INSIGHTS AND NEWS
News, expert opinions and other updates
News, expert opinions and other updates
As a Single or multi-family office, you deal with the millions upon billions of pounds that your ultra-high-net-worth clientele have amassed over generations. As the often secretive industry continues to grow despite the 2008 economic downturn, so does the wealth involved.
Typically working with families worth at least £200 million, family offices are usually filled with teams of professional lawyers, financial analysts and property managers all dedicating their efforts to ensure the almost dynastic lines of wealth continue to be secure and prosperous.
Most family offices take care of clients’ private matters, from concierge services and PA duties, to personal legal proceedings.
However, family offices businesses are usually secretive and complex. With each family having specific needs and requirements separate from their own private wealth management firms, finding the right talent to bolster your ranks can be tough.
Single family offices are often described as a “who you know” business as each different family will have unique requirements. However, sometimes you’re not sure that you know the right person for the job and that is where the right executive search and recruitment agency can help.
The dynastic wealth the family has built up over the years is being looked after by the single family office and with so much at stake, you only trust those with a wealth of knowledge and expertise.
As AP Executive gets to know the intricacies of your business, it will study the intricacies of the office culture to find the best fit. While many of those working for single family offices tend to be desirable due to their extensive experience as lawyers or accountants, more senior staff may have direct links to the family, typically working for them in a past role.
AP Executive understand the risks of a bad hire, especially when a family’s wealth is on the line. That’s why candidates will typically have experience and expertise in quality and quantity.
The level of wealth these families have accrued over the years takes a lot of effort from a business aspect. Understandably then, recruitment agencies who have worked with single family offices in the past claim that loyalty goes a long way.
It’s no secret that these offices can be filled with those who consistently have the family’s best interests at heart. AP Executive look for candidates that share your goals and want to work hard to ensure the family’s wealth continues to grow.
Single family businesses typically operate in a traditional hierarchical way. We understand that this may bring complexities to investment banking and independent decision making in relation to potential set-up of hedge funds. However, we know that for those with a background within accountancy or the law, this type of control may already be familiar and that this could help them to fit the culture that currently exists at family offices.
With single family offices, much of the recruitment is based upon the relationships you build. Many employees within a single family office may have worked with the controlling family for many years before they were offered the job.
However, there are plenty of events and members’ clubs that allow recruiters to network and build relationships within the sector. We completely understand just how much a bad hire can cost, so developing a relationship with trusted professionals who understand the intricacies of family office culture can lift a huge amount of pressure.
Having AP Executive work in partnership with your family office can greatly aid your executive search and recruitment needs as well as boost internal practices. We understand the importance of getting it right first time and work to ensure every family office we work with is given candidates at the right level of their career ladder.
Finding the best candidates to join your team can be tough, especially so many candidates trying to establish a career in this industry. However, with the sector offering lucrative rewards, competitive remuneration packages and professionally satisfying challenges, a career in family office appeals to some of the best financial experts.
Our search consultants understand the importance of discretion that many high-street agencies may not be familiar with. We maintain trust, reliability and bespoke partnership level function that excels the standard executive search practices.
At AP Executive, we excel in placing exceptional candidates in a wide range of family office jobs including investment advisors, tax advisors, real estate specialists and corporate administrators. Visit our dedicated family office page to find out more about how our service can help your family office.
The new Population Management Law in Guernsey, which is designed to address the island’s demographic challenges, came into force on 3 April, 2017. The new law replaces the old Housing Control Law which focussed on controlling available housing on the island as a means to cap immigration. The newly introduced legislative measures aim to encourage the right make-up of people to meet the skills shortages as well as other social and fiscal objectives.
Following are some of the key changes:
Everyone living in Guernsey aged 16 and above needs to hold a Certificate or Permit in order to legally live and work here.
To know more about Certificates and Permits please visit https://www.gov.gg/pmresident
Employment Permits are granted to foreign nationals who undertake jobs in skills and manpower shortage areas. There are three kinds of permits under this new legislation.
Long Term Permit:
Medium Term Permit
Short – Term Permit
Here’s a quick guide to Employment Permits: https://www.gov.gg/pmemployment
Introduction of Employer Portal: Employers can now submit applications for Employment Permits via the Employer Portal, which is a free, web-based system provided by the Gov of Guernsey. Online applications will make the process quicker and efficient.
AP Executive will continue to offer valuable advice and guidance to employers and candidates regarding the new population management law.
Let’s be honest here: senior level hiring is no easy task. Even for a multinational company with its own in-house human resource department, sourcing C-suite professionals can be challenging, expensive and time-consuming. That’s why companies turn to executive search firms to help them fill critical positions at the top. They know that a single bad hire can send the business in a downward spiral, so it’s worth investing in the services of a reputed executive search firm.
Here’re some of the reasons why using executive search firm is worth your money:
AP Executive is a world leading executive search firm with over 26 years of recruitment experience in wealth management, trust and fiduciary, investment banking, family offices and legal sectors worldwide. With an extensive industry network spanning over 55 international jurisdictions, we are the market leaders in executive search and selection. Our clients benefit from our specialist expertise in recruiting for niche financial sectors, as well as our innovative approach to candidate sourcing. As an affiliate member of APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies), we are committed to serving our clients with professionalism and integrity.
Have a talent acquisition requirement? Speak to one of our local consultants today.
As the Brexit debate is heating up, experts have started assessing the potential impact of the EU referendum not just on the mainland, but the channel Islands as well. Considering the Channel Islands’ unique status – neither a part of the UK nor the EU, it is worth discussing whether Jersey and Guernsey would be affected by the outcome.
Here we take a look at what the Brexit would mean for Jersey, a leading offshore financial centre.
So 23 June is looming upon us and the Brexit campaign has commenced. The gentlemen amongst us might be desperately scrabbling through diaries trying to remember the wife’s and/or girlfriend’s birthday, wedding anniversaries or other such days of note, but this is the day when finally the result on Britain’s membership of the EU will take place – a day most of us won’t forget. What possible impact could this have on our little 45 square miles of idyllic paradise? Well, given that 40% of Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Island comes from the Financial Services, one might argue quite a lot.
To not quite directly quote Senator Philip Bailhache, and not just him but a few other financial commentators, “we don’t really know but it might be quite bad” seems to be an answer frequently on the lips of many. It could be argued that a lot depends on what is the real view of the Channel Islands from the outside. If Brexit were to happen, it could be a voyage of discovery finding out what our international status really is – a tax haven or a low tax jurisdiction is the rhetoric from the naysayers, despite (correct) reassurance from Mr Cameron and the other 650 fine ladies and gentlemen packed into that building down SW1 way, of our long established, hard earned reputation as a superbly regulated, legitimate jurisdiction in which one may carry out their financial affairs should they wish.
The former would potentially be problematic one might expect. The glass is half empty brigade would maybe suggest that our special status that we have historically enjoyed with founder EU member states does not wash so well with newer, more cynical members; thus making it potentially more difficult to renegotiate this without help from our political older, bigger brother, the UK. I wouldn’t be so sure – having been present at a JFSC seminar last month, I would suggest that the best interests of the Island’s Financial Services industry are already represented in Europe. The JFSC is one of the most respected Commissions in the Offshore world, and the work of Jersey Finance to represent our industry is done with genuine meaning – it is not a propaganda steam train designed purely to induce investment from unsuspecting UHNW clients. A lot of investment has been made by Financial Service Providers in Jersey to comply with FATCA requirements. And by investment we should comprehend that this means more than just the financial aspect – investment in people, knowledge and learning, investment in IT, investment in relationship management with authorities. With CRS imminent, the infrastructure is already in place for openness and transparency whenever the requirement presents itself.
Jersey should embrace this opportunity to open dialogue with the more reticent, junior members of EU, whether Brexit materialises in June or otherwise. We have the chance to stand up for ourselves and remind those who view Jersey indifferently that, yes, agreed, we do not have the political independence from the UK, but we benefit from considerable autonomy, an independent identity and a highly acclaimed status for our Financial Services Industry. This doesn’t happen by accident, far from it, so we should embrace and develop our standing with those who know and understand us. To those more aloof toward us, we should present ourselves to them and encourage the build up of communications and the break down of barriers.
After all, should the glass not always be half full…?
* This article was originally written by Kieron Lambert, former Executive Consultant.
With the introduction of the new State Pension age in the UK, companies need to quickly and effectively adapt to the recent changes for better integration and engagement of the ageing workforce, according to Gina Le Prevost, CEO of AP Executive.
The suggestion for companies to give a better chance to over-50s and 60s comes after the official announcement for a new State Pension age in Britain from 6 April 2016, which was proposed in view of a dramatic rise in life expectancy. Currently, the state pension age is 65 for men and 63 for women; however, this is set for planned changes over the next few decades. From 2020, the State Pension age for both men and women will be 66, with an expected rise to age 67 between 2026 and 2028, and thereafter linked to life expectancy. These changes will directly impact the average retirement age, pushing it higher than it was before. Similar changes have been proposed in the Channel Islands, with Guernsey’s State Pension age expected to rise to 70 by 2025. In Jersey, the current Pension age is 65, which, under the current changes, will undergo increment by two months in every 10 months from 2020, until it reaches 67 in 2031. The average retirement age in most EU states is also expected to gradually rise to 67 by 2030, including in France, Germany, Spain, Greece and Italy.
Gina Le Prevost, commented: “With the new pension age legislations coming into place, it is important for companies to adjust accordingly and not have the historical retirement ages of 60 for women and 65 for men in their contracts and procedures. Jobseekers over 50s are now effectively able to work additionally a substantial 20 years before they reach their retirement age. This is fantastic news for people I speak to regularly who feel they are discriminated upon for being close to retirement. Companies have to adjust and embrace this new era of candidates who are now able to work longer. It gives hope to those people who feel they are too old to be able to start a new career.”
As the retirement age is slowly inching towards 70, it has become necessary for employers to take proactive steps to recruit, retain and embrace productive matured workers, maximising their potential and work performance. Given the constant technological changes, significant investment in the necessary training of the older staff is of critical importance, which coupled with the employees’ previous experience can give them a competitive advantage. When recruiting for a job, employers should consider a person’s qualification, experience and skills, without judging by the age. In fact, research shows that older employees are as productive as their younger counterparts (AgeUK Study).
