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Brussels is so much more than embassies and government offices.
Economics and industry are a crucial part of the European Union capital’s fabric, and though it is often overlooked by travelers, the city’s food, art and cultural diversity keep expats settled here a lot longer than they might have intended.
In fact, Brussels has become one of the most diverse cities in Europe, if not the world. Keep reading to learn how expats live in Brussels, and what you should know if you’re planning to join their ranks.
Dubai offers the best of several worlds to expatriates: great job prospects, high salaries, often a vastly better lifestyle than back home, and a safe, secure city that, while expensive, is family-friendly.
A lot of foreigners are taking advantage of life in the emirate, with one expat saying Emiratis in the UAE are “… outnumbered nine to one by expats.”
It’s also becoming an increasingly great place to invest in small and medium-sized businesses. Long-time advantages such as free zone areas and the city’s trading hub location are even more attractive when coupled with current moves by the government that make investing easier, faster and more profitable for both parties.
It wasn’t long ago that France was considered unfriendly to startups.
As recently as 2014, Robin Wauters, Tech.eu’s co-founder and editor-in-chief, conceded that the French government was “at least learning to listen to tech startups.” However, he noted that French startups were being promoted internationally, and foreign investors were seeking opportunities not just in Paris, but also in Lyon, Toulouse and Bordeaux.
And the government is doing more than just listening. It’s subsidising startups with long-term tax breaks and has programs designed to nurture both French and foreign businesses.
International investing is a smart way to diversify your portfolio and protect your assets against regional volatility. However, there tends to be a steep learning curve when deciding where to put your money and why.
Use this guide to learn why you should be investing internationally, how you should do it, and some best practices from the experts.
International Investments Increase Diversification
Investment educator Paul Merriman at MarketWatch explains that diversity is a key part of investing, and ignoring international markets would be like ignoring a major industry or failing to consider a company’s size in the rest of your portfolio.
“Investors have better long-term outcomes when they diversify widely among asset classes,” he writes. “…Many academics also have concluded that it’s a bad idea to have more than half of your equities in stocks from any one country.”
In fact, most investors have a “home bias” where they only want to invest in stocks and bonds in their home country. However, Jonathan Satovsky, founder of Satovsky Asset Management, was quoted in U.S. News on how there are just as many exciting companies globally as there are regionally.
“There are talented, smart, creative people around the world,” he said. “It’s just a question of whether their laws and regulations allow them to be as entrepreneurial as a Facebook or Google or Apple, and allow you, outside the region, to participate.”
Furthermore, international stock diversity leads to better-informed decisions with your regional portfolio. Jeff Opdyke, Editor at the Sovereign Investor, understands how the stock market of one country doesn’t paint a complete picture of global economic health: “In a globalised world — one in which your assets are intimately tied to what happens not just here at home but in Europe, Asia, Australia and even South America — your success comes from global diversification. A savvy investor must have assets at work in other markets at all times.”
Essentially, your national investments will be affected by global markets anyway, so why not test what other markets have to offer?
Global Markets Are Closely Intertwined
One of the most important points when considering investing internationally is how the world reacts to problems together. Nathan Bomey and Matt Krantz at USA Today reported on the shockwaves felt in American stocks following the Brexit vote, which caused massive drops.
“The losses dropped both stock measures back into negative territory for 2016,” they wrote “…The drop erased roughly $800 billion in U.S. market value, as measured by the Wilshire 5000 index.” Americans started buying gold, which has long been perceived as one of the safest bets for investors, in response.
Along with the Brexit, cultural differences continue to make European stocks a risky choice as nations are pulled apart by economic differences of finance, labor, and immigration. Richard Barley at the Wall Street Journal offers a delicate criticism for Europe’s politics in the past year as a cause for slow economic growth.
“Homegrown risks are plentiful,” Braley writes. “Europe’s handling of the migrant crisis has reminded investors of its unwieldy approach to decision-making … [and] Greece may yet return to haunt the headlines.” The migrant crisis isn’t going away in the next year or two, and could continue to add uncertainty to European markets as long as there is war in Syria.
All of this means your international markets aren’t siloed by regional politics. American involvement against ISIS in Syria affects the flow of migrants to Europe, which affects the stock markets of both regions. Because of their sizes, Asian and South American markets are also shaken, and the markets move in tandem.
