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Blue Islands article

It’s hard to believe that we are now at the end of another year in what have been extraordinary times over the last five years or so.

Are things improving or are we entrenched in times where some have said it will the lost decade

Recruitment is the sign in any economy that can provide the answers to the current state of play. ThatcherMacKenzie recruits for the finance sectors in Jersey, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Singapore. These key international sectors will provide some of the answers as to the state of the global economy.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Both countries have experienced high profile pressure from the USA, France, Germany and the United Kingdom in recent years. Such pressure over banking secrecy resulted in the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility with the UK as well as the Anglo-Swiss tax agreement amongst other things. Has this affected Switzerland’s competitiveness as a finance jurisdiction?

In short no – however as a recruiter I have seen a downturn in recruitment levels especially in Geneva. Many banks and trust companies have used this year to review their client base, restructure in order to ensure tax compliant business or exit the client. As a result many firms in Geneva are busy but not necessarily with the development of new business which would create new headcount and opportunity.

Zurich has seen consistent growth in recruitment levels in 2013. Many businesses in Zurich spent 2009, as the time to start dealing with clients and their structures. As such many banks and fiduciary companies have been in the position of developing new business over the last few years, unlike Geneva.

Liechtenstein has also encountered consistent and solid growth during 2013. Many finance businesses are concerned of where Liechtenstein will be post LDF but the vast majority of banks and fiduciaries are able to see new opportunities, focussing themselves on the Eastern European and Latin American markets

Jersey

This year has seen a change in confidence in the island. Many finance businesses are looking to the future and there is now more of an appetite for strategic level recruitment than in the last five years.

Jersey’s contribution to the UK economy was revealed earlier this year showing that the island is a significant contributor to jobs and prosperity in the UK. This positive account of the Island has effectively placed it further away from the label of tax haven and this in turn seems to have ensured that new business is being attracted into the finance sector, especially with private banking, trust and investment management.

As a result of this new found enthusiasm for Jersey and its finance industry, we as recruiters can be cautiously optimistic about 2014. Why only cautiously optimistic? The decision by Jersey, Isle of Man and Guernsey to enter automatic tax exchange agreements with the UK may encourage some clients to look at Switzerland instead.

Singapore

Growth in Singapore and the Far East/Asia in general continues to put Europe to shame. This is despite there being a reported down turn in the region in general as well as slowing economic growth in China. From a recruitment perspective, the financial services sector continues to grow with trust, funds and private banking the key areas to recruit in to.

Within the trust sector especially, there is still a need to secure experienced and quality staff from outside of Singapore who can bring their expertise to ensure the continued development and “skilling up” of the workforce. However as Singapore’s finance sector matures it means that the days of the “expat package” are over. Those who are suitably qualified to work in the finance sector must be prepared to accept a local package if they wish to be a part of this vibrant economy

For now Singapore continues to be an area of interest for many working in private banking, funds and trust. However as of next year there will be tighter immigration and work permit controls in Singapore. Whether or not this will affect the city state’s ability to attract talent and continue its extraordinary economic remains to be seen. Also in the light of Hong Kong’s new trust laws, Singapore now has genuine competition in the region.

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