A multi-generational and diverse workforce can be an asset for any company, where mature employees are engaged in mentoring and training of the younger members of staff with their vast professional experience and wise knowledge gained. The UK already has stringent age - discrimination law in place under The Equality Act 2010. Now Jersey’s new law protecting against age discrimination is expected to come into force on 1 September 2016, if approved by the States. Despite policy changes and laws against age-related discrimination, a recent report suggests a significant proportion of over-50s continue to be overlooked during hiring process due to certain age-old negative stereotypes (The Missing Million: Pathways back into employment). The representation of 50-64 year olds is particularly worse in Finance (20%), as compared to other sectors.
Gina added: “Although, age discrimination acts are in place and implemented, some companies still have presumptions and operate based on stereotypes against mature candidates. Companies should be doing all they can to retain the in-depth professional and organisational experience and knowledge this generation has developed and holds. Recruitment policies and procedures should be reviewed and job postings should not promote indirect discrimination by avoiding youth-oriented code words, such as “energetic” and “enthusiastic”.”
“Re-training of this demographic through development tools or encouraging key mature employees to stay past retirement through flexible working hours or mentoring opportunities should exist to create an inclusive and equitable workplace. Legislation on its own will not eliminate ageism in the workforce and companies have an integral part in creating an inclusive and fair environment that not only attracts, but also retains the skills of this demographic, including embracing mature generations.”
Given the advantages of an age diverse workforce, companies need to undertake measures against ageism in the workplace and facilitate entry of matured workers into the labour market.
AP Executive is a division of AP Group which opened in 1990. AP Group provides equal employer opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to sex, race, colour, National Origin, age, disability, religion, reprisal and genetic information.
Speaking as someone who has certain understanding of the recruitment industry in Jersey, and with the memory of being a candidate from my days in financial services still fresh in my mind, I thought I should share with you what things look like from the other side of the fence.
As we all know, Jersey is a small place. There are a finite number of companies advertising a finite number of roles.
The pushing and shoving between agencies to get their candidate out to a potential employer is almost palpable, but don’t be fooled into necessarily thinking that they have your best interests at heart. Far from it – pound signs glaze over their eyes, hoping to land a commission from an uncouth piece of "recruitment".
This is not how a recruitment agent should operate – the "if you throw enough muck at the wall, some will stick" mentality is to be avoided at all costs. Or else within weeks your CV will become diluted and worthless, through no fault of your own.
For this reason, you should be very careful when selecting the agency with whom you wish to work, and also avoid the enticement of window adverts and website roles which are either many months out of date or, worse still, never existed in the first place.
Your choice of agency should be very much like any choice you make in life – choose what is most appropriate for your circumstances and what is likely to benefit you the most. When choosing a recruitment agency, be pragmatic; if you are a Managing Director of a corporate service provider, would you want your agent to be involved with part time data input roles?; if you are a Senior Infrastructure Manager, would you register with agencies that specialise in the provision of building site labourers? Clearly not.
Therefore, at AP Group, we have clearly defined divisions of AP Executive (senior level appointments), AP GlobalEnergy (appointments in the oil and gas sector), AP Personnel (junior to mid-level appointments in finance and commercial sector) and AP Technical (IT/Communication appointments), each providing specialist recruitment service to job seekers.
When registering, it goes without saying that absolute discretion and confidentiality are assured, and the service you get will be tailored to suit you and your experience. Your CV will be sent, only with your express approval, to companies for specific jobs, and your application discussed with the hirer afterwards for feedback. The service provided is bespoke to each individual candidate, and not a hit and hope exercise in which your CV is sent in desperation to every company in the yellow pages without any forethought or applied knowledge.
It is, after all, the way recruitment should be done.
With 25 years of experience in providing bespoke professional service, we have developed an extensive client network and in-depth market knowledge, offering the highest standards of career management service to professionals.
*This article was written by Kieron Lambert, former Executive Consultant.
With complicated red tape and ever changing government tax legislations, there is considerable pressure on companies to efficiently manage payroll lest they be subjected to substantial financial loss.
A recent survey by PwC highlighted that the world’s biggest companies end up losing between £10m and £30m a year due to payroll errors. The task of effectively executing payroll can be daunting for most companies, especially smaller businesses. Compliance with updated legislation as well as accurate assessment of the employee status is crucial. Furthermore, sophisticated software packages are required to streamline the process and maintain accurate employee records. All this put tremendous pressure on the in-house payroll department of a company, adding to the administrative cost and additional resources.
With more and more companies looking beyond the domestic boundaries for high-skilled professionals, the global nature of the payroll has added to the woes of smaller enterprises. The international nature of the modern workforces means employees’ worth has to be tracked across different tax regimes. PwC anticipates an increase in payroll mistakes and consequent losses as 89% of respondent companies plan to increase their foreign workers intake.
Payroll errors not just affect a business financially but also employee-employer relationship. Employee loyalty is greatly determined by how much he/she is satisfied with the remuneration. Approximately 35% of over 1,000 respondents expressed they would look for a new job if the company failed to pay them correctly, according to a research from Sage UK.
Formulating effective payroll is an integral part of a business, and influences a company’s reputation among existing and prospective employees. Therefore, minimising errors should be the top most priority of companies.
However, most companies fail to evaluate the importance of paying employees correctly until they face the brunt of audits and penalties. Often financial constraints deter companies from devoting due attention to in-house payroll activities. In fact, training staff to specifically deal with payroll functions is not always economically viable for smaller businesses, let alone maintaining an in-house payroll department.
This is where outsourcing can be a prudent business decision. A recent research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) revealed that two in five business leaders globally either currently (or plan to) outsource back office functions; of which 36% are most likely to outsource HR and payroll services.
Outsourcing allows office staff to primarily concentrate on the core business areas, whilst leaving the complexities of payroll in charge of a professional payroll provider.
In addition to reducing the administrative burden, outsourcing payroll services significantly cuts down overhead expenditures. There is no need for investing in payroll software or staff training programs. Most importantly, the chances of being penalised for payroll errors are reduced to negligible – as payroll bureaux rely on expert knowledge and latest software to deal with accounting issues and frauds.
The need for strategic support for payroll operations as well as bolstering stronger employee loyalty, is driving companies both SME and large organisations to fully or partially outsource to a third-party vendor. By outsourcing payroll functions, companies can solely focus on activities that directly relate to their expertise, thus boosting productivity and nurturing business growth.
AP Executive Payroll Services are fully complaint with local legislation relating to employment, social security and income tax. Our services are flexible and can be tailored to suit your business needs.
We offer a part- or fully managed payroll services in Guernsey, Jersey and Cyprus.
Our service includes:
If you are interested to know more about our payroll services, then get in touch with us now:
Guernsey Payroll Services +44 1481 715757
Jersey Payroll Services +44 1534 715757
Cyprus Payroll Services +357 22 817823
As the first data exchange under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is due soon, financial institutions need to respond to the increased reporting pressures, whilst complying with the set parameters. Based on the USA’s tax law Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is the product of a global initiative involving 51 jurisdictions to facilitate efficient information exchange between jurisdictions and check tax avoidance.
Here is some advice on how the CRS can be turned into a “business opportunity” instead of an “administrative nightmare”, as it is widely perceived to be.
The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) is nearly upon us, and, quite surprisingly, it is approaching not with a bang, but a whimper. Whereas FATCA and EUSD were shouted from the rooftops, CRS seems to be creeping up with hardly a peep.
These initiatives involve governments obtaining information from their financial institutions and exchanging data automatically with other nations. Financial institutions (and other investment entities) will have significant additional reporting responsibilities, in order to disclose details of their account holders, with potential penalties for those unable or unwilling to comply fully.
Financial reporting will include all income and capital revenues, account balances, portfolio values etc, but whatever information is gathered, its impact is all dependent on the residency, or tax residency, of the individual(s) concerned.
To many Trust Directors, the ever increasing reporting requirements might seem like an additional chargeable administration that eats into WIP and bottom line figures; an additional support service such as compliance that reduces profit margins.
Perhaps though, this is not the way to view things. Depending on whether your glass is half full or half empty, this represents an opportunity to be pro active with your HNW clients.
Whilst many go about their annual review process as a tick box exercise to make sure due diligence and the like is in place, there is now an opportunity to re-assess your clients’ tax situation, and approach them to review their structures and their suitability for purpose. Could you streamline the whole administrative process for your biggest UHNW client? Could you win additional business from them as a result of your greater understanding of reporting requirements? Could you win business through referrals as a result of your pro-activeness?
With the correct guidance, the implementation of CRS could prove to be the biggest business development opportunity that has ever presented itself in many years.
At AP Executive, I am working with candidates having an in-depth subject matter expertise in the CRS and are well-equipped to deliver exceptional tax reporting service to clients.
*This article was written by Kieron Lambert, former Executive Consultant.
Are you a senior level executive looking for your next career step? Then you need to be aware of the potential challenges ahead of you and how we can help you overcome these hurdles.
There is a general perception that higher the career ladder, easier it is to land a job. However, these days this conception no longer holds water. Whilst graduates are struggling in the job market due to lack of experience, senior executives also face challenges in their job search, however for different reasons.
Here we have highlighted some commonly experienced difficulties in executive level job search. This is to help you understand the challenges that you may encounter when looking for the next career opportunity.
1. Difficult to find C-level jobs
Senior executive jobs are becoming increasingly difficult to find - be it for internal recruitment or lack of advertisement. In such a scenario, job search can be time-consuming, complicated and frustrating. Although this may not always mean a dearth of senior level openings, finding a perfect job match for C-level skills set can be long and tedious.
2. Failure to get an entry
There are several gatekeepers to senior executive positions. This complicates the hiring process and hinders entry. The company’s Human resource team, too, may not be of any help; they mostly cater for the recruitment of junior to mid-level candidates. A strong network of contacts can prove helpful here, along with superior references and referrals. Whilst right contacts can fetch the dream job, considering the high position and work-load, networking for job remains a difficult task for most senior level executives.
3. Filling up vacancies through internal hiring
Most companies find it safer to consider internal candidates for senior level positions. Hiring someone from outside can be expensive and time-consuming; they rather opt for internal recruitment instead of investing resources in training a new employee. However, an internal candidate may not always perfectly match the job criteria, and then the company needs to look for a better qualified candidate from outside.
4. Compromise with remuneration
Senior level executives enjoy numerous benefits, including a hefty salary. However, you may have to compromise with the remuneration when looking for a new position. Accepting a pay cut may be a prudent decision, if you get matched with the right position and achieve career progression.
