxes were not covered for tax equalization purposes and, thus, would not enter

into the reimbursement computation. Other taxes attributable to the assignment—such as host-country social security taxes, wealth taxes, church taxes, or other social benefit taxes—would be fully reimbursed by the company, therefore, the total amount of taxes reflecting those characteristics are covered for tax equalization purposes. Another procedural feature of the policy is that of a hypothetical tax

Figure 2

Individual’s Income and Tax (H & W +2 dependents) Actual Based on Hostcountry Return

Actual Under Program

Composite Hypothetical Income Tax

Wages-Employee Base Salary







Overseas Allowances and Premium




Other Income (Loss) Dividends Interest Total Gross Income Adjustments Adjusted Gross Income Tax

500 1,500 53,000 0 53,000 3,500

500 1,500 53,000 0 53,000 3,500

500 1,500 28,000 0 53,000 4,656 *

Incentive Award

Employee’s Share Actual Host-country Income Tax (Under Program) Actual Home-country Tax Total Actual Composite Hypothetical Tax Lesser of Actual or Hypothetical Total Employee’s Share (Transitional Year) Transitional Allowance 1. Composite Hypothetical Tax 2. Actual Worldwide Tax Under Program a. Host-country Income Tax b. Home-country Income Tax c. Other Income Tax d. Total Worldwide Income Tax 3. Traditional Allowance

3,500 None 3,500 4,656* 3,500 3,500 4,656 *

3,500 1,156

* See Figure 1, Note 1.


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Figure 3

Individual’s Income and Tax (H & W +2 dependents) Actual Based on Hostcountry Return

Actual Under Program

Composite Hypothetical Income Tax

Wages-Employee Base Salary Incentive Award Hypothetical Tax Reduction on Base Salary Incentive Award** Overseas Allowances and Premium Transition Allowance Other Income (Loss) Dividends Interest Total Gross Income Adjustments Adjusted Gross Income Tax









Not applicable

25,000 1,156

25,000 1,156

Not applicable

500 1,500 52,208 0 50,208 3,000

500 1,500 52,208 0 50,208 3,000

Employee’s Share** Actual Host-country Income Tax (Under Program) Actual Home-country Tax Total Actual Composite Hypothetical Tax Total Employees’s Share Less: Transitional Annual Allowance Received Net Employee’s Cost


500 1,500 52,208 0 50,208 4,656 * 3,000 None 3,000 4,656* 4,656 1,156 3,500*

* See Figure 1, (Note 1) * See Figure 1, (Note 2) ** Composite hypothetical tax offset by transitional allowance plus any amount not covered by the program.

reduction—that is, a reduction of the employee’s base salary and applicable incentive awards earned while on deployment equal to the hypothetical tax on such income. This reduction is computed through use of the composite hypothetical tax table. These reductions would commence in the year following the year in which the policy was instituted, i.e., the year following the year of transition.

Grandfathering: the Transitional Allowance As Company X prepared to institute its new tax reimbursement policy, it was keenly aware of the 66 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

sentiments of those employees who currently were based in host countries with low income tax rates, and who would, therefore, be adversely affected by the new program while recognizing that prior to this policy change, TCNs and IEs were “on their own” with respect to both the filing and payment of personal income taxes. Therefore, those employees whose hypothetical composite tax was determined to be greater than their actual home/ host obligations were provided with specific concessions. Two such concessions for employees on assignment in the year of transition were:

1. In computing the hypothetical tax in the year of transition only, employees were entitled to use the lesser of their hypothetical composite tax based on the table or his or her actual worldwide income taxes. Thus, for the transition year, employees would pay no additional taxes under the new policy. 2. During subsequent years following the year of transition, those employees whose actual worldwide income taxes were less than the computed hypothetical composite tax for the transitional year would receive an annual transition allowance equal to that difference. This allowance would terminate only if and when the TCNs or IEs were reassigned to another country or repatriated to their home country. Equal installments of the transitional allowance would be payable per each payroll cycle and would serve, at least in part, to offset the effect of the corresponding hypothetical tax reduction on company-derived earned income. An illustration of the program in action during both the transitional year and the year following is illustrated in Figures 2, 3, and 4. In the example, all actual taxes and actual taxes under the program are assumed. Family status is assumed to be “married, with two dependents.”

