Name: John D Hoff
Position: Partner – Head of Center of Excellence
UniMobility, Partner – Head of Center of Excellence (United Kingdom/France): 2016 – Present
VOLT Associés, Senior Advisor/Attorney at Law (France): 2017 – Present
C4 Ventures, COO/Chairman of the Board/HR Operational Partner (United Kingdom): 2016 – 2017
EY, Tax Partner (France): 2014 – 2016
FIDAL, Partner/Head of Human Capital (France): 2004 – 2014
EY, Executive Director (France): 2002 – 2004
Arthur and Andersen & Co, Head of Performance and Reward (France): 1999 – 2002
PwC, Manager, HRS/IAS (France/United Kingdom): 1996 – 1999
A: I grew up in Paris but later moved to London where I attended the French Lycee in South Kensington. Almost all of my friends were expatriates’ children, so I learned to appreciate people with multi-cultural backgrounds. Following my studies in accounting, tax and finance I logically went to work for one of the Big 4 (Big 6 at the time!), but decided to apply for a position in expatriate taxes since I thought it would better match my desire to work in a truly international environment. With the exception of a 2-year period working in private equity/venture capital I have been faithful to global mobility for 25 years.
A: At UniMobility, we become the global mobility function of our clients. My tax experience is of great value in discussions with our tax providers. We are able to obtain better pricing, but more importantly we get a better value for the pricing. We know how to facilitate the work of the provider, but in exchange we are asking for a truly global coordination and a faster turnaround.
A: I have been an expat four times in my life (each in a different scenario ranging from a full package to a local employment contract). From these experiences I learned that small details from the driving license (can I drive or get car insurance with a foreign license?) to schooling for children can be of paramount importance in the mind of the expatriate. The package is clearly important, but if the small details are taken care of the expat will be able to focus on his/her job much faster. Therefore, I always try to take very pragmatic approach and do away with stressful matters on behalf of the expat.
A: Overall, I think the global mobility industry has been doing great the last 10 years. We are no longer seen as a cost management issue but rather as managers of an international talent pool. Companies cannot claim to be global players if they do not truly build an international talent management policy. However, it is true that many companies still see international assignments as a costly process with the procurement department focusing only on reducing costs without any consideration to human capital value. We need to be better at explaining ROI on global mobility assignments. HR needs a better financial presentation so that finance directors/CFOs understand the value created.
A: For large companies two options exist--build your own or purchase from a provider. My experience has shown me that building your own is usually financially more expensive in the long term due notably to the need for updates. For tax calculations large companies should go with the trusted names like AIRINC or Assignment Pro by Equus. Smaller companies can look at Smart-Expatriation.
A: Global mobility managers are very well placed to push this agenda since they manage a global talent workforce. It their job to find the best man/woman for the job regardless of location, taking into account the value created for the cost of the assignment. Intercultural training should be extended not only to expatriates but to HR managers as well in order to help them better understand how to manage a global workforce diverse and united.
A: Global mobility needs to completely integrate financial ROI and talent management into their manner of working. The head of global mobility needs to raise the question of the agenda with the CFO and HR directors so as to implement a global assignment policy which not only is consistent with the current strategy of the group but also prepares the group for future strategies.
A: The digital revolution will continue to change the way we do things ranging from software calculating the volume of furniture to be moved without a physical visit to complete tax and compensation packages software. The changes are very numerous: from big data (selection of right expatriates) to cloud based HR systems which will include all information about the assignment from the employment contract, pay-slips, tax returns etc. We will be in a situation where the expatriate themselves will be logging and accessing the required information. This expat management database accessible from iPhone or android phone will need to be populated with all relevant information. This creates a need for the HR expat management teams to be knowledgeable about IT and certainly to have a better integration of work with the IT department. I feel great about all these exciting changes.