5. Tougher competition
Executive searches are far more complicated and intensely competitive than other job searches. Navigating through the fiercely competitive executive job market requires innovative strategies, thorough research and of course, patience. You need to set your professional goals right and market yourself accordingly to the relevant potential employers.
6. Lost touch with interview skills
Executive level candidates, after having spent years in an organization, come to a point when they seek a new opportunity or career change. But they may not have faced a job interview for years, and often they are not well-prepared for an executive level interview. Interview stage is the first point of face-to-face contact between the executive candidate and the company. As the job vacancy is of high-profile level, company would want the best to fill in that role. Such powerful job positions usually attract multiple C-level candidates, so knowing the strategies to stand out from the crowd is crucial.
7. Not up-to-date with CV
– Often senior level jobseekers underestimate the importance of a professional CV. They let the CV gather dust, instead of keeping it updated and flawless at all times. In fact, they are fallible to similar mistakes which entry-level job seekers usually make. An executive CV should showcase the unique ‘selling-points’ of the individual and be carefully tailored to the specific job position.
AP Executive with years of experience in executive job search is uniquely placed to assist you in taking the next big career step. Our extensive network of contacts and clients, unrivalled by other recruiters, puts us at the forefront of executive search in wealth management and legal services.
Understanding the executive recruitment market on this scale gives our consultants unrivalled knowledge to ensure your skills are matched with the perfect job, where you not only get job satisfaction but also career progression.
Our consultants adopt a candidate-friendly approach, and are always on hand to provide private confidential advice. We offer expert advice on preparing for executive level interview and polishing your resume, so that you can smoothly sail through the recruitment process.
We aim to maintain long-term relations with our candidates, and keep in touch even after recruitment. We make sure that you are happy with our service at all times.
An international specialist finance, banking and legal recruitment firm AP Executive is a division of AP Group which opened in 1990 and is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this month. Since its inception as a recruitment provider to financial service organisations in Guernsey, AP Executive has emerged as a leader in its field and expanded from Guernsey to Jersey, Nicosia, Limassol, London, Geneva, Zurich and Singapore, with a Cayman office to be opened in September.
The vision of the company was conceived by founder and CEO, Gina Le Prevost, a professionally qualified and experienced recruitment specialist.
Gina Le Prevost said: “Reaching this massive milestone of 25 years hasn’t been without a lot of laughter but also with many tears too along the way. For AP Group to still be operational is truly a major achievement by AP Group’s directors and staff and for that I thank them for their loyal support, hard work and having had their wits about them during the difficult economic downturn.”
Besides AP Executive, AP Group has three other divisions, namely AP GlobalEnergy (appointments in oil and gas sector), AP Personnel (junior to mid-level appointment in finance and commercial) and AP Technical (IT/Communication appointments), each providing specialist recruitment service to clients and job seekers.
With an international reputation for its efficient, friendly and reliable recruitment services to both candidates and companies across the globe, AP Executive is the only truly ‘global’ recruitment firm to have been organically grown in the Channel Islands. It is also a member of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), reflecting its commitment to high professional and ethical standards.
However, the journey over 25 years, as Gina admits, has not always been a smooth one.
“Particularly since 2008 the recruitment industry has seriously been at the coal face of major job losses caused by the worst global recession in 100 years. The recruitment industry worldwide, along with many other industries, has battled through and suffered real hardship and pain, and difficult management decisions and job losses were made in order to survive”.
Nevertheless, Gina admits that it has been a “challenging experience and a steep business learning curve”, and with the hard work put in by all the employees, and the “economic conditions improving in more jurisdictions”, AP Group is seeing job market growth once again.
AP Executive has a strong global network of top professionals and reputed companies, and offers assistance with overseas recruitment of mid to senior level candidates in wealth management, trust, family office, funds and asset management, accountancy and legal sectors. The firm boasts of a team of highly dedicated and specialised recruitment consultants, and has an impressive track record of placing candidates at all levels of finance. They deal with more than 55 jurisdictions across the world.
Looking ahead to the future, Gina said: “I hope AP Group will continue to grow and our staff will continue to enjoy their work well into the next 25 years.”
She concludes: “I have exciting plans for AP Group’s future which we hope to implement in the not too distant future. I am as enthusiastic for AP Group’s success as I was 25 years ago when the first office officially opened in Guernsey on 1 July 1990. The beauty of business is that it doesn’t stand still, and with current social media affecting the way we think and the change in retirement laws, the recruitment world is still very exciting.”
Over the 25 years, AP Group and its specialist divisions have provided bespoke recruitment service to some of the leading international companies, and helped a number of high calibre candidates achieve their career goals.
How has your 2014 begun and your outlook for the rest of the year.
It has been a busy start to 2014 in contrast to a quiet run up to Christmas. Candidates are renewing searches as the New Year brings with it a desire for change and new opportunities. The majority of clients are busy with the 'review' and 'bonus' period coming up. I expect it to get even busier from March onwards.
It will be interesting to see how the recent Swiss vote to limit the flow of workers across its borders will impact our recruitment business, with a number of international and European candidates still seeking an entry into Switzerland the future of finance recruitment in Zurich may prove a tough market!
What are your key/top executive search business areas at the moment?
At present compliance and risk are certainly key areas. Wealth management continues to offer some interesting opportunities whilst Trust is definitely in decline. We currently have some interesting openings for business developers but clients are very demanding and targets are high in the majority of cases. In Asia the Trust market is very active, corporate trust in particular.
What are the 5 top sought after skills?
What is your top advice to candidates in today's market?
Patience! The process of finding the right role takes time.
Ensure your CV is up to date and includes all relevant information about prior experience, qualifications etc. Be open to ideas and flexible with regard to your expectations. When it comes to interview stage preparation is key. It is a very competitive market right now and clients demand the best. Ensure you understand the requirements, the nature of the business and what is expected of you. Research as much as possible so that you are prepared for all eventualities that may arise.
Describe your perfect job seeker
A good communicator is important for me. Someone who will call back and return emails and keep me informed of ongoing proceedings. Particularly when interviews have been arranged. Good experience combined with good qualifications are essential but also a good personality and a good attitude will help to ensure the candidate is remembered when that all important role lands on my desk.
Any additional comments
Switzerland is an attractive jurisdiction being centrally placed in Europe and amenable to a number of European countries. It has an excellent work life balance and plenty to do for professionals and those with families.
It's probably no surprise that the private client market in the UK is generally characterised as a buyer's market. To some extent this is correct, as businesses have encountered headwinds over the past few years. The most significant of these has been the economic uncertainty the UK has faced, particularly in relation to the European crisis. Clients have frequently lacked confidence in further investment, and this has led to fewer new opportunities.
There have been some encouraging signs of late, but until there is confidence in the private client community that the European crisis has played out and the risk of major shocks is significantly reduced, clients on the whole will remain circumspect.
This has also affected candidates' receptiveness to new opportunities, with many adopting a cautious approach. The better candidates do their due diligence, and rightly so, before embarking on what is often a long and arduous interview process.
Candidates with multi-jurisdictional and cross-border structuring experience are particularly attractive
This overall picture contrasts with pre-crisis market conditions, where clients had to compete far harder for the best talent. Nowadays, the client's approach to most recruitment exercises is one of caution and exacting demands. Often the process can take months, with endless interviews, and even then it can be halted at a moment's notice as another crisis erupts and the client pauses to think.
Of course the private client community is broad, and in a flat landscape there are some bright spots. Probably the most active part of the market is the family office segment, which has remained largely resilient to the global macro-economic problems. London, especially, is seen as one of the most attractive places to establish a family office, thanks to a stable political system, its own sovereign currency, a favourable time zone, and elite business services on tap, particularly in the legal, trust and finance community.
Private client accountants, tax, legal and trust professionals have opportunities in this field, as do those from the private banking, investment, operations and real estate world. Candidates with multi-jurisdictional and cross-border structuring experience are particularly attractive.
However, the barriers to entry are significant. Roles are not advertised and (if the right approach is taken by the recruiter) are not general currency in the market. Recruitment for family offices is often executed on a search basis, so if you get a call from a headhunter it means you are probably considered among the best in the STEP community and you should probably listen to what is being said, even if you have found utopia in your current role.
The mood among most clients is one of cautious optimism, which heralds a brighter outlook over the next 12 months. I believe there is pent-up demand and I detect a strong desire from clients to move forward with recruitment projects. The mood is slowly changing and, if we can sustain a period of calm, a very different picture will emerge.
If the economic downturn has finally affected you - you're out of work and you have to get out there and find a new opportunity for yourself - how do you start?
There's lots of advice available on how to find a new job - but all of it was written before the daily meltdowns we've recently experienced. Back in 2007, people believed in the banks, Lehman Brothers was viable, RBS wasn't owned by the government and people didn't question bonuses being paid to high-flying executives. But now it's a new world. If you want to differentiate yourself from other executives looking for their next leadership position, you have to ask yourself "What should I be doing differently in this new world to find my next career opportunity?"
The hard fact is that although the skills, talents and abilities that helped us find our last opportunity continue to be the strength and drawing card in finding our next opportunity - it's going to take more than that to land that new position in today's economy.
To begin with, you'll need to assess yourself - coldly - the way someone else would do if they were considering whether you were the one to lead their organization out of the darkness. We rarely take the time to step back to do a frank and critical assessment of our own gifts and talents while we're gainfully employed and enjoying our careers - were all to busy trying to get the work done! If you're in a position to take a break from daily deadlines, reconnect with people whose opinion you value. Ask them to honestly share with you what they believe to be your strongest skills and attributes.
Use this information to begin to create "The Portfolio of You". This will eventually include a well-written and thorough CV that should be reviewed and evaluated for every role you present "You" for.
Do your research; understand where your skills and attributes can best be used, both in your current role, but also in similar positions. You can cast the net wider but be careful about stretching your "transferrable" skills. Be realistic and remember that companies are looking for leaders who can solve problems right away, not "on the job learners".
Getting the product portfolio of "You" together, understanding your own unique features and the benefits you offer lays the groundwork for what's ahead.
Do it. Get on the phone. Call people. Talk to them. Keep moving. Don't stop. Sounds simple? It is. With this piece of advice I'm giving away the major competitive advantage of the Executive Search industry - because that's what we do! However, this can be applied to any industry. Nothing is more effective than getting on the phone and having focused and directed conversations with meaningful people.
But understand this. Right now everybody is networking! Given the times, the people you are calling have probably been called by other "You's" looking for work. You have competition!