Implementation Having developed a tax equalization policy for its TCNs and IEs, Company X faced its final task— implementation. To accomplish this goal, Company X representatives scheduled a series of presentations at strategic locations globally to which all affected employees were invited.

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Figure 4

Employee Reimbursement 1. Composite Hypothetical Income Tax (from Table) 2. a. Host-country Income Tax Withheld b. Host-country Estimated Income Tax Payments Made c. Tax Due on Host-country Return (Under Program) d. Less: Refund Reflected on Host-country Return (Under Program) e. Duplicative Host-country Social Security (Benefit) Taxes Paid (No Net Employee Benefit) f. Hypothetical Tax Reduction 3. Total Taxes Paid by Employee 4. Net Tax Equalization Amount 5. Gross-up on Line 4 Amount (on repatriation) 6. Gross Tax Equalization Amount Amount Due to/from 7. Net Tax Advances to Employee 8. Amount Due to Employee (Line 6 Greater Than Line 7) 8. Amount Due from Employee (Line 7 Greater Than Line 6)



0 3,000 0

410 3,946** 7,358 2,702 0 2,702

2,702 0

* See Figure 1, (Note 1) * See Figure 1, (Note 2)

These meetings had a two-fold purpose: first, to explain the basis for Company X’s adopting this particular approach (presented by corporate HR) and, second, to relate the technical and mechanical aspects (presented by their tax consultant) of the policy. To accomplish the latter purpose, presenters employed a number of examples, similar to those in Figures 2, 3, and 4, that were designed to reflect not only the benefits the policy would provide, but also to indicate the potential detrimental effect it might have on employees currently serving on assignments and to further illustrate how its effects would be offset by the transitional allowance. Although no one logically could expect that each and every employee would fully understand all policy implications simply from the presentations, Company X previously had

learned from employing a similar series of presentations associated with the introduction an earlier revised expatriate policy that such presentations greatly eased both transition and increased employee acceptance. In conclusion, it should be noted that while this approach may be successful for Company X, each organization must examine its own individual programs, policies, philosophies, and objectives when establishing a suitable tax reimbursement program and strategy for its employees. Two key elements are employee acceptance and defensibility—without which, no tax reimbursement program can be a successful one. Neil B. Krupp, CMC, is vice president, HR consulting and global compensation services for TheMIGroup, Buffalo Grove, IL. He can be reached at +1 847 541 1051 or e-mail MOBILITY/MARCH 2010 67

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Ninety Days or Nine Months:


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BY JILL HEINECK Choosing a qualified real estate agent who has detailed knowledge of the corporate mobility process is a must for any organization that is seeking to avoid unnecessary property inventory. Heineck outlines a five-step process for selecting an agent who is trained to address the needs of mobile employees. hether you are an independent recruiter, in-house hiring manager, or relocation director, partnering with qualified real estate professionals is critical to the successful integration of a new or existing employee into the company environment. Just as you interview and screen candidates for positions inside a company, your external real estate partnerships should be approached in the same fashion. And, at a time when corporate property inventory costs loom large on every manager’s spreadsheet, selecting an agent who can give the required assistance to an organization’s mobile workforce is all the more important.


Step #1: Understand the Agent’s Role in the Total Company Experience Even though the real estate agent may not be on the company payroll, he or she plays a critical role in the on-boarding process. He or she typically is the first person the transferee comes into

contact with and, in doing so, creates the first impression of the company, new city, and the like. The agent’s demeanor, professionalism, and knowledge become key factors in making it a smooth mobility experience. As the saying goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression, so take steps to ensure it is memorable and great.

Step #2: Refer a Full-time Professional So many times we see transferees referred to part-time agents—a neighbor or spouse who happens to have an active real estate license; we also see transferees referred to both brand-new and seasoned agents who may not possess the skill sets nor specialized systems to work with these atypical homeowners. This can be detrimental to the process that you are trying to preserve. Also, keep in mind that an agent who has been “on the list” for a significant period of time may not necessarily still be a great referral partner. In my experience, the agents on the list are not “refreshed” each


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year. Their areas, credentials, and business volume are not checked regularly to confirm that they are satisfactory suppliers.

