What do you mean by "Offshore"?
We are specialists in recruiting legal and financial services professionals for the “offshore financial centres” (sometimes referred to as OFC’s).
Although there is no precise definition of the term, the IMF has identified the following factors which have become widely accepted characteristics of an offshore financial centre:
- A relatively large number of financial institutions engaged primarily in business with non-residents;
- Financial systems with external assets and liabilities which are [substantially] out of proportion with the domestic economy;
- low corporate taxation rates;
- light or moderate financial regulation;
- Some degree of banking secrecy and anonymity (although this has been substantially eroded in recent years)
It so happens that most OFC’s also share certain lifestyle advantages which make them appealing places to live and work:
- High demand, and low supply of professionally qualified individuals
- Low personal tax rates
- Tropical or sub-tropical climates
- A relatively large population of (mostly professionally qualified) expatriates
- A generally high standard of living often including:
- Short commutes
- Low pollution
- Low crime
- Modern telecommunications
- Excellent local amenities
The following countries are generally held to be the mainstays of the offshore financial sector:
- The Cayman Islands
- British Virgin Islands
- Isle of Man
In recent years several traditional financial centres have enacted legislation preferential to offshore business, which enables them to compete more effectively for certain financial services which have traditionally been provided offshore (most notably related to captive insurance, mutual and hedge funds). As a result of this, and to facilitate access to new global markets, many offshore law firms have set up practices in these centres, as offshore law specialists. Such jurisdictions are increasingly considered to be “offshores” themselves. These include:
- Hong Kong
Why consider working offshore?
There are three main benefits in working in the offshore financial sector:
A combination of generally high gross salaries and generally low income taxes invariably means substantially higher take home pay.
Quality of Life
Many offshore jurisdictions are thriving financial centres by day and idyllic tropical islands by night. Bermuda and the Caribbean offer warm climates with low annual rainfall, short commutes, low crime, virtually no pollution, and excellent amenities.
The offshore market has experienced unparalleled growth in the last decade, with no end in site. Accordingly, the demand for qualified professionals has never been greater. Thousands of professionals have moved to offshore jurisdictions to advance their careers and expand their skill-sets. Offshore jurisdictions are home to many of the major, international financial services companies. By working in an offshore jurisdiction, professionals can develop a career in international finance while enjoying an excellent work/life balance.
How soon will you find me something?
It depends on your qualifications, experience, target role(s) and location(s). Assuming you meet the minimum professional standards for your discipline (see below), it can take anywhere from one week to three months or longer to obtain an offer. The more flexible you are with regard to role, salary expectations and location, the more likely it is that we will find you a good opportunity within a relatively short period of time.
If you are a qualified accountant available to travel on short notice, you should consider a temporary contract accounting role in the Cayman Islands. We are generally able to interview and, if you are successful, make an offer in the same day.
I've seen "The Firm". Aren't offshores all about tax evasion and money laundering?
This is a fallacy perpetuated by Hollywood fiction which the offshore centres have worked hard to dispel. The truth is that increased scrutiny from international bodies, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has resulted in a string of measures designed to extinguish the potential for criminal abuse of offshore financial systems. The result is a compliance environment which is considerably more onerous than most onshore financial centres. You’ll experience this first hand when you try to open a bank account and are asked to provide an unusually long list of due diligence documentation. A prime example of this fallacy is frequent Hollywood references to “numbered bank accounts in the Cayman Islands” which were in fact outlawed many years ago.
Your name suggests that you only recruit for offshore locations. Is this the case?
No. Although we started out as a recruitment consultancy for professionals seeking to relocate offshore, we have established excellent relationships with many of the world’s leading financial services firms. As our reputation for professionalism and outstanding service has grown, so it has spread to other offices within our clients’ network around the globe. Although the offshore jurisdictions and professional disciplines remain our primary focus, we are also able to assist professionals who are currently based offshore, find excellent opportunities in major onshore financial centres such as New York, Toronto, London, Dublin, and Hong Kong.
I am a qualified professional and would like to relocate with my spouse/partner and/or children. Will this pose a problem?
Not necessarily, but your options may be somewhat restricted depending on your marital status, earning potential, target location, and spouse’s occupation. It is critical that you make our consultant fully aware of your circumstances from the outset, to enable them to advise you properly on the potential implications for your cost of living and immigration requirements. If your spouse/partner plans to work, you should provide their resume to your consultant as early as possible in the process.
The bottom line is that a partner’s employment rarely causes an insurmountable problem for couples that are determined to relocate, and who are willing to be patient, persistent and flexible in their search.
How does the recruitment process work?