In business, when you have competition you plan, you think, you strategize - so do the same now! You may be unemployed but you're still in business - and you're definitely in competition.
Approach each conversation from the perspective of adding value to both sides. Your stated objective might be to review a compelling business idea, to share what's worked in your search to date, or to gain their help in researching what's next for you, but giving your contact a reason to see and refer you is important. Take time in the conversation to ask about their needs - ask them how you can help them in their current role or in gaining an advantage in their business and offer whatever assistance or resources you can. In this way you'll build a mutually beneficial relationship that will last for years and provide value to both of you on an ongoing basis.
It is truly a different world than it was, oh, say two years ago! Yes it's still about people, and about talking to everyone you have ever met and known but now, technology has made this easier - or has it? Now we have "Social Networking" tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Blogs, RSS Feeds and many others allow you to reconnect with individuals you have lost track of, or find that ever elusive name you just can't find and get up to date with whatever they're into now - BUT! They don't take the place of having an actual relationship with these people. You can use these tools for research purposes, but if you expect a real person to take a real interest in your situation - get on the phone, set up a face-to-face meeting and get real with that person.
And one more thing. There's been a lot of press over the last few years about employers scouring the net to find scary or inappropriate details about candidates' past or present on social networking sites like Facebook and others. To a certain extent this is true, but privacy laws in the UK, Europe and worldwide have begun to offer a bit of protection. A few years ago the candidate management software that many major employers and search firms use to store your CV, phone numbers, email addresses and notes from the meetings with you also included sophisticated tools that automatically searched the web looking for your personal web pages, Facebook tags, blog entries etc. and then added direct links to them in our files. We didn't have to go looking for this information anymore - it was automatically delivered to us! In the last four years these features have been removed from most commercial recruitment database tools but, those of us who are familiar with performing detailed web searches can still turn up an extraordinary amount of personal data. It's all there for us to see, so make sure that what EVER you put on the web isFit for Potential Employer Consumption!
First of all - identify several Executive Search professionals with active practices in your area of interest and target each of them with a specific and focused message. Send an email discussing briefly what your background is and what your search objectives are. Ask if they would be willing to speak to you about your search strategy. Attach your CV, then follow up with a phone call. If you call with a specific purpose, other than "Do you have a position for me?", search consultants will be less likely to dismiss you and will spend time with you.
Remember that these meetings are part of your over all networking process - so just as you would with any other meeting, make sure you bring something to the table. Having something to offer means you're just not asking for a favour - you're looking to build an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship. Ask the Search Professional about their practice area. Offer information that might be of value, or to introduce them to key people in the sector. Ask how you can help them with their current assignments. You have your own network to offer up and this makes you a valuable member of theirs.
Follow up with them periodically. Advise them if there are significant developments in your search, changes in your status or your contact information. Bring them new, relevant information when you receive it, so that you continue to add value to the relationship.
Change is constant in business just as it is in life, and the skills and talents that are most in demand today might be different from the last time you sought a new position. Your dream may have been to find your next role in Trust, Fund Administration or Real Estate but the reality of today's world is that those sectors are not growing as fast as they did in the past. It is always easier to fish in a stocked pond so, in today's world you need to examine how your "gifts" will best fit in industries that are growing such as Investment Management, Private Banking and the commercial sector which is supported by a number of government sponsored initiatives and more. Understanding how your particular skills can be directly applied within these sectors is critical to making a successful transition.
Ultimately, successful networking and search campaign will begin to achieve your objective - interviews. Each time you have the opportunity to sit down with someone to discuss an opportunity for you to add value to their organization, be prepared!
Research the company - read their annual & quarterly reports and news releases. More than likely, they're available on their websites. Use search engines like Google to learn more. See if there are blogs by executives, past or present employees or users. Learn all you can about the company's structure, plans, opportunities, challenges and how you can apply you skills and talents to the company. It is often the simplest of things that make the difference. Remember when your mum told you that you only get one chance to make a first impression - it's true! It starts with the impression you make on the Receptionist with your first call, your contact's Administrative Assistants, whomever you meet! Everyone has influence in the process.
After the interview:
Ask yourself honestly, "How did the meeting go?", "What would I do differently next time? What can I improve upon?", "Did I add any value to the other person's day".
Remember - as a great philosopher once said, "Feedback is a gift!", so if you're the only person who can evaluate the success of the interview, be honest with yourself and make positive changes for the next time.
In this world of electronic communications an email is expected as a thank you. A hand-written note or card exceeds expectations.
Remember that 6 months ago you may have been the best talent out of a field of 100 people. Today the field is larger you might be the best out of 1000 potential candidates. It has become more difficult for great employers to find you. You can make their process easier by utilizing focused and effective networking techniques.
Add the right contacts, a great CV, superior references and you will have everything you need to find employment in one of the most competitive markets in decades.
Guernsey has a reputation as a safe and secure jurisdiction, offering robust corporate governance, innovative wealth management solutions and the professional expertise of some of the most highly regarded people in the industry, the island has managed to weather the economic storm better than most.
So how exactly has the island faired over the past twelve months?
2009 saw many firms constrained by headcount freezes, often driven out by head offices as a result of adverse conditions affecting their businesses on a global scale. Those that were still able to recruit often did so cautiously, resulting in a recruitment process that could take many months to complete. This, coupled with a wider sense of unease and uncertainty amongst candidates, as well as employers, made for testing times.
The contrast between then and now is thankfully marked. Headcount freezes have, in the main, been lifted and there is a positive sense of optimism amongst recruiters and candidates. Whilst there have been some high-profile corporate casualties, there are also major players putting Guernsey at the very forefront of their global business strategy, and are rapidly establishing the island as the hub of their wealth management business across the whole EMEA region.
The outlook for smaller, locally-based, independent firms would also appear optimistic. There are certainly challenges to be faced, such as keeping pace with ever increasing operating costs and the demands for increased corporate governance and compliance. However the ability to remain nimble and pro active, delivering innovative, bespoke solutions to ever more demanding clients, at a time when bigger firms are often weighed down by greater levels of bureaucracy, can give these firms a vital competitive edge.
Conveniently located and combining a world class business infrastructure with a genuinely cosmopolitan and highly attractive standard of living sees Guernsey continuing to attract high profile businesses and individuals to its shores. Last year saw the likes of Terra Firma boss Guy Hands take up residence here and this year has seen Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button choose the island as his primary residence. We are also seeing an increase in high profile hedge funds also relocating their operations to Guernsey.
For these individuals and businesses Guernsey does appear to tick all the right boxes. However, whilst its ranking in global financial centre league tables remains strong, the island’s government and leading industry figures continue to raise awareness and forge greater links with emerging markets. At the same time the commitment to greater tax transparency and the preservation of the island’s competitiveness, whilst satisfying its EU neighbours, remains a top priority.
Guernsey has now signed a total of 17 TIEAs (tax information exchange agreements). The latest being with Greece. There are also further agreements likely to be signed over the coming months.
In recognition of the Far East’s rapid rise to prominence, Guernsey has also been strengthening its relationship with key figures in the region. Events such as the recent visit to Beijing and Shanghai by Guernsey Finance Chief Executive Peter Niven, the Island’s Chief Minister Lyndon Trott and the Lord Major of the City of London are becoming increasingly commonplace.
Looking ahead, next February’s ‘Future of Trusts’ conference, featuring key international speakers from the UK, Switzerland, China and India and covering such hot topics as Indian Wealth, Chinese Private Clients and Sharia Law, will only further enhance Guernsey’s reputation as a cutting edge wealth management jurisdiction.
So for professionals investigating employment opportunities on the island, how are things shaping up?
With responsibilities to the island that extend beyond safeguarding the interests of individual organisations, the government of Guernsey continues to regulate the influx of non-locally qualified workers into the island’s financial sector. Therefore before firms can look to apply for the necessary permits to recruit off-island, they do need to provide sufficient evidence that they have made every reasonable attempt to recruit a local candidate.
There are however still some great opportunities for exceptional international candidates, who can bring with them a high level of experience and relevant expertise. Salaries remain competitive in the global offshore market and other contributing factors, such as the island’s 20% maximum rate of personal income tax, extremely safe and secure environment and attractive quality of life means that Guernsey is often at, or near the top of our candidates’ wish list of jurisdictions.
With wealth management professionals becoming increasingly mobile, we are also seeing an increase in expats looking to return to Guernsey. Over the past year AP Executive has placed a number of high profile returnees with firms on the island. The fact that these professionals, who have spent a number of years in other jurisdictions building their careers and are at the very top of their game, are choosing to return to the island now, is an excellent testament to the esteem in which the island is held in the international community and to the employment opportunities that currently exist here.
Mike Bonsall is a Manager for AP Executive, a specialist global private wealth management consultancy.
For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm an Executive Search Consultant and as such, I spend about a third of my time searching for well-qualified people to match my clients' vacancies. Another third of my time is spent with those clients, learning about their organizations in order to develop as deep an understanding about their corporate culture as possible. The final third is spent counselingandadvising people whoarelooking forwork- whether currently employed, the product of a redundancy or have experienced other job loss.
Over the ten years I've been in the business I've made some interesting observations. Among them is this one: the "Psychological Contract" has changed! The Psychological Contact is a well-known theory in HR management that describes the unwritten agreement or commitment between employer and employee. According to Wikipedia, "apsychological contractrepresents the mutual beliefs, perceptions, and informal obligations between an employer and an employee. It sets the dynamics for the relationship and defines the detailed practicality of the work to be done. During the recruitment process, the employer and interviewee will discuss what they each can offer in the prospective relationship. If agreement is reached, most employers will impose a standard form contract, leaving the detail of the employee's duties to be clarified "on the job". But some of the initial statements, no matter how informal and imprecise, may later be remembered as promises and give rise to expectations."
But things are changing. I tell candidates that generations ago, we were accustomed to having schools, government,andour employersplanout our livesandlookout for our best interests. These assumptions were so pervasive in society that skepticsandparanoids began echoing the Orwellian decree, "Big Brother is watching you!"
Well, nowadays, not only is Big Brother not watching you, he's quite preoccupied with his own problems!
Employers used to plan career paths for their employees, providing them with training and development opportunities and focusing on promoting from within. Up until the late 1980s, loyalty was the best attribute an employee could offer in addition to a strong skill set. It wasn't unusual for a person to spend 20 or 30 years, or even their whole career with the same company.