Smart Investors Have a Long-Term Focus
Despite the current instability in the world, there will always be war, political upheaval, and economic downturn. International investors would be wise to have a long-term plan with their investments instead of hoping to cash in on another region’s misfortune.
Allison Schrager at Quartz says markets tend to overreact to problems, and will eventually stabilise from the June 2016 Brexit vote.
While many people are trying to invest in the pound as it sinks to the lowest level in years, Schrager cautions investors that this isn’t a one-time thing. “Brexit is not an isolated event that markets will forget next week.
“…What you bought could fall further in price, or it could rise and then collapse again before you manage to sell it.” While you might think the only way UK stocks could go is up, you’re actually entering a roller-coaster type market scenario.
However, economic instability doesn’t have to be a reason to avoid investing. According to Tim Maverick at Wall Street Daily, Europe’s economic growth has slowed to a crawl this year, earnings are stagnant, and distrust in the banks is leading to spiraling interest rates.
This can be good news for investors who aren’t in Europe who are looking to take advantage of the opening. “To me, the discounted rates of European stocks, when compared to the U.S. prices, and their higher yield make for an interesting and exciting time to invest in Europe,” he writes. This year’s weakness makes Europe much more approachable as an investment opportunity than previous years.
Essentially, there’s danger when investing in any corner of the world. The key is to have a long-term plan that can survive temporary downturns and a diverse portfolio that balances risk with reward.
Financial Advisors Can Fill Education Gaps
One of the bigger challenges of investing internationally is education. It’s hard to keep track of one country’s economic outlook, much less the entire world’s.
This is especially convoluted when each region uses different metrics to determine stability and success. The Marshall News Messenger recommends going through a financial advisor whose job it is to stay abreast of market fluctuations. “If you are going to invest internationally, it’s probably a good idea to do so with the help of a financial professional — someone with the resources and experience to help you avoid potential pitfalls.”
The team at AllBusiness explains the pros and cons of hiring a professional to manage your international investments. Along with stock and market knowledge, they right, these professionals can create the right plans to achieve your investing goals.
“Learning how to plan for and save for major events is one of the reasons why people seek out financial advice. If, for example, you are ten years away from retiring and hoping to make the money in your retirement account last, you might want to set up a plan with a professional.”
The author does caution that you’re disclosing your entire financial situation to this person, and if you don’t feel comfortable you should walk away.
Another option for money management is working with robo-advisors that use a series of risk-factor analyses and algorithms to determine where your investments should go. Tara Siegel Bernard, personal finance expert, explained to Boston.com how these robots are programmed as fiduciaries and will always have the investor’s best interest in mind.
However, there are certain education factors that may sew their view of a portfolio. “A robo-adviser does not ask about money held outside of its service, for example, which can provide a distorted picture of a customer’s financial standing,” she said. “Others argue the robo-advisers try to wiggle out of too much responsibility in their customer agreements.”
If education is the biggest barrier to entering international markets, these options are a great place to start.
Consider Different Countries, Not Just Continents
When you consider investing, don’t limit yourself to regions such as the EU and Asia. It’s possible to get into the nitty-gritty and invest in specific countries that match your risk tolerance and goals.
Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes breaks out a top 10 list of countries to consider investing in this year. Asia and Europe are incredibly diverse, and you shouldn’t judge individual countries by their collective performance.
For proof of this, Portugal was named his top country to invest in. “With its banking issues from the summer of 2014 largely contained and fiscal policy improving, Portugal will lead the pack in any Eurozone recovery scenario,” Rapoza says. “In terms of fiscal policy, Portugal is mostly improving. The top corporate tax rate was reduced to 21% this year from 23%.”
Furthermore, countries that seem stable on the outside might have problems stewing in the next several years. Steven Goldberg, columnist at Kiplinger, explains that Japan — one of the most stable of all Asian countries — isn’t exempt from economic instability.
“Japan is borrowing at a frenetic pace to try to spur growth,” Goldberg says. “But it is up against a demographic wall. The population is aging—much faster even than Europe’s—partly because of a low birth rate but more importantly because of a longtime resistance to virtually any immigration.”
While many of these factors aren’t cause for immediate concern, it highlights signs of trouble in the coming years for future investments.
