Nearly six in 10 (59%) of UK financial services leaders believe an employee’s chance for promotion will ‘improve greatly’ with international experience, according to new research1 from Robert Half Financial Services, a leading recruitment specialist.  This figure rises to 76 per cent and 81 per cent for medium and large-sized companies respectively. Only seven per cent of respondents think international experience has no impact at all.

The main benefits international experience brings financial services professionals, include cultural understanding, cited by nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents, commercial understanding (62%), communication / linguistic ability (57%), global market understanding (51%), specific product knowledge (50%), improved work ethic (35%), technical expertise (12%) and international accounting, regulatory and/or banking standards (9%).

This may be welcome news for many UK financial services employees, with nearly four in 10  (38%) organisations ‘always’ offering international secondment opportunities to their employees, while 28 per cent make the decision on an individual basis and nearly one fifth (17%) offer opportunities depending on the specific requirements of the role.

Large and publicly-listed companies increasingly recognise the value of offering international assignments. Indeed, 56 per cent and 58 per cent of organisations, respectively, ‘always’ offer international secondment opportunities to their employees.

UK financial services executives were asked: “Does your organisation offer international secondment opportunities?”

Always 38%
Depending on the individual employee 28%
Depending on specific requirements of the role/company 17%
We have international operations but no secondment opportunities 9%
We only have domestic operations 8%

Despite the prevalence of, not to mention promotion potential, that internal secondment opportunities deliver, just over one in 10 (13%) employees take advantage of them throughout their career.

Neil Owen, Global Practice Director, Robert Half Financial Services said: “Financial services professionals looking to advance their careers may want to consider accepting an international assignment as this greatly improves the chances of promotion. The rapid pace of globalisation and adoption of global regulatory and banking standards are key factors driving demand for professionals with global business experience.

“International know-how is becoming a career imperative for tomorrow’s top finance executives. Firms benefit from talent working abroad, gathering experiences and insights that they can later bring back to the firm to remain competitive on a global scale.”

Robert Half offers candidates four tips in helping land an international assignment:

  • Work for an international firm. The easiest way to build your international experience is to join a company that has offices around the world.
  • Develop a global network. International professional associations can help you expand your network of contacts in other countries and build your knowledge of global business issues.
  • Seek out resources. Do your homework and research visa, travel and career information in a country that interests you.
  • Keep in touch with recruiters. It’s wise to maintain a relationship with a specialised recruiter even if you’re not currently looking for a position.