Archives for June 2016

June 29, 2016 - Comments Off on Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part III – Zurich, CH

Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part III – Zurich, CH

Milburn Lewis is a recruitment business that conducts cross border searchers for our clients, the Big 4 and other international accountancy firms. Most of the professionals we work with are not just considering a career move, but also relocation.

Today, we continue our exploration of Switzerland by traveling to the financial epicentre of Zurich.

Welcome to Zurich

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, with a population of over 380,000, and the capital city of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the north western tip of Lake Zürich. It is known as one of the world’s key financial centres.

The canton of Zurich is the largest (by population) of Switzerland’s 26 cantons. When ranked by area, however, Zurich is 7th out of 26th. The city of Zurich is spread across 87.88 km2, which means that you could fit nine Zurich’s into New York City.

The official language of Zurich is Swiss Standard German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect. However, given Zurich’s international importance and high level of foreign residents, one can also expect to hear standard German, English, Italian, and French. This can be helpful for those who wish to make a move to Zurich but are still developing their German language skills.

Like in Geneva, there is a healthy immigrant community in Zurich, with 31% of the city’s population made up of “non-Swiss residents”. This is directly linked to Zurich’s position as a global financial centre, being home to Credit Suisse and UBS, as well as a host of other financial institutions. We find that because of this, Zurich is an extremely attractive location to many working within the Big 4.

The weather in Zurich is similar to the rest of Switzerland – moderate. The hottest month is July with an average temperature of 19 degrees. Not surprisingly, the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 0 degrees. Zurich is, on average, slightly colder than Geneva given its North-eastern location.

Living and Working in Zurich

In 2016, Zurich was placed 2nd in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey. That’s ahead of any city you happen to be living in now – unless you currently reside in Vienna.

Working in Zurich gives professionals the opportunity to work in an international banking capital and a major European commercial centre. The city is known for its high professional standards and excellent networking prospects. Professionals who we’ve helped move to Big 4 firms in Zurich have highlighted that long-term career opportunities can arise from even a relatively short stint in the city.

Zurich is renowned for the importance it puts on ensuring privacy and a high quality of life for its citizens and residents. With excellent public transport and its relatively small size, Zurich offers minimal commutes.

Given Zurich’s cosmopolitan nature, there are also ample opportunities to socialise, network, and relax outside of the working environment. Zurich is home to a myriad of bars, restaurants, and clubs. It also has a great deal to offer those who love museums, art and music, zoos, and beautiful scenery.

Practicalities: Right to Work

The right to work in Zurich is controlled at a Federal level. Since 1998, Switzerland has a dual priority system for the issuance of work permits. This means priority is given to workers from EU member states and a more restrictive admission policy is operated for non-EU citizens.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but since 2002, a bilateral agreement between the two entities has made entry it easier for EU nationals, as well as citizens from Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. This was extended in 2013, which gave EU citizens full freedom of movement. EU citizens are free to travel to Switzerland, and to live and work there.

If EU citizens are engaged in employment that lasts longer than three months, however, they are required to obtain a residence permit and register with the communal authorities in the place they reside before taking up work. This will almost certainly be the case for professionals seeking employment within one of the Big 4 firms.

Citizens from countries outside of the EU are referred to as “third-country nationals” and the restrictions on their right to live and work are more stringent. If a professional is offered employment in Switzerland, the prospective employer must submit an application to the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities.

The following requirements apply to employment of third-country nationals:

  • Persons are admitted when it is in the general economic interest.
  • Authorisation is only granted if established quotas have not been used up.
  • Third-country nationals may only be hired if no one with equivalent qualifications can be found in Switzerland or in an EU/EFTA member state.
  • Only managers, specialists and other qualified workers will be admitted. “Qualified workers” are primarily the holders of higher education qualifications (i.e. from a university or university of applied sciences) who also have specific technical expertise and several years of professional experience. Integration criteria will also be taken into account when issuing residence permits: ability to adjust to a new occupational and social environment, language skills and age.
  • Salary and working conditions must also be equivalent to those that apply to Swiss inhabitants.

The Practicalities: Cost of Living in Zurich

The cost of living in Zurich is high. Aside from accommodation, transport, food, and education, you will be required to pay various taxes, license fees, and insurances premiums. But, we at Milburn Lewis strongly believe that this shouldn’t dissuade you from making a move to Zurich.

These costs are more than mitigated by the exceptionally high salaries, high purchasing power, and superb quality of life offered in Zurich. The Big 4 firms in Zurich, and across Switzerland, recognise the costs involved in making a move and award packages accordingly.

