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Expat Investor : May June 2009
EXPATRIATE SAFETY Safeguarding expats Mike Penrose is regional director at International SOS, a leading provider of health and security risk mitigation and outsourced customer care. Here, he spells out ways in which expatriates can reduce personal risk whilst overseas. The unexpected targeting of Western business travellers during the recent terror attacks on Mumbai has provided food for thought for those responsible for maintaining the safety of travelling and expatriate workers. Anyone with a grievance, such as terrorists and protesters, now know they can create a great impact for their cause by focusing on soft targets such as Western business travellers, expatriates or tourists.However, in the pursuit of opportunities in markets less exposed to the current economic pressures, many companies are now looking again at regions previously deemed too risky. Due to their unpredictable, often volatile, climates, fulfilling duty of care to expatriates in certain regions becomes increasingly problematic. The process of researching and implementing a risk mitigation strategy for expatriates can appear to be a complicated logistical challenge, due to increasing social and economic volatility, intensification of global and regional conflicts and an increase of terrorist attacks in what are commonly deemed ‘safe’ regions. Yet there are several ground rules management can use as a starting point to drafting an efficient travel risk mitigation policy, providing expatriates with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and continuing support. Management should provide all candidates for expatriation with indepth training, outlining key health and safety challenges in the region of deployment. This programme should go beyond simply providing expatriates with a practical ‘dos and don’ts’ guide and offering reactive assistance to a crisis. Fulfilling duty of care should be viewed as an ongoing responsibility, requiring a great deal of commitment from both employer and employee. Given the plethora of sociopolitical and medical risks potentially facing expatriates, a business should conduct a sensible degree of prior research into the proposed region of redeployment. This is essential at this stage, and it would be unwise for employers to dismiss any threat as unlikely, or assume an issue is general knowledge and skim over it during the risk assessment stage. This can be potentially damaging or even fatal further down the line. Therefore, to better prepare expatriates, it is important for a business to have access to reliable, upto-date information regarding the nature of risks in a region. Establishing communications with a reputable source on the ground is the most effective way to achieve this and provides a risk overview of a region. This enables a business to plan a rapid response for any emerging or suggested threats and keeps expatriates briefed on events as they unfold. Organisations should perform a thorough risk assessment of proposed ventures and fashion a detailed policy to meet expatriate requirements and any locationspecific challenges. Identifying common indicators as to where risk may arise, such as the state of medical infrastructure, known diseases and current security climate in regions with a history of conflict or political activism, will assist in understanding the risk landscape expatriates can expect to face. From here, a solid contingency plan should begin to take shape. However, this preparation alone will not be enough to provide protection against more immediate, unseen threats. Security issues, particularly in some areas of West Africa, where disputes over the ownership of resources can be a catalyst for conflict. If an international organisation chooses to redeploy an individual to such a region, it should be able to confidently say it has the security framework in place to offer Zurich Bank International There’s strength and then there’s Zurich Strength To find out more, or to request an application form call: +44(0)1624 671666 Email: email@example.com or visit our website (quoting ref no. EI05) 3.00% GROSS PA/AER* Fixed for 1 year! Secure your deposit and interest rate by opening a 1 Year Fixed Rate Bond with Zurich Bank International Limited. Backed by one of the world's largest financial services providers, Zurich Bank International is part of the Zurich Financial Services Group, which has its Group headquarters in Switzerland. The Zurich Bank International 1 Year Fixed Rate Bond (Issue 17) gives you a superb annual interest rate of 3.00% gross. • Interest rate fixed for one year from account opening • minimum balance £10,000 • limited issue www.zurichbankinternational.com R swift, reactive assistance to individuals in crisis. It is also important to consider business continuity in the event of evacuation, by having systems in place to ensure the company continues to operate smoothly. The attacks in Mumbai were the first time foreign nationals have been systematically targeted in India, underlining the need for travellers to prepare for the unseen. While some have cited these strikes as an isolated incident, they raise many far- reaching concerns global corporations need to address. Even at the slightest hint that the safety of employees could be compromised, companies should be prepared to provide full support to protect their most valuable asset. When the wellbeing of individuals is at stake, overlooking potential threats at planning stage can spell disaster once an expatriate venture has begun. While the chase for profit may see corporates entering risky yet profitable markets, this is no excuse for a blinkered perception of risk. The significance of a thorough pretravel risk assessment and the implementation of a solid security framework cannot be underestimated. *AER stands for Annual Equivalent Rate which is a notional rate illustrating the contractual rate as if paid and compounded on an annual basis. Zurich Bank International Limited,PO Box 422, Lord Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM99 3AF, British Isles. Telephone: +44 (0) 1624 671666 Fax: +44 (0) 1624 627526. Registered office: 43-51 Athol Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM99 1ET, British Isles. Zurich Bank International Limited is registered in the Isle of Man Number 22847. Telephone calls may be recorded. Zurich Bank International Limited is part of Zurich Financial Services Limited, a Swiss corporation listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. Zurich Bank International Limited places funds with other parts of its group and thus its financial standing is linked to that of the group. Depositors may wish to form their own view on the financial standing of Zurich Bank International Limited and the group based on publicly available information. The latest report and accounts are available at www.zurichbankinternational.com. Zurich Bank International Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Bank which is regulated by the Irish Financial Regulator. Licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission to take deposits. May/June 2009 ● EXPAT INVESTOR 9
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