I recently spoke to an expat who had the opportunity to work in head office for a few years. While the overseas posting was fantastic for career development and advancement, it was challenging uprooting the family, particularly for his spouse, although the children found it quite an adventure.
Being in financial services, this executive was able to keep an eye on the money side. With tax returns needing to be lodged in both countries, some of the cross jurisdictional issues were tricky to navigate. A lack of communication between tax advisors in the home and host countries could have cost him thousands.
Any additional questions beyond the basics were out of scope and had to be referred back to his company. The employee share plan was challenging to work through, but he now has a good handle on the timing of transactions and tax obligations.
Whilst the overseas assignment has accelerated his wealth creation, particularly due to a rising stock price, the assignee found a number of the issues that came up were new to his employer. With more and more executives doing business around the globe, many in human resources find themselves on a steep learning curve.
Also, one would expect minimal cultural differences between English speaking countries. This came as a surprise, but they were able to adapt to local business practices and family lifestyle.
Overall, the international experience at head office was extremely valuable to bring back to the local subsidiary. He would have liked to have stayed a bit longer from a career perspective, but he and his family are glad to be home.
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