Thursday, March 18, 2010

Report from ERC Global Mobility Conference in Hong Kong, March 10-11

Hi Everyone, I made a last-minute decision to attend the Worldwide ERC Conference (last week in Hong Kong. To my surprise, it was a very warm and friendly conference, I knew more people than I had expected, and the networking was wonderful. If you work in the global mobility and/or relocations industry, it’s a great, fun conference to be involved in and I encourage you to consider attending the upcoming conferences this year in Frankfurt, Germany (June) and Seattle, Washington (October).

Conference Sessions

To get an idea about what transpired at the conference, here is a list of the main sessions held:

• The New China (Opening Plenary)
• Managing Talent in the New Economy
• The HR Discipline of Measuring ROI
• The Effect of Global Economics on Workforce Mobility and Mobility Benefits
• Survive and Thrive in the ‘New Normal’ – Policy Trends Update and Interactive Workshop
• Global Mobility Benchmarking Workshop for Corporate HR Professionals
• Global Thought Leaders: Senior Strategists Dialogue
• Solutions Workshop: Alignment of Talent, Mobility, and Business Strategies
• Focus on Assignments in Indonesia
• Mobility Compensation Issues and Practices in Asia
• Understanding Localization and ‘Local Plus’
• India: Trends in Workforce Mobility
• Exploring Commuter and Short-Term Assignments
• The War for Talent in China: Benefits, Challenges
• Schooling Solutions for the Assignee’s Family
• Legal Update: Labor and Immigration Hot Issues
• Turn Obstacles into Opportunities Through Hope and Humor (Closing Plenary)


I am going to write up a conference report for our Expat Women April or May newsletter. But in the meantime, here are some interesting insights that I heard during the sessions:

• Last year, US$560 billion of residential property sold in China – which was an 80% increase from the year before – and clearly demonstrates the heightened activity in China at the moment

• The wealth of most of the richest residents in China is property-related, versus only 7 out of 100 on the US’s rich list being property-related.

• Martin Leese, HR manager for Citigroup (48,000 employees), commented that he is seeing a decrease in the acceptance rate of job offers – including for graduate jobs (which he noted was a general financial services trend in the United States right now).

• HR issue regarding expatriates: offering incentives that are ‘sustainable’. Various HR managers commented on their push to make expat job offers more consistent and their need to stop throwing incentives to expatriate employees that are not sustainable in the long-term.

• There was a general trend that ‘local plus’ packages (that is, local packages with some, but not all, extra/expat benefits).

• Brendan Ryan, MD Operations for Fragomen Global, said that in his twenty years of working in the field of immigration law and visas, he had never seen such a worldwide trend to both tighten and enforce immigration policies.

• Tax equalisation: Talk of more and more companies providing expat packages that are ‘tax neutral’ – that is, you don’t lose if you move to a higher-tax country with your employer, but you don’t win either (on the tax aspect... this discussion talked about 'other' benefits separately), if you move to a lower-tax country.

It goes without saying that not everyone agreed with everything (me included), but it was interesting to hear HR trends and listen to the perspectives of HR managers, who, it should be remembered, are constantly under pressure to reduce resource expenditure yet improve their company’s bottom line.

If you are not already an Expat Women member, please sign up so you don’t miss my full report in one of our upcoming newsletters. Thanks for your support, Andrea.

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