Step #3: Review Qualifications It is critical to take the time to qualify the agents up front. By simply screening your suppliers, you can save enormous amounts of time, frustration and, ultimately, company dollars. Request references from either past clients or the companies with whom they had been referred. Ask for a report of how many mobility transactions they have closed. Are they active in the real estate community? Are they well-versed on the market conditions? Are they experts in their area?

Step #4: Differentiate Mobility Specialists Real estate agents who specialize in mobility have special skill sets and experience that goes beyond the average agent. Refer agents who currently are active and who can show a solid track record.


These agents understand the sensitive nature surrounding mobility, and are aware of your role in the process. They value the role of the relocation management company, the company representative, and their own. They also are well-versed in broker market analyses and other pricing opinions, monthly marketing reports, and weekly updates to the mobility consultant(s).

Step #5: Present a United Front Remember that the agent is a partner who plays an important part in the on-boarding process. Appreciate that he or she is an extension of your team, allowing you to do your job with focus while they concentrate on their specialties. Strong real estate partners make you look good while performing the challenging task of navigating the transaction to the closing table. Help the agent do their job well by giving all the necessary information up front. Be a team player, brief the agent, set expectations, communicate often,

and work together as a team by consistently presenting the same information to the candidate. In doing so, you present a united front, creating a pleasant experience both for you, the transferee, and the agent. In the end, not only will you have a less stressful work day, but a well-adjusted and productive transferee, too.

90 Days or Nine Months? There is nothing better than having the right tool for the right job. Mobility is a specialized transaction, and familiarity and mastery of its concepts certainly should be a sought-after quality of any real estate professional who will be assisting with the process. These five steps can aid in the identification and retention of just such a candidate. The preceding is written from the perspective of the author, a mobility specialist, and is intended to inspire thought. Jill Heineck is the founder and CEO of The Agent Advisory, LLC, Atlanta, GA. She can be reached at +1 404 531 3208 or e-mail

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The Art of

Exceptions BY ROY SOOMAN, CRP Embracing policy exceptions seems counterintuitive to the principles of sound mobility policy management. Sooman discusses how exceptions can have recurring lifecycles and can serve as indicators for needed policy changes.


ompanies rely on policies to manage their workforce mobility needs. The policies serve a number of purposes, including providing a sense of order to the complexities of moving employees to new work locations; helping the company achieve consistency in the application of benefits to transferring employees; and helping control the costs of mobility programs. An organization’s culture and financial objectives are the fundamental ingredients in its mobility policy laboratory from which the scope and depth of the mobility benefits are created. However, companies recognize that the genetic makeup of their mobility program may not be enough to attract first-choice candidates to accept a job transfer. Therefore, exceptions may be necessary. 72 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

Mobility policies are not static. Economic, social, and regulatory conditions alter the effectiveness of mobility benefits. As a result, organizations seek industry best practices to adapt to their policies or to validate their existing policies. Often, surveys indicate the company’s mobility program is fundamentally sound, but there are gaps between one or more of the company’s current practices and industry best practices. In some cases, these gaps can be mitigated by restructuring the current policy or policies, or by granting exceptions.

Policy Tiers The Worldwide ERC® 2009 “Relocation Assistance: Transferred Employees” survey reports that the over-

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whelming majority—73 percent—of companies uses multiple tiers of policies. In fact, of these organizations, more than four out of 10 use four or more policy tiers, according to the survey. Why use more than one policy? After all, a single policy is easier to keep up-to-date when changes are needed and one set of benefits helps ensure that transferees throughout the organization are treated equally. A single policy is easier for the organization and its mobility services provider(s) to correctly administer the benefits and to monitor policy exceptions. On the other hand, multiple policies or policy tiers allow a company to fine-tune the application of benefits for employees with similar salary or functional classifications or with similar circumstances (e.g., homeowner/

renter) when being transferred. By using multiple policies, a company can localize selected mobility benefits to smaller segments of its transferee population and, as a result, experience fewer exceptions.

