Brain-drain Kiwis find grass is greener at home

By Jacqueline Smith

Kiwis who joined the "brain-drain" rush to work overseas are now trying to return home as they are squeezed from their finance and banking jobs in Britain.

The Herald has spoken to several Auckland recruiters, all of whom say they have been contacted by New Zealanders wanting to come home.

Debbie Graham of Debbie Graham and Associates, which specialises in accounting, banking and financial services, said she'd had a steady stream of inquiries from the United Kingdom over the past couple of months.

"Some have lost their jobs, others are just keeping a close eye on positions available in the New Zealand market," she said.

Rob Bradley, a partner at Finance Jobs, said the number of visits to the company's website had doubled over the past three months, and candidate registrations had also increased.

He said uncertainty in the local and international financial markets made job seekers more aware that they should keep their options open or at least register themselves with relevant job sites and recruiters.

In a worsening employment market, a person made redundant from one job could have difficulty quickly finding another at the right salary level.

Ms Graham said some Kiwis wanting to come home might have trouble getting work because of restructuring or hiring freezes in New Zealand banks.

Most of the recent interest her office received had come from Kiwis in Britain, although inquiries had also come from expatriates in Australia and Europe.

"They are feeling a little bit uncomfortable over there, especially following the events of the last couple of weeks.

"Some are waiting for their bonuses to be paid early next year, but many are hoping to get home by Christmas."

Falling mortgage interest rates and house prices had made home more of an attractive option than it once was.

"For the past five years we have had huge shortages of talent, with the brain drain in full flight.

"Now that the talent is freeing up, it will be interesting to see whether the jobs will be available in New Zealand."

Pete Macauley, New Zealand associate director of Michael Page International which focuses on recruitment in banking, finance, accounting, marketing and sales, said his office had been receiving an increasing number of calls and applications from Kiwis overseas.

The global financial crisis had affected recruitment activity in financial services.

Companies were reluctant to increase staff numbers, "and hiring decisions are taking longer as employers become more selective about the industry experience of potential employees".

But he said New Zealand had yet to see an oversupply of candidates in any area other than property.

Businesses were looking for high-quality operations, middle and front office staff, and there was a shortage of fund accountants and business analysts.

- NZ Herald

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