But we now live in an age where society expects us to take much more responsibility for our own lives than ever before. This is why you must train yourself to be a career-minded person: someone who's constantly evaluating their current job situation against their career goals; someone who's en route to meeting their career objectives by making mid-course adjustments along the way. Being career-minded is not a mindset; it's a way of life.
As a recruiter, it's my job to evaluate people to see if they're right for the roles my clients ask me to fill. I interview between 500 and 750 people a year, so I have a great perspective on the candidate marketplace. Many of the people I meet have the qualifications my clients are asking for, but they hire me to give them more than that. They want potential superstars: people who will fit the culture of the organization; people who are always thinking about success - people who are career-minded.
Here are four easy ways to become a more career-minded person:
1. Take responsibility for your own career by having a plan.
If you don't know where you're going, you're never going to get there. Career-minded people have an idea of what they'd like to be doing or where they'd like to be professionally five years from now. Setting goals today helps you figure out what you ought to be doing tomorrow to achieve them. Review your career history to determine what's missing from your personal portfolio to be qualified for the job you want in the future.
2. Maintain the "always-on" job search.
Career-minded people always think about winning their next role. This doesn't mean you're distracted in your current job or disloyal to your current employer, but you've got to constantly assess the value of the work you're doing in terms of its ability to prepare you for bigger and better things in the workplace. Question whether your current job is taking you in the right direction, or if it's taking you towards a dead end. Also, keep your CV up-to-date and circulate it to people for their feedback. Your goal is to remain top-of-mind whenever a lucrative job opportunity comes along.
3. Work with recruiters to manage your career.
Career-minded people will work with a few well-chosen recruiters. They're the ones who will take interest in your plans and be your best long-term career allies. Select recruiters that specialize in your specific job market and are interested in developing long-term relationships with the best prospective candidates in their field of expertise. Most recruiters are "mandate driven," and the faster they can fill roles assigned by their clients, the better. So, sit down with them and market yourself beyond your CV - they know a candidate's CV only tells half the story, anyway. Be candid about your professional goals and objectives, too. This way, recruiters can recommend you to clients for roles consistent with your long-term plans.
Also, touch base with your recruiter regularly. Let them know when you move homes or change jobs so they always have your latest contact information. Call them when you're considering a new job offer or a promotion and use them as a sounding board to confirm that the move is consistent with your plan.
4. Engage in "CONTEXTUAL" networking.
Whether it's through industry associations, volunteer board commitments, or social events, networking is the best way for career-minded people to get engaged with their business community and initiate mutually beneficial relationships with their peers. The advantages of networking are endless, and go beyond simply meeting new people and passing out your business card. For example, networking events are a way to learn about other people's success: how did they get where they are now, and what was their career strategy? They're also a way for you to rub shoulders with potential employers and make lasting impressions on decision-makers in your field. After all, some of the best jobs are obtained through positive referrals from people you meet at networking events.
Gone are the days where you could rely on other people to map out your career for you. Now, it's all about strategically planning your own professional future and packaging yourself as a career-minded individual with tangible and desirable skills on the job market. After all, this is your career: you own it, you shape it, and only you can control it.
Forget Big Brother. It's time for you to make your own breaks!
This article was written by Hugh Munro, Former Manager, AP Executive, Jersey
The wealth management industry, by its very nature, is truly global. That's why AP Executive is active in more than 45 jurisdictions around the globe, and along with Jersey has further offices in Guernsey, London, Geneva, Zurich and Cyprus servicing international candidates and clients.
Organically grown in Guernsey in1990, the AP Group particularly stands out from its competitors in the Channel Islands. This is due to our international reach of candidates and clients who put their reliance on our global knowledge and expertise in wealth management and IT. Trust and fiduciary in particular, which is a niche global industry of more than17,000 employees has steadily grown over the years and gives candidates the opportunity to travel to various jurisdictions and add international experience to their careers. AP Executive plays an important part in career development for trust professionals by having the expertise and knowledge of the global trust market which local 'High Street' agencies do not. We can guide and advise you on living and working in such places like the Caribbean and Miami, plus Latin America, Asia and Europe as our consultants travel to these destinations annually so have the ability to have first hand knowledge and contacts. We are staffed by qualified consultants who network with international clients on a regular basis and who specialise in all different areas of wealth management.
For example, the Jersey office, which I manage, is responsible for local recruitment as well as in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Cayman as well as the US and Luxembourg.
This global emphasis is much more than just notching up new markets where we can do business. It's an integral part of providing a professional and personal service in an industry where international expertise is so important. Our aim is to fill vacancies with the very best candidates, regardless of national borders.
Of course in small jurisdictions, such as Jersey and Guernsey, we do provide our local clients with quality locally experienced candidates too. In our experience, Jersey and Guernsey employers far prefer to take on a local candidate as first preference, rather than bringing in professionals from outside the islands.
However, it isn't always possible to fill a senior vacancy locally. This is usually due to specific professional qualifications needed or expertise required which is either new to the island or not readily available. This is where AP Executive is best placed in the local recruitment market to be top of its field for providing global knowledge and professional guidance to local employers.
With our database of professionals around the world, we can quickly identify those candidates who might be suited to any particular local vacancy. This often means considering more than just the professional qualifications of the applicant, important though that is. When moving from one jurisdiction to another it's also important to consider all of the other factors. There's not much point in placing a highly qualified candidate in a jurisdiction where they are unable to adapt to a different lifestyle or way of working.
Our international network of candidates and clients helps us to provide much more than just a recruitment service. We are consultants who can help in many aspects of the process, including costs for accommodation, schooling for children - even the best restaurants to sample!
While our particular niche is in the area of wealth management, we also have expertise in related areas such as compliance, wealth planning, funds and investments.
Our expertise in wealth management has been recognised by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) with whom we have been partners for nearly ten years. We regularly attend STEP conferences around the world, and promote the benefits of STEP qualifications.
Qualifications such as these are a crucial first step for any candidate, but experience is also a massive advantage, particularly in the Channel Islands. We find that many local candidates are happy to go overseas to gain international experience for a few years, and then return to the islands equipped to take up a senior position. Others may choose to stay overseas, and it's not uncommon for Channel Island professionals to move to other jurisdictions to gain international exposure for most of their career before bringing back to their islands their knowledge and in most cases a second language !
This free flow of expertise is essential to the Channel Islands. . We must do everything possible to help locally qualified candidates and ensure that they have the skills and experience required, and that may mean allowing them a 'leave of absence' from the island which doesn't restrict them from returning with ideas from other shores. This is still the case even during the current uncertain times.
Most small jurisdictions impose time limits for non-local staff, but they are generally welcomed for the essential roles they play. There is a misconception in Jersey, for example, that non local staff are not welcome. As mentioned, it is certainly true that employers will favour local staff, but there are licences available for those from outside who have the qualifications and international experience to make a significant contribution to the industry. Certainly both employers and candidates are more cautious at present, although in some emerging markets there is little sign of recession. Until the European situation is resolved and the UK government stops trying to put trading restrictions on the islands then we have no choice but to remain cautiously optimistic of a buoyant economic climate returning.
It is certainly true, however, that economic difficulties have injected a new sense of realism into the recruitment market. Candidates are being much more realistic about salaries and about the ease with which they can move into a new job.
The emphasis on experience and skills is likely to continue and we are a keen supporter of local efforts to improve the skills base. We have entered into a partnership with the Jersey International Business School and will support them where we can. We are a global company but never forget our roots and will continue to promote the Channel Islands as an excellent place to improve careers and lifestyles.
AP Group was established by chief executive Gina Le Prevost in Guernsey in 1990. She had worked in the finance sector and realised that there was a niche for a high quality recruitment agency, and the business was an instant success.
The company developed and branched out into different locations and specialist divisions were created. AP Group felt that a consultant who had worked in a particular area of business was better equipped to help clients and candidates in their area of experise, rather than having generalists attempting to cover everything.
As well as AP Executive, the group now also includes AP Technical (recruitment for IT, telecommunications and electronics), and AP Personnel for temporary, contract and permanent posts junior to mid level likely to attract salaries of less than £45,000 per annum.
This article was written by a Former Executive Consultant and first published in Business Brief, Channel Islands
What is a family office?
A standard family office article usually always starts with the same question: what is a family office? Most readers will have a rough idea of what a family office is, but when it comes to the recruitment of staff for a family office this can surprisingly create a wide chasm of requirements depending on the business culture of the client. At the STEP Geneva conference in May 2011, a delegate questioned the definition of the usage of the words ‘family office’. This is because a family office can be a trust company, an independent asset manager, a private equity company with few employees, a multi-family office the size of small private bank, or a really well institutionalised single family office with 100+ staff, investing in various assets such as real estate, hedge funds or private equity. The recruitment needs of a family office can vary significantly according to the family office infrastructure. One thing is for certain: It is a complex and an opaque environment.
Family office trends:
Numerous wealth managers see the private wealth management market becoming increasingly more competitive. Targets will still be difficult to achieve; heavy risk management processes and paperwork make work more demanding and methodical. We hear through the media that clients have lost confidence in the security of alternative investments and now ask for safe investments and independence. In these conditions, we can anticipate that the family office concept will seduce more and more UHNW individuals who are now seeking a qualitative approach and customised be-spoke services rather than a sophisticated products-oriented attitude that was standard a few years ago. A significant number of wealthy families emerged worldwide with an awareness of the benefits to create an independent business such as a single family office. It was commonly agreed that US$ 250 million was a minimum requirement to create a single family office (SFO) structure and US$ 500k for a multi family office (MFO). Now, according to some of our clients, it seems that US$150 million is already a good start, allowing the beneficiaries to have a simple platform with outsourced services. It is known that MFO’s look after UHNW clients. But a new trend could be for these infrastructures to now want a closer look at smaller clients in the affluent to ultra affluent client’s bracket.
The Recruitment Paradox:
For UHNW families, one of the major issues when it comes to recruiting someone is to find the equilibrium between a trusted advisor and qualified professional. When an UHNW client decides to create his own single family office, the principal or business owner looks into his/her private network of business contacts to find them a trusted advisor. However, doing it this way can reduce the chance to tap into a pool of professionally experienced international talent. To ensure the success of a start-up like a single family office, it needs a strong executive, CEO, CIO or Head of family office at the helm. Usually because of the rather small size of the company structure and its complexity, a versatile individual with varied skills (trust, all asset classes’ investment, tax and legal knowledge across boarder, management and diplomatic skills, multi-lingual etc) is recommended. Finding these unique types of candidate is not an easy task for a recruiter. A broad spectrum of search and selection for the right candidate usually on a global basis is key to the success of the role being filled by a specialist recruiter.