Policy Exceptions Regardless of how many policies a company uses, in real world practice even the most thoroughly detailed mobility policy cannot be expected to adequately address each and every transferring employee’s circumstances. As a result, policy exception requests are to be expected as a normal characteristic of all mobility programs. The art of managing exceptions is judging whether an exception request is bona fide or is a case of a transferee selfishly pushing the boundaries of a policy provision. MOBILITY/MARCH 2010 73

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Exceptions as Policy There are contrasting opinions of whether the topic of exceptions should be mentioned in the written policy. For example, outlining the procedure in the policy for submitting an exception request, including identifying the position or person (often a senior-level department, business unit manager, or senior company officer) who ultimately approves the exception, may cause a transferee to re-think the merits of their request. The transferee may elect not to pursue it, preferring not to draw senior management’s attention to him- or herself. However, if he or she feels strongly about his or her situation, the transferee has an understanding of the process to follow. On the other hand, some transferees see the identification in the policy of the department or person who approves exceptions as an indication that exception requests are accepted as common practice. Contrarily, the omission of any information regarding exceptions may convey the opposite message: policy exceptions are not encouraged. As a result, transferees may be inhibited from seeking them. In other words, what you do not see, you do not get.

Exception Approval Process The process for reviewing and approving an exception request varies from organization to organization. Individual business units within an organization typically have the ultimate approval for granting exception requests because the cost of the exceptions fall to their bottom line. However, if the corporate office has overall responsibility for policy management, the business unit generally will contact the corporate office for 74 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

guidance in deciding whether to approve an exception. In some cases, the company expects its mobility services provider to “manage to the policy” when a transferee seeks an exception, but the company will pre-authorize the service provider to approve certain exceptions. The authorization may be based on a predetermined dollar maximum. Also, the service provider may be given standing orders by a client to “make it happen” if a senior executive seeks an exception (although the expectation is that the service provider will keep the client informed when they make those exceptions). The service provider may have its own policy exception approval process that it uses not only to provide the client with information it needs to approve the exception request, but also to document the service provider’s file for future audits, particularly for high dollar exceptions.

Policy-within-a-policy One technique used by clients to address certain types of policy exception requests is to have an off-theshelf, but formal, policy-within-apolicy. This means a mobility benefit—loss on sale, for example—is not in the policy. However, the company internally has vetted the criteria under which a loss benefit would be granted should the request be submitted by a transferee. Having such a ready-made secondary policy in place helps expedite the exception approval process and contributes to uniformity of approvals. A good example of a common exception request concerns the delivery of household goods on weekends. Prevalent wording in contemporary mobility policies prohibits weekend

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deliveries. This prohibition ensures the company does not incur overtime charges imposed by the van line. Should the weekend delivery prohibition be waived for a single parent with young children residing in temporary living in the new location? The employee is being reimbursed actual expenses. The employee tells his or her mobility services provider or the department manager that the van line is scheduled to arrive in the new location late Friday afternoon too late to unload that day. The employee requests approval for the overtime charges for unloading during the weekend. Under the policy-within-a-policy guidelines, the weekend delivery is approved if the overtime charges are approximately the same as the cost of


Criteria for Evaluating a Policy Exception Request • Does the standard policy provision in question truly create a personal, family, and/or financial hardship for the transferee? • Are the transferee’s circumstances sufficiently unique, or will granting the exception open a floodgate of “me, too” exception requests? • Are there alternatives to the exception request? • Is the exception request caused by circumstances over which the transferee totally or substantially had control but failed to exercise the control? • Is the cost of the exception acceptable? • Does the transferee possess critical skills urgently needed in the new work location, thereby justifying the cost of the exception? • Is there an internal-facing policy-within-a-policy for approving the exception being requested? • Is there a precedent of a previous, similar exception approval that provides guidance for deciding the current request?

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the employee/family hotel, meals, incidentals, and rental car expenses during the weekend. The exception policy guidelines also should take into account the indirect cost to the company of the employee’s lost productivity while they take a day off work on Monday to attend to the unloading of their household goods.

Exceptions Drive Policy Changes The frequency of a particular exception request may be a leading indicator that a company needs to modify its policy. Eventually, a change in an organization’s policy becomes common knowledge in the industry. As more companies adopt a similar policy provision, a new best practice emerges within the mobility

industry. For example, policies typically have excluded the cost of special handling of electronic equipment. However, during the past several years, plasma and LCD televisions have evolved from being high-tech luxury items to common household possessions. According to the Worldwide ERC® 2009 “Relocation Assistance: Transferred Employees” survey, 70 percent of companies cover the cost of disassembly and reassembly of plasma TVs.