Finally, every country offers different levels of protection for investors. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, one reason for this is differences in legal interpretation. “The common law system [of England] allows judges to apply general principles and legal precedents to alleged investor abuse ‘even when specific conduct has not been described or prohibited in the statutes,’” it writes. “Civil law [of France] requires judges to base their rulings on the exact letter of the law.”
This means England has some of the strongest protections of outside investors, while France has the weakest.
These actually stem from 17th Century problems of unfair taxation from the English crown and Napoleonic rule on the French side. This also shows that economic stability shouldn’t be the only choice investors evaluate when it’s time to buy or sell.
There Are Benefits to Investing Off the Beaten Path
You don’t have to stick to big countries such as Japan, France and America when you start investing. It might be better to skip these economies altogether and opt for a smaller one instead.
Liz Smith at SmartAsset recommends investing in smaller markets if you don’t have a large portfolio and are worried about competing with European and American behemoths.
“Investing abroad can also give you the chance to put your money into emerging markets in countries that aren’t as developed,” Smith says. “…Stocks in these markets are quite inexpensive and although they haven’t performed well in years, things could turn around in the future.”
Even if you have a large portfolio, it might be worth checking out Asian markets for a crash course in how they fluctuate before investing heavily in them.
If you’re unsure about volatile markets of specific countries, consider investing through a trust. These companies work to invest your money in multiple markets across Asia and companies within them.
“Given that Asia is not a homogenous region, diversification across industries and/or countries is a particularly important tool to help mitigate the negative impacts of stock market volatility,” Schroders says. This is a particularly smart idea when you’re just starting out in international investing, so you can start learning more about behavior and these regional companies.
Wait for the Optimal Currency Level to Sell
As InvestorGuide.com points out, investing internationally means juggling investments across companies, countries, and currencies. While you might be tempted to pull your income out of one country because of lower-performing companies, you could get dinged with the conversion rates.
“To invest internationally, you must exchange your [money] for the currency of the country in which you plan to invest — and when you sell, the money gets exchanged again,” the site says. “This adds another level of investment risk to your overall ROI.”
Even if you made a profit, you could be losing money due to poor exchange rates.
These are just a few best practices for getting your international investment portfolio started. Investing can ensure you have a long and happy retirement, or help you live off your earnings while you travel. It’s all about setting realistic goals, planning for the long term, and taking a little risk.
The attractive lifestyle of the digital nomad and the technologies that make it possible to work remotely are creating startups that bring people together to live, work and play in communities all over the world.
This is a trend to follow. In a white paper from global office products provider Leitz, Arild Olsen writes that while central offices will remain a fixture in most people’s work lives for the immediate future, remote working is on the rise.
“What will develop,” he finds, “is a richer work ecosystem, with more choice, more flexibility and a modular, rather than fixed, approach to working and where we do it.”
Expats working overseas face pretty much the same job-search hurdles as their counterparts at home, with the possible exception of how many languages they’re required to speak.
There are still a few differences when it comes to best practices for international job resumes, such as longer CVs and pictures of applicants being the rule in Europe rather than exception.
The experts below, however, all seem to agree that it’s the job that matters, not the location. And pretty soon, disruptive services may make CVs and cover letters as we know them things of the past.
The team at Ajirablog, a career management blog, says there is one major difference between domestic and international candidates: your “international IQ.” Your ability to adapt to living and working overseas is given as much — or even more weight — than your education, technical abilities and experience.
“Thus,” they continue, “your CV should be able to highlight the cross-cultural skills, and other smaller details that are unique to job applications for international jobs.” Those other details include a calm disposition, a willingness to take the lead and an ability to work well in a group.
Christine D’Silva, principal consultant at the international consultancy Cubiks, says personality assessments help with more than just the job selection process. “It can also help to provide individuals with a more detailed level of feedback in order to understand their own reactions and behaviours under challenging circumstances, and to inform future training programmes.”
Keep it Simple
Tiffany Hardy at Executive Career Insider says to remember that lengthier CVs are acceptable in certain overseas countries and for senior-level executives.
“However, no matter how long your resume ends up being,” Hardy says, “it must be succinctly written, 100 percent aligned with your career goal, and drafted with a discriminating reader in mind — who will very quickly have had enough.”
She offers a few tips on how to keep this document brief:
Eliminate jargon. Phrases such as “results-focused” and “an excellent communicator” are overused, do not make you unique and create little value.