Once registered, your resume will be reviewed by a CML Recruitment Consultant. Our consultants are experienced, knowledgeable, and are generally able to assess the prospects for your employment in offshore financial services very quickly. If the consultant believes that we can help you, they will call or email you to schedule a telephone call and/or request some further information. This is an opportunity for us to get to know you and find out more about your requirements and expectations, as well as addressing any concerns we may have about your expectations or circumstances. Our consultant will be able to give you an accurate and frank estimate of your earning potential, a range of options, and an indication of the likely timeline based on our experience with similar candidates. Once we have a clear picture of your background and preferences we can initiate an action plan to approach potential employers on your behalf. Interviews will be arranged by us in liaison with our clients’ Human Resource departments.
I've heard the cost of living is astronomical. Is this true?
The cost of living is generally no higher than you would find in any big financial centre like London or New York. Rent is always the main expense, but bear in mind that you may get a beach front condo with a sea view and a swimming pool for the same price as the average one bed apartment in London! Most offshore centres also have low tax rates, so it is very important to compare net salaries rather than gross, which you may be tempted to do from force of habit. It is very important to do your own research and prepare your own detailed budget, especially if you are relocating with a spouse or dependents.
What kind of relocation benefits are generally available?
This varies from client to client. The minimum you can expect is your own flight, two weeks car/scooter rental and two weeks accommodation. This is normally enough time for you to make your own permanent arrangements for transport and accommodation. Our consultants are happy to help and advise you if required.
At the other end of the spectrum, some companies will offer flights for all your dependents as well as a relocation allowance, which may be on a cash or reimbursement basis. Moving allowances are often included, however, most rental accommodation is fully furnished and equipped. It is therefore inadvisable to bring anything that cannot easily be transported with you as luggage. There is no reason to bring vehicles, household appliances or furniture. It is not necessary to use a relocation allowance just because you have it.
Relocation packages are normally a matter of company policy and are therefore rarely negotiable except for senior management roles.
What's the dress code? Should I buy any new clothes?
Each location and firm will have its own ideas about how staff should dress. This is something that should be confirmed once an offer has been made and accepted. However, if you are relocating to a sub-tropical climate, such as the Caribbean, Hong Kong or Singapore, it is generally wise to stock up on clothing made from light, natural fabrics (which may not be available all year round at home). For men, short-sleeve shirts, smart shorts and deck shoes will come in handy for outdoor events. Ladies have much more flexibility in office attire, and a good stock of open toed shoes is normally helpful.
You have included Guernsey and Jersey in your description of OFC's but I don't see any vacancies there. Why is this?
We have found over the years that Jersey and Guernsey have not been popular alternatives to the Caribbean and Bermuda. Although these are also thriving financial services centres, the comparatively inclement climates, higher taxes, and higher cost of living have made it very difficult for us to recruit for the Channel Islands and still satisfy demand from our clients in the more widely appealing jurisdictions of the Caribbean and Bermuda. Many of our clients also have offices in the Channel Islands and so if you are specifically interested in employment opportunities in Jersey or Guernsey let us know. We’ll be happy to assist you.
I am a part-qualified accountant. Can I still be considered for accounting roles?
Yes, but your options may be limited depending on your exact stage of completion, your designation-in-progress, your target location(s) and your salary expectations. You should clearly highlight this on your registration form. Our consultant will be able to advise you of the best course of action for your circumstances.
What can I really expect to earn?
Every firm has a different pay structure. Some pay a salary plus bonus, some pay a salary plus commission and some firms pay only a generous salary, preferring their Associates to enjoy a better work/life balance. Traditionally, depending on the firm, your skill set and your PQE/PAE, you can expect to see salaries of between US$100,000 (tax free or low tax) and US$220,000 with benefits on top. With generous commission schemes at the top firms you can take your yearly earnings over US$500,000 with low or no income tax.
Do I need to be English bar admitted to apply?
To work in Cayman, Bermuda and the BVI you do need to have Commonwealth experience. In jurisdictions such as London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dublin and Dubai this is not required unless, for example, you wish to work for a firm that specialises in Cayman Islands law.
What hours can I expect to work?
Traditionally less than in London if you are moving to a firm in Bermuda or the Caribbean, although you may enjoy 2-3 hours more leisure time each day as a result of shorter commutes.
I am a lawyer with 2 years PQE. Can I be considered?
Firms in the offshore world will interview you with a view to employing you the moment you achieve 3 years PQE (Cayman Islands only), In Bermuda and the BVI you need to be at least 5 years PQE to gain a work permit and become bar admitted. Other jurisdictions such as London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dublin and Dubai will consider you from NQ onwards as long as your seats are relevant to the opportunity.
Most offshore locations have laws based on English common law.