Case Study: Policy Exceptions Become Best Practice Sustained unemployment rate above 9.5 percent; mortgage foreclosure rate up 54 percent; loan originations down

erc mb


more than 50 percent; and business failure rate up 300 percent. Sound familiar? Actually, these figures are from U. S. government statistics for the period between 1980 and 1985. The additional piece of information that goes along with the preceding figures is that mortgage interest rates peaked at 18.45 percent in October 1981 and were still above 12 percent in 1985. An examination of policy surveys, “A Study of Employee Relocation Policies Among Major U.S. Corporations,” conducted by Hagen Marketing Research Inc. and published by Merrill Lynch Relocation Management, Inc. in 1984 and again in 1986 reveals how mobility policy components were transformed

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from policy exceptions into best practices. Guaranteed buy out. In 1981, nearly three-quarters of surveyed companies (71 percent) said their transferees experienced problems in disposing of their former location homes. By the 1984 survey, only 51 percent reported problems. Possibly, transferees were benefiting from an improvement in mortgage interest rates, which had “plummeted” from 18.45 percent to 13.24 percent, making purchasing a home affordable for significantly more buyers. It is likely, however, that the conversion of guaranteed buy-out programs from being policy exceptions to mainstream practice had a more direct effect. Prior to 1978, fewer than 50 percent of companies had a homesale guaranteed


buy-out provision. The 1984 survey report showed that 74 percent of companies provided this benefit. Duplicate housing expense. The 1984 survey also reported that 61 percent of companies reimbursed duplicate housing expenses for employees who were eligible for the company’s direct reimbursement homesale program. Of these companies, 35 percent said there were no limits—17 percent covered three months; 19 percent covered four to six months. It is difficult to imagine that unlimited duplicate housing expense coverage was anything other than a policy exception until the deteriorating real estate market conditions prompted the significant increase in the number of companies adopting the unlimited benefit.

Mortgage discount points. Faced with the 800-lb gorilla in the form of 12 to 18 percent mortgage interest rates that were stymieing employee homesales and home purchases, companies in the early 1980s dug deep into their financial pockets. For example, the 1984 survey reported that 63 percent of companies placed no limits on the reimbursement of mortgage origination fees. This figure far outdistanced the second most common response: 8 percent reimbursed up to 3 percent loan origination fees. There is more: the 1984 survey also showed that 29 percent of companies placed no limits on reimbursement of mortgage discount points. This was just slightly less than the most common response of 32 per-

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cent of organizations that said they reimbursed three to five discount points. MIDA programs. In case unlimited reimbursement of origination fees and discount points was not enough, 79 percent of companies said they provided a mortgage interest differential allowance (MIDA). The overwhelming majority (71 percent) based the MIDA on the difference between the new and the old rates without any adjustment for minimum rate threshold or a minimum spread between the two rates.

The Exception/Policy Cycle The historical case study is evidence that mobility policies are dynamic HR tools, shaped by policy provisions with recurring lifecycles, first emerging as a policy exception, graduating to being a standard practice, and then fading to dormancy. With today’s mortgage interest rates hovering around 5 percent, mortgage discount points and MIDAs have disappeared from contemporary mobility policies. However, interest rates have no where to go but up as the economy strengthens. When that happens, we will see loan origination fee and discount point reimbursements, and we could even see MIDA programs resurface once again, first as exceptions then as standard policy practice. Determining whether to grant individual policy exception requests; when to convert recurring policy exceptions to standard policy practice; and when to return the standard practice to exception-only status is the art of exceptions. Roy Sooman, CRP, is director, policy consulting for NuCompass Mobility Services, Inc., Glendale, AZ. He can be reached at +1 623 362 9722 or e-mail 82 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

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RAC Report

Regional Market Summary: Metro Denver Area


STATISTICAL SNAPSHOT Unemployment Months of Supply Annualized Sales Volume Annualized Average Sales Price Average Days on Market


One Year Ago


7.3% 4.64 30,154 $262,591 95

6% 4.12 33,152 $265,769 98

+21.6% +12.62% -10.02% -1.20% -3.06%

prices are stabilizing but the number of sales has shifted downward.