Keep company information short: Industry, revenue, size and countries are enough.
An overview of your responsibilities is required, not a day-to-day task description.
Career coach and expat Denise Mooney says your resume should specifically address the job for which you’re applying. Too many people don’t include information that specifically addresses what the employer seeks.
“Before you write a single word, go through the advertised job description in detail,” she advises. “Typically, employers will look for relevant qualifications and experience as well as attributes such as communication, relationship management, analytical ability and strong organisational skills. Make sure you cover these off on the first page of your resume.”
Susan Pines of the Shy Job Seeker also talks about the importance of customising a resume. “When you apply for a job opening,” she writes on her blog, “you want to make it easy for the employer to see how you fit the organisation’s needs and requirements.”
There’s another reason to tweak: The tracking system used with online applications matches keywords that filter for for skills and experience.
“If your resume does not contain the right words, the electronic system screens it from human eyes,” Pines warns. “Only the resumes that pass this test will be forwarded to human resources or a hiring manager.”
Have the Right Stuff
Staffing strategist Gail Tolstoi-Miller says some 90 percent of job applicants are unqualified for the position they’re applying for. Recruiters and hiring managers are inundated by what she calls “air ball resumes,” which clutter the application process and waste everyone’s time.
Still, Tolstoi-Miller encourages job seekers to seek out opportunities.
“But in today’s competitive job market,” she writes on Talent Culture, “it is vital that candidates remain focused and objective in identifying their personal strengths, weaknesses, skills, experience and best fit.”
Her advice to candidates: “Read the job description! If you don’t have MOST of the experience and credentials needed, move on to a more appropriate fit.”
Tips from a Recruiter
At EuroLondon Appointments, an international multilingual recruitment firm, associate manager Nathalie Worsley gives some pointers on how to make the most out of your relationship with a recruiter:
Work with your recruiter to find the best role. A job they present may not tick all the boxes, but headhunters know the market, and can steer your search realistically.
Use LinkedIn to showcase your expertise, personal interests and to round out your personality. Obviously, you’ll upload your CV, but more than that, follow companies and participate in groups you’re interested in and write articles in your area of expertise.
“Know what you don’t want.” Even if the salary is tempting, steer clear of jobs you don’t enjoy.
Reach for the salary you would like, but also know the minimum you are willing to accept. Figure in the cost of your commute. Travelling can cost you time and money.
If you’re not sure of the salary you should realistically be seeking, consider the advice from Hudson, an international recruitment firm, on how to ask for a raise. The first step they recommend is to research the value of the position you’re interested in: Ask peers and recruiters, then look online at comparison sites such as Wage Indicator.
If the offered salary seems low, look at (or ask for) added value. Perks can include travel reimbursement, more paid time off, a comprehensive health insurance package or childcare compensation.
You can also ask for a performance-based bonus, the Hudson team says, especially if salary budgets are an issue. “A one-time payment won’t affect the pay structure, so it might be easier to get.”
The Cover Letter
Jennifer Parris at FlexJobs doesn’t downplay the importance of a strong resume, but she says a cover letter can move your job search to the next level by demonstrating to a hiring manager your value as a problem solver.
To do that, you’ve got to understand the job description thoroughly, and also do some research as to how the position works within the company itself.
“Then,” Parris continues, “when writing your cover letter, discuss the challenges that the company faces and offer your insights on how you think you could help the company overcome them — if you were hired.
“Not only does this show that you took the time and effort to find out more about the company, but that you’re also a solutions-based person who will work as a team member to fix any issues. Both of these are very strong (and desirable) qualities that a potential boss is looking for in job candidates.”
Consider The Company’s Point of View
Identify any objections a hiring manager might have about your candidacy, and address those head-on in your resume. For example, hiring managers will often try to read between the lines to gauge the real reason you’re interested in joining their team, whether they’re a startup or part of a larger corporation.
“The risk,” writes Marco Mancesti, R&D director at IMD Business School in Switzerland, “is having colleagues who only join because ‘it will look good on their CV,’ and then leave as soon as the heat is on.”
In his International HR Adviser article, Mancesti suggests recruiters “use various angles to try to uncover the ‘real’ personal purpose,” including challenging the CV storyline. When you’re on the other side of the CV, as an applicant, make sure your interest in joining the firm will pass this scrutiny.