When considering accommodation, it is important to realise that most people – including the locals – rent in Zurich. It is a competitive market, which means relatively high rent costs. Like in most European cities, however, the further you move out of the city centre, the cheaper rent becomes. Choosing the area in which to live is an extremely important decision. Taxes in Switzerland differ according to location, and urban centres with have their own specific rates. City areas with wealthy residents and commercial zones often have lower tax rates.

Expats living in Zurich should also get into the habit of recycling. The council tax residents per garbage bag, so it is possible to save a considerable amount by separating their rubbish into plastic, glass, and aluminium and disposing of these at free recycling sites located around the city.

Another outgoing will be healthcare. Under Swiss law, it is compulsory to acquire private healthcare and you will be required to get covered within three months of your arrival. Premiums can cost anything from about 250CHF to more than 500 CHF a month.

Like we’ve already said, however, the cost of living is high in Zurich but so is the quality of life, salaries, and opportunities for career advancement.

Concluding Remarks: Zurich

Zurich is a city that offers Big 4 professionals the opportunity to advance their career, whilst simultaneously achieving an exceptional standard of living. If you’re committed to a move to Zurich, or simply curious to know more about our clients and the roles available, email info@milburnlewis.com.

June 22, 2016 - Comments Off on Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part II – Geneva, CH

Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part II – Geneva, CH

Last week, Milburn Lewis launched our Making the Move Blog (which can also be found on our website, www.milburnlewis.com) with a look at one of Europe’s hidden gems, Luxembourg. This week we continue our series by traveling south to Switzerland.

Given that Switzerland is a significant market for Milburn Lewis, we’ve decided to dedicate Part II and Part III to the two major cities in Switzerland. Today, we start with Geneva.

Welcome to Switzerland

The Swiss Confederation is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful countries. Similar to Luxembourg, it offers professionals the chance of fantastic career progression, excellent work/life balance, and easy access to the rest of Europe.

Switzerland is a mountainous country in Central Europe. It is landlocked and borders Liechtenstein and Austria to the East, Italy to the South, France to the West, and Germany to the North. Given its location in Europe, Switzerland gives professionals the opportunity to work in some of Europe’s largest markets.

Compared to other major European countries, Switzerland is a relatively small country at 41,285 km2. The total population is around 8,211,700, with about 28% classified as immigrants.

There are four official languages: German (63.7%), French (20.4%), Italian (6.5%), and Romansh (0.5%). English is not an official language, though it is widely spoken throughout Switzerland. Interestingly, language is a geographical divide in Switzerland.

Switzerland is a federal directorial republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities, called Bundesstadt (“federal city”). The diverse use of language and cultures throughout the cantons arguably makes Switzerland one of Europe’s most eclectic countries.

The Swiss economy is considered to be one of the most stable in the world. Its long-standing policy of ensuring long-term monetary security and political stability has made Switzerland a safe haven for investors, creating an economy that is increasingly dependent on a steady tide of foreign investment.

Switzerland is also home to two global and economic centres: Zürich and Geneva.

Living and Working in Geneva

Geneva is the second most populated city in Switzerland, with over 195,000 residents. It is the first most populous city in Romandy, which is the term used to denote the French-speaking parts of Switzerland. It is known for its beautiful scenery, weather, and a very high standard of living.

The canton of Geneva is one of the smallest in Switzerland, ranking 21st out of 26th when ranked by area. The city of Geneva is spread across 15.93 km2, which makes it one of Europe’s smallest cities.

The official language of Geneva is French. Due to immigration flows in the 1960s and 1970, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are also spoken by a considerable proportion of the population.

Although one can survive on English only, it is not recommended and immigrants are encouraged to develop their French skills if a long-term move to Geneva is likely. In recent years, the Executive of Geneva and Federal Council of Switzerland have voiced their concerns over the lack of proficiency in French of English-speaking expatriates (even after years spent in Geneva).

There is a significant immigrant community in Geneva, with 62% of residents coming from a “non-Swiss background”. This is largely due to the large number of international organisations that reside there, which attracts professionals from all over the world. Geneva therefore offers a relatively smooth transition for those seeking a career move, especially those who have a proficient grasp of the French language.

As always the weather is an important factor for those considering a move. In most inhabited regions of Switzerland, the weather is generally moderate. In Geneva, the hottest month is July with an average temperature of 20 degrees. Not surprisingly, the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 2 degrees.

