Brexit: With reduced mobility across Europe, is it time to open channels to Antipodean Finance Professionals?

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Laura Paterson

Since the declaration of the historic referendum results last June, one word has dominated our headlines only slightly less frequently than the recently-coined ‘Brexit’ – ‘uncertainty’.

After the financial crisis of 2008 and a weak recovery, businesses are understandably wary of this word, and with the only thing for certain being that we will have to live with a significant amount of uncertainty for years to come, there has been an unavoidable impact on the UK financial jobs market. The economy and employment markets have stabilised remarkably well since the initial shock and the jobs are certainly there, but candidates are less willing to move due to fears surrounding job security. Employers have balanced their talent shortages against risk and unpredictability, opting to decrease permanent hiring leading to a stark increase in interim requirements.

Typically, and particularly in the city, contract and interim finance roles have often been filled by professional migrants looking to get the requisite London experience under their belts, as newly qualified UK Auditors/ATAs and Chartered Accountants are notoriously reluctant to leave the Big Four or take on junior roles. Many of these interim positions have been filled by EU-nationals who have enjoyed freedom of movement between EU member states. However, now that Article 50 has been triggered and negotiations have begun, it is looking increasingly likely that it will no longer be possible for UK employers to attract talent from Europe without the rigmarole of immigration policies and the visa restrictions that currently affect non-EU nationals. The playing field is now somewhat levelled for non-EU overseas applicants.

Coincidentally, there has been a rise in the interest of Antipodean professionals sniffing out an opportunity and setting their sights on roles in the UK financial markets, after a mass exodus of highly-skilled overseas talent during the recession. Newly qualified finance professionals are attracted by the prospect of spending 2 years bolstering their experience, as well as satisfying the urge to travel the world and experience different cultures that is in their blood.

For these reasons, newly-qualified antipodeans are in high demand – reputed to be hard-working and eager for opportunity with a willingness to take on even part-qualified roles, sectors and salaries that their UK counterparts would turn their noses up at.

Attracting Antipodeans can be challenging once they have arrived in the UK as they are immediately snapped up or already have roles organised before entering.


How can UK business compete to attract and engage top talent before coming to the UK?

So, there’s a skills gap in the UK finance market and a pool of visa-eligible, qualified talent with practice experience in the Southern Hemisphere; a serendipitous set of circumstances for both parties. As always, however, there is a catch: Newly qualified candidates from the Top 4 consultancies in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are so in demand they are effectively creating their own microcosm as clients are now asking for that very specific profile – and resultantly they are usually snapped up within a week of landing at Heathrow. The trick is finding a way to engage with them before they take off and preferably long before they have even booked their flights. For this it is often far simpler to engage a recruitment consultancy with established routes into the other side of the world.


How does Cedar attract the best Antipodean candidates?

Cedar prides itself on its proactive, digitally savvy and passionate consultants who are experts in their respective industry specialisms.

We don’t rely on job boards to attract candidates; our Associates regularly use tools such as Skype, LinkedIn, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp video calls, CV portals, Facebook Groups and international job boards to attract and engage talent from all over the world. Personal recommendation provides us with a stream of fresh antipodean talent, too. We work tirelessly around the clock to communicate with candidates at times when it’s best for them. With Australians and New Zealanders being roughly 12 hours ahead of us, we find it best to reach out first thing in the morning as they are either finishing work or on their commute home and free to discuss their career plans.

When there is more than just a change of job at stake, we think it’s important to have a holistic approach to assisting an overseas career move. We offer a bespoke, personal service for people moving to the UK and offer additional advice on housing, transport, networking and making friends. We understand that the sooner candidates settle into their new environment the better their focus will be on work – meaning that both candidate and client benefit from Cedar’s approach.