Majority of financial employees refuse to move abroad for work or don't have the opportunity

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New research proves the threat of employees moving abroad to work to be a myth, with 80% of financial staff not being offered positions abroad or declining them.

Recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley surveyed 560 financial services professionals to investigate how many had sought or been offered the opportunity to move abroad for their careers in the past two years.

The majority of respondents (80%) had either not had the opportunity to move abroad (43%), declined an overseas opportunity (9%) or were not willing/able to relocate (28%).

The remaining 20% had moved abroad for work in the past two years, with 'career progression' being the most popular motivator, followed by 'lifestyle choice' and 'travel opportunities'.

'Family/partner' was the main reason for not making a transition (48%), followed by 'no overseas opportunities with my company' (20%), 'the hassle of relocation' (12%) and being 'too far away from home' (10%). Reasons listed as 'other' (10%) included visa and language concerns, preferences to remain in London and property ties in the UK.

The 43% who had not had the opportunity to move abroad stated that they would however be open to the idea. New York (23%) was their preferred destination, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore (both 13%). Dubai and Sydney were close behind, both with 9%. The remaining 20% of respondents had shifted internationally for work in the past two years (or are in the process of moving). The top three motivators for this group to move abroad were 'career progression' (34%), 'lifestyle choice' (14%) and 'travel opportunities' (14%).

Andrew Evans, COO, Morgan McKinley Financial Services, said: "Over the past 18 months there has been much speculation about bankers and other financial professionals leaving London 'in droves' to pursue career opportunities in Asia and the Middle East. These reports did not corroborate with what we were hearing from our extensive database of City workers, prompting us to undertake a formal 'Moving Abroad' survey in June 2011.

"The survey gave a clear indication that the majority of financial services professionals in London are not currently planning to relocate. In fact, only 20% of respondents had relocated overseas for work in the past two years. Opportunities to move abroad are not as abundant as some recent reports might suggest - 43% of respondents had not had the option to relocate. A further 9% had declined an opportunity and the remaining 28% were simply not willing or able to leave the UK. These results show that a large proportion of financial services professionals still view London as the best place to advance their careers.

"It would also seem that changes to taxation and remuneration structures in the UK have not driven away as many professionals as feared, and the City of London has preserved its reputation as a thriving global financial centre. Most financial institutions did not action their threats of relocating their headquarters outside of London, and several firms that did shift offices are now making moves back to the City in favour of its market conditions and competitive rates.

"This is not to suggest that British-based financial services professionals should not look to add international experience to their CVs. As a global recruiter, we encourage and facilitate professionals' moves across the world. The key message from the findings of this survey, as well as anecdotal evidence from our clients and candidates, is that threats of a talent drain appear to be overblown and there is currently still a strong commitment to London from the financial services sector."

Morgan McKinley carried out telephone and written surveys with 560 financial services professionals in London between13 June and 1 July 2011 to investigate how many had sought or been offered the opportunity to move abroad for their careers.

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