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Wed 20 Aug 2008 11:15 AM

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Gulf finance firms 'struggling to keep best staff'

Number of candidates from UK, US soar but rising cost of living is hurting retention.

The Gulf’s booming financial sector is struggling to keep its most skilled employees, despite a strong supply of candidates from Wall Street and the City of London in the wake of the global credit crunch.

According to Manpower Middle East, new registrations from candidates in the UK banking sector rose by 250 percent in the last six months and by 100 percent in the last two weeks.

But not everyone is finding that the Gulf is able to match the benefits they enjoy at home.

“There are a lot of people reaching out from these places around the world, but they’re not finding that the composition of remuneration and benefits completely matches what they have today,” Varina Nissen, managing director of Manpower Middle East, told Arabian Business on Wednesday.

“The people who are leaving their own communities to come here are leaving because they think they can accelerate their career by going overseas, and they really want to know that their aspiration is going to be fulfilled,” Nissen added.

“At the moment we have a lot of interest from candidates in the region who are looking to change jobs,” Nissen said. Many are looking for jobs outside their own organisation because they believe promotions and other long term incentive plans are not based on fairness and merit.

Companies in the region are taking steps to address a lack of transparency on career advancement but still have a long way to go.

“Some organisations are starting to understand…without necessarily going fully towards transparency, how to ensure that their career development programme is based on fairness and on merit.”

Inflationary costs, particularly in housing and education, are also deterring people from relocating to the region.

Most GCC employers, including sovereign wealth funds, do not offer long term incentive plans such as share option schemes, but some are starting to have internal conversations about introducing them, hoping it will help improve employee retention rates.

The financial services sector Dubai is seeing the strongest interest from job applicants overseas. “Dubai has done the best marketing as a lifestyle location, particularly for young professionals,” Nissen said.

However, international candidates are usually better off applying to emerging hubs like Doha, who are more open to candidates without regional experience.

“Qatari employers in particular recognize that they have a real opportunity if they go and present Qatar, and particularly QFC’s (Qatar Financial Centre) credentials, to international applicants,” she said.

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Rainigade 12 years ago

Hmm.... this article totally puts a whole new perspective on the "expat cap" article, doesnt it? Logic demands that in the face of tough talent retention, an expat cap would be the LAST thing on anyone's mind.

mike 12 years ago

The article shows that recruiting here is a joke. No one wants to come to the Gulf for a subpar quality of life and London prices when Dubai isn't London. See also the Mercer report from Arabian business on best cities to live in. And let's not forget the focus of real estate on high-end crap, which prices out the middle level finance professionals just out of MBA programs, who aren't part of the wealthy class these developments target.