Family office talent ranges from private client lawyers, to fund managers to senior bankers (investment or private), to tax and trust specialists with cross-border expertise, to accounting and financial experts with strong reporting and controlling skills to concierge professionals with first class customer services and diplomatic skills. Not forgetting the important and dedicated executive assistants, available to the client 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Family governance, philanthropy and arts professionals are becoming increasingly popular profiles. It is worth mentioning that one type of candidate profile which can always be of interest for family office (regardless the size of the structure) are real estate professionals. This area of expertise is due to the large majority of family offices focusing their investments in the global commercial and property development markets. We at AP Executive can identify a general trend, it is recognised that ‘interpersonal skills’ are a very important requirement for our clients. Personality and chemistry is another major factor requested by our family office clients, plus, they want any staff to be professionally discreet and loyal too. Working for a family office is financially rewarding but you have to be flexible and dedicated. Employees need to offer a "tailor made customer service" mindset and not take their position for granted. Last but not least, the capacity to institutionalise the family office is also something well regarded, especially when the strategy of the family office is to grow to the next stage (Single to Multi or SFO wanting to diversify its investment activities).
What are the misconceptions about family office?
I very often have the perception that a family office environment is thought of as a type of ‘glamorous’ refuge by people I speak to who are possibly disenchanted in working for a corporate entity and looking for career advice. They feel they could strive and get the proper career path that they have always been seeking by seeking a role in this niche professional industry. Family offices are most of the time small entities built and developed by business entrepreneurs looking for key players that can bring their broad knowledge and expertise. When family offices are institutionalised the recruitment needs by our clients are even more complex. International professionals with exceptional pedigrees are mainly favoured. Working in a family office environment has got its pros and cons like any other profession. The upside is to work for a cash rich environment which has a direct reporting structure and flat decision making, without the lengthy bureaucratic procedures. Candidates usually desire the ability to be able to have direct contact with the family whilst utilising their cultural management skills with flexibility. A career in the world of Family Office is a special one and because of this our clients can ‘cherry pick’ the best candidates for the job, the competition is still fierce.
People in banking jobs may be interesting in the opinion of one analyst who has suggested the government should be looking for other methods of stimulating the economy rather than quantitative easing (QE).
Justin Cooke, chair of the British Interactive Media Association, said the prospect of a further round of QE would be "a short-term fix which ultimately dilutes the value of sterling."
Instead, he suggested the coalition could be taking measures to promote investment in the country and increase international trade as steps towards boosting the recovery.
He also stated encouraging banks to lend to small and medium enterprises could be another way to increase the nation's growth, which has slowed recently with gross domestic product figures for the third quarter showing an increase of 0.8 per cent, down from 1.2 per cent in the second quarter.
Mr Cooke did however express optimism for the future, noting businesses were becoming more confident and had "responded brilliantly" to current market conditions.
Individuals working in finance jobs may be among those who are unnecessarily losing money because they feel guilty or embarrassed about claiming back expenses they are entitled to from their employers. According to a survey conducted by Concur, one in five employees spends cash on work costs of up to £270 that they do not try and get reimbursed for, while five per cent shell out over £600 per year from their own pocket on legitimate expenses. Financial adviser and TV presenter Lawrence Gold observed that another reason for people failing to claim what they are entitled to could be laziness, with many people deciding that it is too much hassle to fill out the paperwork. "If you think about it logically, we are really good at switching utility providers and saving between £200 and £300 a year, but when we're spending our money for our employer's benefit we don't claim it back," he said. He added that considering the tough economic times we live in, people should be doing more to ensure they are not wasting money unnecessarily.
The tendency towards the increased hiring of wealth and tax planners we observed last year was confirmed and this area still remains active. This has resulted due to the numerous changes of regulations which is increasing potential cross border issues. Foreign tax specialists are highly required by our clients to assist with the efficient complex structuring of the wealth of private clients. In conjunction we have also observed an increase of recruitment needs for the compliance and anti money laundering divisions particularly of private banks and asset managers.
Private bankers, "hunters" able to attract new clients, are still very high priority to the main players. Attention is still turned towards emerging markets, in particular Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia - African countries is also becoming an interesting market. The Swiss onshore coverage comprising of Swiss nationals and wealthy foreign residents in Switzerland, is the second priority. Foreign banks with offices in either Geneva or Zurich are developing more and more their coverage of this 'onshore' market, by developing teams of foreign national bankers targeting customers from their own community of language and culture residing in Switzerland.
AP Executive has also noticed a growing interest towards the institutional and semi-institutional clients both based in Switzerland and abroad. More and more players target these clients with offers of a wide range of financial products. It has resulted in heavy recruitment of sales and relationship management professionals.
In the trust and fiduciary arena, we see that companies are looking at consolidation rather than at expansion. Family Offices are growing and new ones are sprouting, who are seeking highly specialised professionals - investment advisors, wealth and estate planners, portfolio managers, and concierge professionals in particular. Indeed, more and more ultra wealthy private clients consider this the best alternative providing them with independence as well as a dedicated round the clock service from top quality staff.
Due to the international network of AP Executive offices, which includes our presence in Zurich and Geneva, international candidates consult us to assist them in successfully finding a role in Switzerland which is still the country of preferred choice to live and work in. Indeed the country is a very attractive destination for professionals in the financial and wealth management industries. It is seen by many as the place to gain international experience and accelerate careers. The quality of life and work balance is very good. Zurich and Geneva are ranked highly each year as the most enjoyable cities to live in. Switzerland's position at the heart of Europe makes the country a central hub and easily connected. The Swiss economy and the political system are still very stable. Salaries are high with a ratio salary / cost of living often more interesting than in most other European economies.
Job seekers looking to relocate must be aware that Switzerland is a highly competitive market. During the past two years due to the global economic downturn, we are observing a significant increase in the time involved in the recruitment process at all levels of seniority. There is an increase of foreign candidates actively looking for a new job as a result of the global financial crisis. The current job market is definitely an employer's market place. Thus, it creates greater competition between candidates. A solid technical know-how is no longer seen as enough to make a difference. Besides track record, experience and network, the choice of the successful candidate is often based on the quality of their social and client relationship management skills. That said there are still pockets of experience which is still a busy active employees market place those are Swiss qualified lawyers, compliance and anti money laundering professionals, wealth planners and private bankers with an interesting amount of assets under management. Swiss employers can afford to be fussy and choosy for certain staff requirements in this market place, particularly operational roles. The global job market is becoming more and more cosmopolitan and languages are becoming a key requirement for jobs. To only speak English these days in most jobs is not enough. In answer to a more complex working environment, the more languages spoken and written the better. It is quite typical for us to come across candidates speaking at least three to four languages fluently, and up to 5 proficiently.
The present ones which are popular are French and German particularly with Switzerland being historically a multi language country however other European languages required are Portuguese and Spanish for Latin American clients. Mandarin and Cantonese will be languages which will be sought after by clients. We are already seeing a number of Swiss clients focusing on their Asian operations in Singapore and Hong Kong and the opportunities of opening new offices in China.
This article was written by Emmanuel Auperin, Former Manager of AP Executive in Zurich
This article was first published in Private Client Practitioner
Companies looking to fill positions such as private banking jobs need to take care they hire the right people for the job, as any mistakes could end up being very costly. According to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), a lack of skills among potential candidates makes finding the best candidates a challenging process. "It is worth investing some time and resource in getting it right," noted the REC's director of policy and professional services Tom Hadley. "The reality is that the real cost of recruitment is getting it wrong." He was speaking in response to a study carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce that found recruitment is one of the biggest concerns for small and medium-sized enterprises. Over four out of ten employers estimated the cost of hiring a new staff member is over £2,000, while just over half used external agencies to fill their vacancies. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed there was a rise in the number of people working in the private sector in March, up 143,000 on the previous quarter.
One of the beauties of working in the finance industry is the ability to go and ply your trade somewhere completely different. In the field of trust, there will be things to learn in terms of local legislation and idiosyncrasies, but essentially it's a case of 'have skills, will travel'. Some of the more exotic jurisdictions have been an option for many years - the BVI and Cayman, for instance - but one that will surprise some people is Cyprus.
After a recent history in which the chief industry was tourism, the island is now well and truly on the map as an international business centre. While the island prides itself on an excellent education system (based on the British model), finance is such a recent arrival there that it can't hope to be self-sufficient with regard to qualified staff for several years.
As in many relatively small places (the population is just under 800,000), the workforce has to be boosted by trained people, not just in this industry, but also in all sorts of others.
Also, there are strict controls on bringing in non-locals, with companies obliged to demonstrate that they have made every effort to recruit a Cyprus resident before they are permitted to look elsewhere.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism is adamant that the island is well catered for within its own shores.
'We have a surplus of qualified people,' said a spokesman. 'Also, the unions are very strong and they're reluctant to see foreign workers coming in. For the moment we can supply the needs of businesses.'
However, our own experience as a global recruitment firm tells us that there are opportunities in Cyprus. While having one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the EU is generally considered a good thing, it does present problems for employers in the lack of available candidates.
Cyprus is a popular location for international consultants, contractors and expatriate workers who do find themselves allowed in. Because this is a former British colony, English is spoken fluently by about 90 per cent of the population, and all major roads and towns are signposted in English and Greek. With a lower cost of living than most of Europe, an excellent climate,
an English public-school system (from pre-school to university level) and one of the lowest
crime rates in Europe, it is not difficult to see why this is considered an excellent place to work and bring up a family.
On 1 May 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union, which means that EU nationals can live and work there without the need for work permits and with no currency restrictions. While the cost of living is lower, it must be taken into account that salaries are often less than in other European countries. However, out of the ten new member countries that joined the EU at that time, Cyprus has the highest GDP and income per head of population.
Now that it has EU membership, the island is ideally placed for international companies trading in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It currently enjoys the lowest corporate tax rate in the EU (ten per cent). This, coupled with the fact that Nicosia, the capital, ranks as one of the least expensive of the leading international centres, also makes Cyprus an attractive destination for the international business community.
Healthcare is free for all EU nationals - only in private clinics do you have to pay - and every town has its own hospital.
So, the standard of education is excellent, salaries are relatively low, and company tax is ten per cent. All in all, the situation is similar to Dublin before the boom, although obviously the climate is very different - and that can hardly be considered a complaint.
