There was such a fantastic energy in the room at the global mobility Bite Size Briefing in London, my first event on “the other side” of Expat Academy! You may have been able to tell that I started the day full of energy – I’m not sure if it was more excited or nervous energy, but energy nonetheless! It was a strange feeling to be sat with the team, taking notes so that I can update my clients rather than my assignees, but still a great chance to pause midway through the year. It’s great to get a chance to really look at what we have achieved in first six months of the year and share what we plan to achieve in the next six (saying it out loud makes it a bit more real, doesn’t it?!). When I was working as an in-house global mobility manager (all of last week), I really looked forward to the briefings and in particular the technical updates, so armed with my notebook and several spare pens, I took my seat at the front this time…
The day kicked off with Steph Carr and Daniel Howse from BDO looking at how we are “coping with the new normal” in GM tax. The hot topic, of course, was the delays we have all seen in HMRC and how we can best deal with the common types of application where online applications were the top recommendation. They also covered international remote workers, confirming that this trend isn’t changing any time soon, and how the upcoming new Teleworkers Agreement in the EU may (or may not!) impact us. Staying on trend we looked at ESG and how we can incorporate this in GM and the common pitfalls we all face.
We then got a behind the scenes tour of how RMC’s make money from Andreas Strachwitz and Shan Norman from Weichert. We looked at the different types of RMC’s and the current trends and shifts they are seeing. They gave us great insights into the different revenue streams for RMC’s and fee types before, importantly, looking at cost saving opportunities. We also looked at the downsides of lump sum packages and this became a theme throughout the rest of the day.
Our live survey was an energetic part of the day, where we saw that many teams have big plans for the rest of the year (policy refreshes, training, etc.) but felt they had spent the first part of the year firefighting! You many have noticed I was thrown in the deep end a little bit here (did we mention it was my first day?!), but who doesn’t love a challenge?! The bustling breaks giving the usual chance to network and talk to our peers.
Tracy Kautzmann and Lucy Foster from Impact Group told us the “hard truths of the soft services in mobility” as 67% of expats say that their top concern would be helping family adjust. Wellbeing is more important than ever and we discussed how we have a duty of care to look after it as well as the more traditional compliance services. What stood out the most was these services are clearly as important to the success of assignments as the traditional services, but we still call them “soft services”. To help tackle this, we also looked at how we can make a business case for this by busting the common myths and looking at how an assignment failing can impact the company.
We then took a closer look at “child friendly mobility” with Karlijn Jacobs and Bonnie Thurlow from Bournes. We learnt about happiness ecosystems and the pyramid of children’s support before diving into the 6 stages of international migration and how we can support children through them. We then talked about “third culture kid identity” and what we can do to make our moves more child friendly. This really brought home the fact that GM professionals are relocating human families and that we should think of the children’s experience, rather than just as names of “dependents”.
GMPD had a brilliant panel with Rosalind Harvey, Rachel James, Ben Love and Petya Pavlova discussing the “power of learning” and why personal and professional development is so important to them and their companies. It became clear that the rapid pace of change and breadth of our scope in GM means that GMPD is invaluable to them and their teams. We really saw the passion for learning in the room and we were ultimately all there to learn and develop!
Mike Hibberd and Fay Bradley-Burns from Global Expat Pay dived into the underlying data and operational challenges for GM teams. We then saw a fantastic case study with Charlotte Stokes from Smiths Group, which clearly demonstrated each step of the process from initial reviews and data collection through to implementation. I think we were all surprised at how little time it took to transform the whole expat pay process and how much time and money it could save!
will impact travel in the Schengen Area. Followed by an update on the UK ETA, which is due to be fully rolled out by 2024 and the Schengen Visa processing changes. We then looked at the 2023 updated for the US including the new ESTA app and the changes to non-immigrant visa processing. The Biden Administration is having an impact on immigration and there have been record numbers of H-1B registrations with 500k US immigrant visa applications and 7 million (!) non-immigrant applications. Finally, we talked top tips for summer 2023 travel in the US with changing Covid19 rules and the ongoing consular delays.
At the end of all of this, I was left with a lot less energy than I started the day with (perhaps thankfully?!). We definitely covered a lot of ground, but all topics that GM teams have to deal with every single day, and I think we should all give ourselves more credit for this alone! I found that I had several solid takeaways from each presentation – Always a bonus when returning back to our desks! This was really echoed during our networking drinks (which got characteristically loud!) where everybody I had a chat with said they had tonnes of notes and were buzzing from catching-up with everyone. Don’t forget to add each other on LinkedIn and book onto future events so that we can all get together and do this again. And one last personal thank you from me, for all being so kind and welcoming on my first day!