If you’ve a gap in your resume, you can try to deflect attention from it, but don’t attempt to hide the gap altogether. In fact, the best thing you can do is show how you’ve spent that time. Debra Donston-Miller, writing for job site The Ladders, has six ways to show recruiters how you’ve made productive use of that time.
One is to show relevant volunteer experience in the same manner you would a job; another is to include any training or further education you acquired during your period of unemployment.
If you’ve been out of work for a year or more, it might make sense to use a functional rather than chronological resume structure. By focusing on your skills and experience, rather than the dates or even names of employers, you take the emphasis off the fact that there is a long gap between jobs.
Career strategist and recruiter Jenny Foss of JobJenny gives an example on The Muse of how to address a gap in your career chronology within the resume itself:
“Say you relocated with your spouse to another state, and then didn’t find a new job for 10 months. Consider adding a statement right at the beginning of the job you ultimately landed that reads something like this: ‘Following a family relocation to Austin, accepted a client services role with this leading food manufacturer.'”
Women in the UK who’ve taken a decade or more away from their careers to raise a family have help getting back into the workforce with midlife internships. Amelia Hill at The Guardian says one organisation, called Women Returners, helps both former professionals as well as companies who want to access the highly qualified candidates who bring with them experience, motivation and stability.
“The typical scheme resembles a short-term consulting project,” said Julianne Miles, co-founder of Women Returners. “Returners work on CV-worthy projects which draw on their existing skills and experiences and they are paid accordingly. They can rebuild their professional confidence and skills in a supportive peer environment, receiving training, mentoring and access to corporate networks. They also get to practically test out the role and assess whether they want to return to a demanding corporate job.”
The End of the CV?
The whole scenario of trying to get your CV to stand out in a pile, grabbing the attention of an all-important recruiter, may soon be a thing of the past. Tom Davenport and Andrew Lavelle, co-founders of recruitment startup TalentPool, tell The Guardian that their online service matches graduates to jobs without the requirements of traditional resumes and cover letters.
“Its unique point,” says Davenport, “is that it does away with the need for a jobs board and online profiles for jobseekers. Instead, young people fill out a questionnaire about their qualifications and experience to form a talent database.”
Employers, usually small and medium-sized businesses with openings that are often unadvertised, search for specific qualifications or experience, and get a shortlist of interested candidates from TalentPool.
Davenport says all parties benefit: “We get rid of both job adverts and CVs without giving candidates public profiles. So, there’s no trawling; it’s very controlled and private.”
When Your Job is Good, It’s Great
Once you’ve landed the job, with or without a resume, the best case scenario is when the work generates excitement and you form relationships with your colleagues built on trust, loyalty and integrity.
Social media and content marketing expert Michaela Alexis recently turned down a great job with Amazon for her current position at an IT company in Ottawa, Canada. Why? “They’ve made me a fan, not because of crazy awesome perks or sky high salaries,” Alexis explains on her LinkedIn account, “but [because] of the people.
“Every day, I’m greeted by my wonderful coworkers, my work is always exciting and challenging, and most importantly, my bosses and colleagues believe in me, and push me to reach my full potential.”
It’s an exciting time to live and work in the UAE, and there are several young people and great innovators who are working on businesses throughout the region while staying close to their roots.
These 25 companies were founded by people who have a passion for the area, and wanted to make the lives of the people around them better, easier and more fun. Check out the top 25 most exciting UAE startups and how they’re disrupting the status quo.
Doing business abroad is extremely different from doing so in an English-speaking country. From a simple business card exchange to a full-fledged presentation, we’ve got some tips and tricks that will help you thrive when doing business abroad.
Learning English (Again)
The first obstacle you are likely to encounter is a language barrier. While English is the most commonly used language for business communications, there are still several nuances to consider. The English language is full of inconsistencies that cause non-native speakers to struggle with speaking and understanding the language.
Investing in property abroad has its drawbacks and advantages, and France is no exception. The real estate market in France is complex, with changing laws and property use subject to interpretation, but the opportunities are undeniable.
We’ve taken a look at what agents and lawyers have to say, and present it here as a point of starting your own research when you’re thinking about buying property in France. You’ll see advice on both residential and commercial leasing, as well as tips on valuation and taxes, and even how to get into the wine business.
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