All this has not gone unnoticed in the international business community. More than 30 foreign banks have established a presence here, along with upwards of 1200 international business corporations who have fully fledged offices. On the trust front, among the big names are IFG, Amicorp, Citco, Mutual Trust and Consulco.
Something of which the Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Trade is very proud is its 'one-stop shop' designed to smooth the path of any new business in Cyprus. The idea is to make it possible to complete all the procedures and acquire all the necessary permits within seven days of the initial application. Although that might be optimistic, it is clear that the island is moving in the right direction.
The government has been intent on 'transforming Cyprus into a regional hub for research and development' and attracting foreign investment in what it calls 'the field of high-tech, knowledge-based products and services which contribute towards the transfer of advanced technological expertise.' The island has dramatically increased the number of people employed in high-tech areas.
And what of all the people needed to fill the positions? The aforementioned well-educated young people are obviously ideal candidates in many areas, and their fluency in the local language makes them particularly desirable in the civil service, where it is largely Cyprus dealing with Cyprus and connections are vital.
In other areas of work, there is little choice but to recruit from outside the island. The world is becoming ever more accustomed to upping sticks and going where the professional action is, but obviously it is important for anyone considering such a drastic change to be fully aware of what they are taking on. Until about five years ago, Cypriot companies often took a do-it-yourself approach, spending valuable time and money on looking for staff perhaps thousands of miles away.
Increasingly, though, they have joined the international firms in realising that there are specialist consultancies that can do it for them - and increase the chance of making the right appointment.
Tourism has not been ignored, with attempts being made to boost visitor figures outside the peak months. This is a place where all-year-round tourism is a realistic proposition, as even in January, which locals might consider the depths of winter, there is often bright sunshine and a pleasant temperature.
Again, this contributes to the island's appeal for those wanting to move from areas where gales and sleet can take the edge off their desire to leave the house and go to work.
The government is promoting the phenomenon of 'medical and wellness tourism', combining the good weather with the much-trumpeted healthcare facilities and expertise.
Cyprus trust law began with the Cyprus Trustee Law Chapter 193, based on the English Trustee Act 1925, but the island's trust regime was brought into line with normal international practice with the International Trusts Law 69(I) of 1992. The result is that there are three types of trust available, of which only the last will normally be of interest to the international settlor:
Local trusts are governed by English common law and the original trustee law. The settlor and beneficiaries are normally residents of Cyprus, and the trust and its property are subject to exchange controls.
Offshore trusts are equally outside the international trusts legislation, and are the same as local trusts except that their beneficiaries must be non-resident and all the trust's activities must be outside Cyprus.
International trusts are the normal form of Cyprus trust used by foreign settlors. They have the following key characteristics:
Most populous city of Switzerland, Zurich is firmly focused on the financial industry, being a strong hub for wealth management and asset management. In a country where 70% of the inhabitants speak Swiss German, English remains a must, and the main language at work within the finance industry. As a result, talents from abroad keep coming to join the local workforces remaining competitive. Zurich is indeed extremely international and it is not unusual to find more than 20 nationalities working at the same work place. Alongside major private banks and pension funds, Zurich counts a large numbers of independent trust companies, privately own banks, law firms and independent wealth managers. External assets managers are legion and family offices flourishing. They both offer a wide range of services from technical asset allocation to concierge services, wealth and tax planning structuring, private equity, etc. At the difference of the ‘sister’ Geneva which is, from a private banking client’s perspective, now turning more and more its attention towards Middle East and LatAm clients, Zurich remains the main center for Europeans, Eastern Europeans and Scandinavian clients. Quality of living is one of the main factor attracting foreigners. Switzerland has indeed a lot to offer: located in the centre of Europe, commuting is extremely easy and Switzerland has one of the densest public transport networks in the world. The safety is unique and leisure spots never far from home. Accommodation his however an issue due to the currently short supply of vacant apartments, but with a little patience and persistence, chances of finding something suitable within a reasonable period of time are good. Cost of living is notably higher than in the rest of Europe but salaries tend to be twice higher than elsewhere. In comparison with the surrounding countries Switzerland still registers a very low level of unemployment. Obtaining a residential/ working visa remains easy for EU nationals but can be problematic for others. Switzerland applies indeed quotas for non EU and applicants will see their chances increased towards the beginning of the calendar as counters are reset to zero. 2010 versus 2011 - Having suffered the recession as the rest of the other financial places, employment is now again boosted. 2010 labor market was still pretty slow but first signs of recovery are showing up. Since the beginning of the last quarter we see this tendency confirmed and the outlooks for 2011 seem fairly promising according to our clients. Attention is now turned as an example towards Wealth and Tax Planners. They are highly ‘wanted’ in order to cope with the changes of regulations and cross border issues while it comes to structuring wealth of private clients. We are also more and more contacted by foreign companies who want to establish a local presence. Those are mainly hedge funds, independent trust companies and law firms. Challenges for employment in 2011 will be directly linked to the reaction of Switzerland authorities towards the foreign attacks of its bank secrecy. New regulations on external asset managers will also tend to increase their back office costs and as a result many of the small players will merge in order to survive. The trust industry faces changes of changes in regulations but is still growing and new players are joining the local market. Swiss and foreign Private Banks tend to switch from an offshore perspective to an onshore focus.
This article was written by Emmanuel Auperin, a Former Manager for AP Executive, a specialist global private wealth management consultancy.
Individuals looking for international finance jobs may like to look to Singapore, as the country has excellent prospects for those searching for employment at the moment.
This is according to Jyoti Narasimhan, spokeswoman for IHS Global Insight, who noted that the city-state's diversification into new industries, as well as strengthening of established sectors, has reduced its vulnerability to global downturns.
"Singapore is an advanced global trading and financial centre and seeks to be the premier financial hub in Asia," she explained.
Ms Narasimhan added that, in the fourth quarter of 2010, 96 per cent of the 30,600 jobs created were in the services sector and the prognosis for the near term in this area is "very good".
Overall, she stated that she expected the unemployment rate to stabilise and then improve dramatically over the course of 2011.
Recently, foreign secretary William Hague told an audience in Hong Kong that the UK would seek to strengthen its economic ties to countries in Asia in order to encourage investment and trade between Britain and the east.
More than half of employers do not consider depression to be a good enough reason for taking time off, according to a new survey that may interest managers of those in accounting jobs.
According to Personnel Today, the study, conducted by online therapy service Mentaline.com, found 52 per cent of bosses thought the condition would not be a reason for taking time off work.
Founder of Mentaline Jesper Buch said it was shocking to see how many corporations were ignoring or downplaying the serious effect problems such as stress and depression could have on a worker.
"Many of these issues can actually stem from working environments, so it's important that employers acknowledge the problems and fully understand them," he was quoted as saying.
The findings come as a survey conducted last month by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and also reported by Personnel Today found 90 per cent of those with poor mental health said it affected their performance at work.
There are six stress risk factors that people in London hedge fund jobs could be affected by, it has been suggested.
Ann McCracken, chair of International Stress Management Association UK (ISMA UK), said these are triggers that cause people to feel under pressure in the workplace and consist of control, relationships, change, support, role and demands.
She explained although companies are required to carry out assessments for stress management, there has been an increase in the number of employees in the UK with worries about their job.
Ms McCracken said members of ISMA UK "have noticed that they are meeting and working with more people concerned about work".
However, she pointed out that no official figures will be released on the matter for another 12 months.
In August this year, a study conducted by Medicash found men are four times more likely to have time off work due to employment-related stress.
I think now is a particularly exciting time for anyone to be considering a career as an advocate at the Guernsey Bar or wishing to work as a lawyer in Guernsey. Over the past twenty years the size of the Bar has increased from approximately twenty advocates to 100 and rising. A record number of people will be taking the Guernsey Bar examinations this coming summer.
There has also been the phenomenon of the non-locally qualified lawyer working for the firms of advocates on the Island. Non-locally qualified lawyers now outnumber locally qualified advocates. Legal practice in Guernsey has benefited from the input of persons with qualifications from all over the world but particularly Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Why this growth? It is a direct corollary of the amount of work coming into the Island. In the 1960s and 1970s much was heard of "invisible exports". The work brought in to Guernsey by lawyers on the Island must account for a sizeable proportion of Guernsey's economy.
It is an exciting time to practise law in Guernsey; whereas twenty years ago most advocates were generalists turning their hand to many tasks, now it is very much the norm to specialise in a chosen practise area of particular interest to a lawyer. New areas of practise in my own firm, for instance, which has dedicated teams to include employment law, compliance work, data protection, medical negligence, pensions laws, employment benefits - and the areas of specialisation will continue to increase.
Guernsey is a common law jurisdiction; however its laws are a combination of old Norman law and English law. Although the customary law of Normandy forms the historical basis of Guernsey law and is still the basis of the laws concerning inheritance and property, all other areas of law have drawn increasingly on English law over time. As a result Guernsey advocates must not only be proficient in English law but must also have a good understanding of old Norman law.
The Route to Qualification
Unsurprisingly, becoming a Guernsey advocate is a lengthy process. Candidates must first qualify as an English solicitor or barrister before attempting the specific Guernsey requirements. Once qualified, candidates must attend the University of Caen in France for three months and complete the Guernsey Bar examinations.
Qualifying as an English Solicitor or Barrister
The first step in qualifying as an English solicitor or barrister is to complete a degree from a recognised university. While many students choose to undertake a law degree it is possible to convert a non-law degree to a qualifying law degree by taking a post-graduate diploma in law ("PgDL"), also known as a Common Professional Examination. The PgDL comprises the seven core subjects of a law degree: Tort, Contract Law, Public Law, Criminal Law, Equity and Trusts, EC Law and Property Law.
The PgDL can be undertaken in a number of manners: full-time, part-time or by distance learning. The full-time course is over one year, whereas the part-time and distance-learning courses are studied over two years.
Following completion of a law degree or non-law degree and PgDL, candidates must choose whether they wish to be a solicitor or a barrister.
Qualifying as a Solicitor
To become a solicitor, students must undertake a vocational course known as The Legal Practice Course ("LPC"). The LPC is designed to allow students to apply the knowledge and procedures they learned in their law degree/PgDL in practice. The LPC consists of three core subjects and three electives. The compulsory subjects are Business Law in Practice, Litigation & Advocacy and Conveyancing & Property. The choice of electives includes Acquisitions & Group Structures, Commercial Law, Commercial Dispute Resolution, Commercial Property, Corporate Finance, Employment Law & Practice, Family Law & Practice, Media & Entertainment Law, Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence Litigation, Private Client and finally, Welfare Benefit & Immigration Law. The choice of electives allows students to tailor their studies according to the area in which they would like to specialise. Occasionally, where candidates have secured a training contract for when they finish the academic stage (see below) the employer may request the student to take specific electives.