Living and Working in Geneva

Financial services make up a significant percentage of Geneva’s economy. All the major international accountancy firms have a strong presence in the city. Milburn Lewis has very strong relationships with all of the Big 4 firms in Geneva. The feedback we often receive is that all Big 4 firms in Geneva offer a great deal of career advancement.

Geneva has some of the world’s young, dedicated, and hard-working professionals and they have to decompress. The city is home to myriad restaurants, bars, and a host of other social events. Geneva is also home to a renowned sporting culture, offering opportunities to get involved in a range of activities including skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, hiking, canoeing, mountaineering, cycling, mountain biking, golf, wakeboarding, windsurfing and paragliding. This gives new arrivals ample opportunities to socialise, integrate, and make new relationships.

Practicalities: Right to Work

The right to work in Geneva is controlled at a Federal level. Since 1998, Switzerland has a dual priority system for the issuance of work permits. This means priority is given to workers from EU member states and a more restrictive admission policy is operated for non-EU citizens.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but since 2002, a bilateral agreement between the two entities has made it easier entry for EU national, as well as citizens from Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. This was extended in 2013, which gave EU citizens full freedom of movement. EU citizens are free to travel to Switzerland, and to live and work there for up to 3 months.

For those who have longer term plans, however, they are required to obtain a residence permit and register with the communal authorities in the place they reside before taking up work. This will almost certainly be the case for professionals seeking employment within one of the Big 4 firms.

Citizens from countries outside of the EU are referred to as “third-country nationals” and the restrictions on their right to live and work are more stringent. If a professional is offered employment in Switzerland, the prospective employer must submit an application to the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities.

The following requirements apply to employment of third-country nationals:

  • Persons are admitted when it is in the general economic interest.
  • Authorisation is only granted if established quotas have not been used up.
  • Third-country nationals may only be hired if no one with equivalent qualifications can be found in Switzerland or in an EU/EFTA member state.
  • Only managers, specialists and other qualified workers will be admitted. “Qualified workers” are primarily the holders of higher education qualifications (i.e. from a university or university of applied sciences) who also have specific technical expertise and several years of professional experience. Integration criteria will also be taken into account when issuing residence permits: ability to adjust to a new occupational and social environment, language skills and age.
  • Salary and working conditions must also be equivalent to those that apply to Swiss inhabitants.

The Practicalities: Cost of Living in Geneva

Geneva is a very small city, compared to the cultural advantages it offers. The feedback we receive from professionals we’ve placed is that there are no bad, stay-away-from neighbourhoods in Geneva. However, given its relatively small size, it can be very expensive to rent and buy in Geneva.

This being said, the professionals that Milburn Lewis have placed in Geneva say that the high cost of living is offset by the low tax rates and exceptionally high salaries awarded.

Given its close proximity to France, a large number of professionals are electing to live in neighbouring French towns and commute into Geneva. Bordering French towns like Ferney-Voltaire, St. Julien-en-Genevois, and Annemase offer a smaller population and lower cost of living.

In order to live in France and work in Geneva, you are required to gain frontalier status. The benefits can be significant. Frontaliers benefit from the higher level of remuneration without the significant cost of living in city centre Geneva.

Frontaliers are subject to a complex tax arrangement, however. There are different rules and process for the different cantons of Switzerland. People who work in Geneva and the surrounding canton are taxed at source. They are required to declare their income to the French authorities and note how much tax was already paid in Geneva. The French tax then calculates what further tax is required. Geneva and France exchange the finances as per their agreement at the end of the whole process.

It is up to the individual to decide what option is best for them when consider where to reside.

Concluding Remarks: Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland, has a great deal to offer young, mid-career, and senior professionals wanting to advance their career. If you’re committed to a move to Geneva, or simply curious to know more about our clients and the roles they are hiring for, email info@milburnlewis.com.

June 07, 2016 - Comments Off on Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part I – Luxembourg

Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part I – Luxembourg

Milburn Lewis is a recruitment business that conducts cross border searches for our clients, the Big 4 and other international accountancy firms. Most of the professionals we work with are not just considering a career move, but also relocation.

Today we launch our Making the Move Blog (which can also be found on our website www.milburnlewis.com) with a look at Luxembourg.

Welcome to Luxembourg

Luxembourg is one of Europe’s hidden gems. In addition to living in one of Europe’s most beautiful and historic countries, the residents of Luxembourg enjoy an excellent work/life balance, a diverse culture and easy access to the rest of Western Europe.

Luxembourg is at the heart of Europe, both metaphorically and literally. It is a landlocked country that borders Belgium, France, and Germany, giving professionals the opportunity to gain valuable experience in Luxembourg but also across Europe’s largest markets.

