Andrew Linger, Head of Executive Search at Robert Walters, explains how US firms are looking to London as they look to exploit growth opportunities in Europe.
Although the challenging economic conditions over the past four years have been well documented, the recent investment of a number of American companies in their UK operations has been a positive development.
What is attracting US firms to UK shores?
In particular, we have seen a number of US firms acquiring UK-based businesses and other opening new international headquarters in London and the South-East. Clearly the UK is appealing to these US employers but what exactly is attracting them to these shores? After saturating the American market, they regard London as an excellent gateway into the rest of Europe and therefore see it as offering strong potential for growth. They are also comfortable doing business here – they speak the same language and generally have a better understanding of the UK than other European or Asian markets. This is not to mention the fact that for start-ups, it’s a lot easier to set up a new business in the UK from a legal or tax perspective than, say, France for example.
What impact has this had on executive level recruitment?
This trend has had an interesting impact on the executive-level recruitment market. We have recently been asked to run searches, at Finance Director level, for several US companies either establishing a UK presence or seeking to further develop their UK or international aspirations. In some cases, these business expansions have a project focus as employers look to lay the groundwork before fully progressing with their plans. This has created some demand for specialist interim executives, highly valued due to typically being motivated by short periods of intense problem solving.
After saturating the American market, they regard London as an excellent gateway into the rest of Europe and therefore see it as offering strong potential for growth.
With its position as a truly global hub, London also continues to attract the best executives from overseas. From our experience, there is certainly more interest from senior European professionals in working in London than vice versa.
Overall, therefore, the UK continues to be an effective location in which US businesses can start and develop international operations. It allows them easy access to UK and international finance professionals who have experience and understanding of business methods and culture in European and international markets.
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Robert Walters Executive Search recruits senior executives on an interim and permanent basis. For more information, contact Andrew Linger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7509 8724.