Like the PgDL, the LPC may be taken full-time, part-time or by block learning, the full-time course lasting one year and the part-time and block learning courses lasting two years.
Once candidates have completed the academic stage of training (i.e., the law degree/ PgDL and LPC) they must train as a solicitor for two years within an accredited firm . Until recently it was necessary to train in either England or Wales; however it is now possible to complete this stage in Guernsey. At present, Guernsey law firms offering training contracts include amongst others, Carey Langlois and Wedlake Bell. Many mainland firms recruit trainees two years in advance so it is necessary to apply in the final year of the law degree or during the PgDL. At present, the Guernsey firms tend to be more flexible so it may be possible to secure a training contract after completing the LPC.
During the training contract trainees take a number of "seats", meaning they spend set amounts of time in different departments, allowing them to obtain experience of different areas of law. This can be particularly useful where a trainee is not sure of the area in which they would like to specialise.
The final stage of training as a solicitor is the Professional Skills Course ("PSC") which is pursued during the training contract. The PSC comprises 72 hours (12 days) of training which includes three compulsory core modules and a wide choice of electives. The compulsory core modules are Financial & Business Skills, Advocacy & Communication Skills and Client Care & Professional Skills.
Qualifying as a Barrister
Instead of pursuing the LPC, prospective barristers must undertake a different vocational course known as the Bar Vocational Course ("BVC"). The BVC is designed to prepare students for becoming pupil barristers and there is much emphasis on developing interpersonal skills, casework skills, written skills and a professional attitude.
Like the LPC, the BVC has three core areas which include Civil Litigation, Criminal Litigation and Sentencing and Evidence. There are also a number of electives to choose from. In order to hold rights of audience in the Superior Courts of England and Wales one must first be called to the Bar. It follows that students should join one of the Inns of Court prior to undertaking the BVC, as the Inns alone have power to call a student to the Bar. The Inns of Court are Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray's Inn. The Bar Council recommends that students join an Inn by the end of June in the year in which they will pursue the BVC; however many students choose to join earlier. The Inns are generally non-academic societies designed to provide support to barristers and student barristers. The Inns provide advocacy training seminars and lectures on various areas of law.
Normally, following completion of the BVC and having been called to the Bar, students must then obtain pupillage with a chambers in the UK, where they will train for a year. This is not necessary in order to become a Guernsey advocate and thus many barristers return to Guernsey to undertake the Guernsey Bar examinations following the BVC.
Studying in Caen
Following qualification as an English solicitor or barrister, a prospective Guernsey advocate must attend the University of Caen for three months. Students usually go to Caen in September and finish their exams in mid-December. The courses they will take there are designed to provide an understanding of Norman customary law and French contract law. As the courses are taught in French it is essential to have a good understanding of the language. The courses include Customary Law (Coutûme), Institutions of Normandy (Institutions Normandes), Judicial Thought (Pensée Juridique) and Contract Law (Obligations). The first three courses provide an historical analysis of French law; however the course on contract law focuses on the modern French law of contract.
The Guernsey Bar
In this stage of the training, which may be undertaken prior to or after attending the University of Caen, candidates must write four papers to be called to the Guernsey Bar. They must write papers on the Constitution and Laws of Guernsey, Civil and Criminal Practice and Procedure and the Law of Real Property. Students then have a choice between a paper on the laws and practice relating to private clients or the laws and practice relating to business clients.
Whilst there is no formal training programme prior to writing these papers, candidates must have worked within a Guernsey law firm for a minimum of 1 year under the supervision of an advocate of at least 5 years' standing prior to being called to the Bar. In addition, many law firms in Guernsey provide seminars for students in order to assist them in their studies. Once students have completed these requirements they will be called to the Guernsey Bar and become a Guernsey advocate.
This may all sound a long and arduous road. It is, but as in most things in life the more the preparation the greater the reward.
By Michael Eades, Bâtonnier, Guernsey Bar Council.
by Alan Binnington, President of the Law Society of Jersey,
Partner of Mourant du Feu & Jeune, Alan is a Jersey Advocate and an English Barrister
In the 19th Century the number of advocates in the Island was limited to six and it has been suggested that in order to be called to the Jersey Bar a newly qualified lawyer had in those days to pay an existing advocate a sum of money sufficient to persuade him to retire. Thankfully, times have changed and the Island now has over 140 advocates and over 50 "ecrivains", as Jersey solicitors are known.
The route to qualification is not an easy one. The Jersey profession is now essentially a graduate profession although the aspiring Jersey lawyer does not need to have obtained a law degree : for those who have a degree in a subject other than law it is possible to complete a one year conversion course in the core legal subjects in order to pass the Common Professional Examination which puts the student in the same position as if they had a law degree which included the core legal subjects. Students who wish to pursue a career in law in Jersey would then usually attend the Legal Practice Course ("LPC") or the Bar Vocational Course ("BVC") in order to qualify respectively as an English solicitor or an English barrister. Unfortunately that is not the end of the studying !
Having qualified either as an English solicitor or barrister many students return immediately to the Island to commence their studies for the Jersey Qualifying Exam for call to the Jersey Bar or admission as an ecrivain. However some students decide to spend some time gaining experience as a barrister or solicitor before returning to the Island. Such experience can be invaluable if it is in the field in which the aspiring Jersey lawyer ultimately wishes to practise.
Once back in Jersey it is likely to take in the region of 2 years of further studying before one is ready to take the Jersey law exams. Although Jersey law is, in many areas, similar to English law there are important differences, particularly in the law relating to contract, immovable property and succession. As some of the statutes and most of the early commentaries are written in French a good working knowledge of French is particularly useful, although contrary to popular belief the language used is "normal" as opposed to "Norman" French!
Once qualified as a Jersey lawyer the range of work available is diverse. Many of the smaller local firms concentrate on advice for Jersey resident individuals and institutions covering areas such as criminal, matrimonial, conveyancing, contract disputes and personal injury litigation. The larger firms, whilst doing some purely local work, tend to specialise in advice to institutions using Jersey as an offshore finance centre. Such advice will cover areas such as trust and company law, offshore financing and commercial litigation.
The island's legal aid system brings with it both advantages and disadvantages for the newly qualified Jersey lawyer. All Jersey qualified lawyers of fewer than 15 years' standing must accept legal aid work on a rota system, which means that each lawyer is allocated, on average, one legal aid case per week. The work is carried out free of charge if the client does not have sufficient means to pay, or is carried out at a reduced rate where they have the ability to pay some, but not all of, the fees. The lawyer does not receive the balance from any other source. Although the obligation to receive cases that are allocated on the rota is a personal one some of the larger firms set up specialised legal aid teams to carry out the work. The advantage from a newly qualified advocate's perspective is that even if he or she joins a large commercial firm there will still be an opportunity to gain useful experience in areas such as criminal advocacy and to do work that fulfils the sense of vocation that many newly qualified lawyers demonstrate. The disadvantage of the system is that it operates as a substantial disincentive to a lawyer who wishes to set up on his own, providing advice primarily to local residents. The cost of carrying out a substantial amount of work for no remuneration for up to 15 years can be financially crippling to someone in that position. Thus anyone who wishes to specialise in, say, providing advice in matrimonial and criminal cases is likely to find that it is financially impossible to do so. Although the cost to the States is negligible whether such a state of affairs really benefits the local community is debateable.
It is possible to work for a Jersey law firm without being either an advocate or an ecrivain: one can be employed as a lawyer within a Jersey legal practice without having to pass the Jersey law exams, although professional rules would prevent a person in such a position becoming a partner in a Jersey legal practice. A Jersey legal qualification is however required before you can hold yourself out as being able to practise Jersey law. In addition, a number of firms of English solicitors have a presence in Jersey advising Jersey resident individuals and institutions on English law matters.
Many Jersey law firms have associated trust companies that specialise in the administration of trusts and companies for both individual and corporate clients. There are opportunities for lawyers to work within such companies and for non-lawyers to work as trust and company administrators and managers. It is the associated administration work that makes many Jersey firms very different from the traditional law firms in the U.K. and ensures that the range of job opportunities with Jersey law firms is more diverse than their English counterparts.
Legal work in Jersey is not confined to private practice. In the public sector there may be job opportunities in the Judicial Greffe, which deals with the administration of the courts and in the Law Officers' Department, which handles criminal prosecutions and advises on legal matters affecting the States.
What qualities does an employer look for in a candidate for a legal position? To some extent the answer will depend on the area in which the lawyer is likely to practise. In general one would expect the candidate to demonstrate an ability to think logically, to distinguish relevant information from a mass of irrelevant material and to be able to identify and solve problems. Where court work is likely to be involved it is clearly important to be able to speak in public with confidence, although that is something that may well develop with practise, and to be able to think on one's feet : faced with a difficult question from the judge it is unfortunately not possible to ask the audience or phone a friend. In the private client field it is obviously important to be good at dealing with people although in some areas such as criminal and matrimonial work it is also important to be able to take a detached view of the problem. This sometimes leads to clients, particularly in matrimonial cases, complaining that their lawyer doesn't appear to be sufficiently sympathetic. However one shouldn't go to a lawyer for sympathy; that can be supplied in abundance by friends and relations. What one needs in these circumstances is someone who can stand back from the emotion of a problem and supply objective and independent advice whilst nevertheless being sensitive to the situation in which the client finds himself or herself. With the increasing international nature of legal work in Jersey an ability to speak one or more foreign languages is useful, particularly French for the reasons referred to above. Finally, both physical and mental stamina are useful attributes : the hours are likely to be long!
For many students considering a career in law their only experience of the work of a lawyer (assuming that they have not appeared in the local Magistrate's Court!) is likely to be T.V. series such as Rumpole, Ally McBeal and Kavanagh Q.C. As is often the case what is portrayed on television and reality do not coincide. It is therefore useful to gain some practical experience by working in a law firm during school or university holidays.
Although the training is long and once qualified the work can be arduous, most lawyers will agree that a career in law is both varied and stimulating. Whilst the financial rewards in some areas of the law may be excellent, job satisfaction is more important. As the American publisher, Malcolm Forbes, once said: "The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy".