Fewer expats expected to fill top posts in 5 years

Fewer expats expected to fill top posts in 5 years 


Firms to turn to local talent as Asian developing nations mature: Survey

By Nicholas Fang 


TOP executives at large companies in emerging Asian powerhouses such as China and India are likely to be local talent in five years’ time, instead of high-cost expatriates.

This is among the key findings of a new survey conducted by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), the global grouping representing top-level headhunting firms in 70 countries around the world.


The survey focused on trends in senior executive recruitment in emerging markets such as China, India, the Middle East and Brazil.


It showed that many of the 62 respondents, comprising executive search professionals around the world, believed local talent would supersede expats by 2013.


AESC said 54 per cent of respondents had estimated that in 1998, most senior executive roles were filled by expats.


‘But only 8 per cent of the respondents thought this group would still be filling the same roles in 2013,’ AESC said in a statement.


Senior executives are defined as those whose minimum responsibilities would be those of a director, vice-president or general manager. They encompass the ‘C-suite’ officers such as chief executives and chief financial officers, as well as technical heads.


AESC president Peter Felix said in an interview on Tuesday that top expatriate executives had taken off in popularity when emerging economies started booming around 10 years ago.


‘But as these markets have begun to mature, so too has the pool of talent that can be hired locally.’


He clarified that the increasing proportion of local talent reflects the growing number of new posts which will be filled by such professionals and did not imply that existing expatriates would lose their jobs.


Mr Mark Ellwood, the managing director of leading recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Singapore, agreed with the survey’s findings.


‘Most organisations prefer to hire at a local level if they can, because this provides more stability for succession planning and creates a more stable management team than hiring expatriates, who have more options to leave.


‘Markets such as China and India also have unique cultural characteristics which are more easily addressed by locals.’


Singapore International Chamber of Commerce chief executive Phillip Overmyer has come across many local managers with experience overseas returning to take up senior leadership positions.


‘In fact, what we see more today is many expatriates in middle-management roles, and technical specialists or individuals who have been sent abroad for international exposure, rather than senior executives.


‘Singapore has always been ahead of the trend and I am sure other Asian markets will soon follow suit.’


Source: Straits Times

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