Luxembourg is one of Europe’s smallest countries at just under 2,600 km2; around two-thirds the size of Rhode Island – the USA’s smallest state. The total population is circa 560,000, with roughly a third classified as immigrants.

There are three official languages: French, German, and Luxembourgish. English is widely spoken, particularly in the workplace.The polyglot nature of Luxembourg means that most newcomers will find it relatively easy to make the transition and assimilate into Luxembourgish culture.

There is a healthy immigrant community throughout Luxembourg. Luxembourg attracts professionals from all over the world, so it is highly likely that wherever you come from, you will be able to find fellow expats from your country of origin. And, if you’re Portuguese you’ll really feel at home with 15% of the country’s inhabitants (over 1/3 of all immigrants) coming from Portuguese ancestry.

People are always asking us about the weather. Unsurprisingly, Luxembourg has a similar climate to the rest of Northern Europe. Having an oceanic climate, its summers are characterised as being cool, and its winters as being relatively mild. If you’re looking for a year-long tan, then Luxembourg might not be for you. However, we have been told that the climate “is a perfect fit for the picturesque country”.

Working in Luxembourg

All the major international accountancy firms have a strong presence in Luxembourg and it is a country that offers a great deal for career advancement in both the audit and advisory spaces.

Featuring a solid economy and excellent work-life balance, we believe that Luxembourg has the potential to attract top-level talent. On offer is one of Europe’s most culturally diverse, economically strong, and totally beautiful countries. The career development prospects with our clients in Luxembourg are strong too.

Politics and the Economy

Luxembourg enjoys a stable, prosperous political system and economy.

The state is governed by a Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy (similar to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The Head of State is His Royal Highness Henri, The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and its head of government is currently Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. Like in most monarchies across Europe, the role of monarch in Luxembourg is now almost totally symbolic, and the Grand Duke no longer has any formal role in the legislative process.

Luxembourg has long been a prominent member and strong advocate for the European Union. In fact, Luxembourg was a signatory of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which was the first incarnation of the EU. Professionals holding citizenship of a fellow EU country have the right to live and work in Luxembourg without the need of a visa.

The economy is frequently characterised as being strong and stable. Its primary industries are banking, steel, real estate, and industrial. The strength of the Luxembourgish economy was demonstrated in the aftermath of the 2008 Recession, with it surviving relatively unharmed – especially when compared to some of the larger European economies. This resilience is valued by our clients and continues to help drive the growth in their businesses. In 2016, Luxembourg’s economy continues to be strong, with the highest nominal GDP per capita in the world.

Between 1944 and 1999, the Luxembourgish franc had the exact same value as the Belgian franc, with both currencies being accepted as legal tender throughout the country. However, in 1999, Luxembourg chose to join the “Eurozone” countries and replaced both currencies with the Euro. This again makes it easier to travel across Europe, with over 19 EU states using the Euro as its currency.

The quality of life one can expect in Luxembourg is very good. According to the EU, Luxembourg has the highest minimum legal salary in the EU, and the second highest in the world after Australia. In 2013, it was €1,874.90 ($2,404) per month or €10.83 ($13.89) per hour for unqualified workers over 18. These minimum wages are reflected in the higher salaries professionals can earn in Luxembourg. The prospects of finding a role are also positive, with Luxembourg’s average unemployment rate of 3.3% between 1982 and 2013 rating as the lowest in Europe.

The Practicalities: Right to Work

Citizens of EU member countries do not require a visa or work permit in order to reside or gain employment. However, if you are a non-EU citizen the process is more complicated. It is important to note that it is not impossible. Under Luxembourgish law, non-EU migrants must apply for both a visa and work permit prior to arrival in Luxembourg.

If a non-EU candidate is offered a position, they are required to apply for a “temporary residence permit”, which will be sponsored by their future employer. This process can be completed at any local Luxembourgish consulate or embassy. However, if individuals do not have an embassy or consulate available in their country, these services can be accessed at either a Dutch or Belgian embassy.

Professionals looking to stay longer than a year, (i.e. the vast majority of our appointments), are required to apply for a “foreigner’s identity card” and register with the communal administration. After a period of 10 years living and working in Luxembourg, they can then apply for citizenship as long as they are fluent in all three of the official languages.

Concluding Remarks: Luxembourg

Luxembourg offers a compelling career choice for many of the professionals we work with. If you’re committed to a move to Luxembourg, or simply curious to know more about our clients and the roles they are hiring for, email info@milburnlewis.com