Looking Forward

Economic Climate


Prior to the sub-prime mortgage problem and the subsequent national recession, Metro Denver was poised to experience a strong housing market. Although home prices have declined from peak levels set three to four years ago, sale prices have stabilized. Builder magazine named Denver as the city most ready for a

New Construction


REO Activity



In Balance



Market Direction


Market Mood



$300,000 $250,000




$150,000 4,000


Mean Sales Price





8 007 .2007 .2007tr.200 .2008 .2008 .2008 .2009 .2009 .2009 .2009 r r r r r r.2 r r r r Qt d Qt h Qt 1st Q d Qt d Qt h Qt st Qt d Qt d Qt h Qt d t n n n 1 4t 4 4t 3r 3r 2n 3 2 2

housing rebound and among five housing markets likely to quickly recover. Foreclosures will continue to be a challenge, but there likely will be fewer in 2010 than in the past few years because of programs that are available to assist homeowners and lenders implementing short sales as an alternative to foreclosures. However, there are concerns that homesales will weaken after March 31, the date the Federal Reserve is set to end its purchase of mortgagebacked securities, and after April 31, 84 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010



Sales Volume

kin to most of the country, the Metro Denver marketplace is experiencing challenging market conditions. However, unlike most of the country, Metro Denver is starting to show signs of improvement. This reporting area consists of 6 counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson. Housing supply of inventory hovered around the 4- to 5-month range during the past year, and is considered a relatively balanced market condition. There are numerous factors with which to credit this improvement, but emphasis should be placed on Metro Denver being identified as one of the first metropolitan areas leading into the housing market decline, and may, therefore, be one of the first to lead the nation out. Unemployment is mirroring the national average, but at significantly lower levels (currently 7.3 percent). REO and foreclosure inventory led the nation years ago, but is starting to stabilize with 2009 numbers only 6 percent greater than 2008. These factors, in addition to inventory levels hovering around a balance between supply and demand, all are indicators to a stabilizing housing market. As noted by the chart, average sales


# Sales Mean SP

the date that the tax incentive programs expire. Although Denver is in a good position to experience a strong recovery, the recovery could be jeopardized by the economic climate throughout the nation. Marie Robbins-Marine, SRA, CRP, is president of Robbins-Marine Property Valuation, Inc., Littleton, CO. She an be reached at +1 303 972 1916 or e-mail Tim Lynch, CRP, is with Lynch & Associates Real Estate Appraisal Company, Littleton, CO. He can be reached at +1 303 972 5132 or e-mail

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Australia Reviews Its Visa Program to Protect Citizens from Competition with Foreign Workers unlike Singapore Temasek Review (01/21/2010) The Australian government is changing its temporary work visa rules to require that employers offer the same pay to skilled foreigners as is offered to Australian workers for the same job. The change is intended to protect local jobs from being supplanted by cheap foreign labor, according to Minister for Immigration Chris Evans. The purpose of temporary visas is to allow employers to quickly bring skilled workers to meet industry, economic, and labor needs, not to provide a source of inexpensive labor, he said. The new rules will ensure that foreigners are not hired ahead of Australians. The country is a popular destination for expats despite its strict immigration laws, which are much more restrictive than Singapore, which has much more lax rulesóabout two out of three applicants are successful in receiving permanent residency, according to Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng. Singaporeans complain that the countryís failure to limit cheap foreign labor has brought down wages, lowered productivity, increased the cost of living, and lowered the standard of living. (http://www.temasekreview. com/2010/01/21/australia-reviews-its-visaprogram-to-protect-locals-from-competitionwith-foreign-workers-unlike-singapore/ comment-page-1/) Women in Emerging Markets: Tap into Their Talent Bloomberg (01/26/10) Hewlett, Sylvia Ann Taking advantage of the pool of highly qualified women in emerging markets such as the Middle East could be the key to the future growth of multinational corporations. For example, a new study on Women in Emerging Markets by the Center for Work-Life Policy reveals that woman earn more than half of all global tertiary degrees, and women in the United Arab Emirates are as ambitious as American men. However, female executives in the Middle East work in a very difficult job environment that is further complicated by different time zones and cultural mores. Female executives get very little break on weekends, considering an end-of-the-week conference call beginning at 2 p.m. in New

York means those in Dubai are still at work at 11 p.m. Friday night. Mothers, daughters and wives are discouraged from working, and local regulations and work rules often put them at a disadvantage. The study offers some strategies multinationals can use to leverage and support talented women. Multinationals could rotate conference calls across time zones, and provide networking opportunities for senior women. Companies also can lobby local authorities on making the work environment fairer to women, and can provide childcare and eldercare. ( apps/harvardbusiness?sid=H7a77b422a13a7d dadd180047444d7659)

February 3, 2010 This issue is sponsored by:

Laos to Allow Expatriates to Stay Longer Thai Press Reports (01/21/10) A new draft decree from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairsí Overseas Relations Department would allow Laotians living overseas to stay in Laos for nine months on a tourist visa rather than the current 30 days, and may also allow them land ownership rights and less red tape if they marry a Lao citizen. The estimated 60,000 Laotians living abroad will also get corporate tax cuts for investing in the country as part of an effort to encourage them to participate in the development of Laos. ( Libya Enforces New Rules on Arab Migrant Workers BBC Worldwide Monitoring (01/17/10) The Libyan government is starting to enforce new rules that require migrant workers to have a mandatory work contract and tourists to have at least UK600 when entering the country. The stepped-up enforcement, aimed at workers from Maghreb countries and Egypt, comes at the request of the workersí home countries. ìThis is an indisputable sovereign right,î says Mohamed Baíiyou, spokesman for the Libyan cabinet. ìInternational agreements that guarantee labor rights cannot be enforced unless there are mandatory work contracts for all those who come to work in Libya.î The rules will apply to more than two million people. Baíiyou says those workers already in Libya have been offered lucrative work contracts that are beneficial to them and their employers. (

Read the full issue at GLOBILITY Visit our online Career Center

GLOBILITY is an exclusive service of Worldwide ERC®. The editors review more than 15,000 stories in nearly 7,000 sources and prepare summaries of the most significant global workforce mobility news. Included here are a few of the briefs published in the February 3, 2010 issue, which is delivered to your e-mailbox twice per month. © 2010 Information Inc.


last_member profile07 2/12/10 5:05 PM Page 2

Last Page

Helping Haiti T

hanks to the giving nature of Worldwide ERC® members working in tandem with the Foundation for Workforce Mobility, more than $11,000 of support was provided to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, also known as “Doctors Without Borders”), an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion, and natural or man-made disasters. Foundation Charitable Outreach Vice Chair Sheila Barr, CRP, Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate, reports that, “we decided quickly to earmark $2,500 in Foundation funds for Haiti, and encouraged our members to give through the Foundation to match the contribution. We are overwhelmed  by the generosity of our members, whose responses more than tripled our original donation. We selected MSF for its pre-earthquake placement in Haiti, knowing that they already had an infrastructure and network established, and because they are one of the most highly rated charitable groups in organizational efficiency and capacity. Nearly 88 percent of MSF funds go directly to delivering its programs, and only 12.6 percent of costs go to administration and fundraising. The work of MSF in Haiti continues, and recent reports show us that though essential needs (food and water) are being provided, there are still many families and individuals who are without shelter, and the need for medical attention continues to be critical. The earthquake 88 MOBILITY/MARCH 2010

interrupted basic medical care that already kept MSF's emergency facilities busy, so alongside injuries from the quake, there is also, according to MSF, ‘a flow of every kind of patient’ with needs from illnesses like gastrointestinal problems or respiratory tract infections, psychological trauma, and tetanus, obstetric and post-operative care requirements.” The MSF’s work in Haiti extends beyond medical care, too. A recent MSF report noted that living conditions for people who lost their homes and are now in camps under makeshift shelter are particularly difficult, with the need for water and sanitation being one of the most pressing issues. The latest MSF contributions include a plan to supply

the 7,000 people living in the camps near the St. Louis Hospital (an inflatable hospital with sterile care rooms that was installed after the earthquake) and the identification of nearly 30 sites where they will be working to provide water, trucking, and latrines. In total, MSF is improving access to water and sanitation for around 40,000 displaced people in the Port-au-Prince and Léôgane areas. Heartfelt thanks to the Worldwide ERC® contributors who expanded the Foundation’s original MSF donation, and to all of our members whose kindness, benevolence, and compassion brought aid to Haiti through personal and professional connections, organizations, and groups. 

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Worldwide ERC® - MOBILITY magazine - March 2010  
Worldwide ERC® - MOBILITY magazine - March 2010  

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