Toting Up the Perks For Banks' Expatriate Workers

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Is an overseas job in your future? Here's a rundown of what a banker can expect in an international relocation package.

Besides paying for an expatriate's moving, storage and at least a month's temporary accommodations, plus the cost of a few visits home, investment banks usually cover children's tuition bills and job-placement help for spouses, according to the New York Times. Child care, a personal income tax subsidy, language lessons and help adjusting to the culture may be part of the deal as well.

When setting compensation, the Times says banks don't simply multiply U.S. or UK salaries and bonuses by the relevant foreign exchange rate. Instead, they rely on country price indexes compiled by ECA International, a London-based relocation agency. The highest-priced financial center for expatriates these days is Moscow, followed by Geneva and London.

"Many investment banks must now dig deeper to create relocation packages, sometimes dangling chauffeur-driven cars, club memberships and bodyguards when asking workers to move abroad," the newspaper says.

The basic package varies by destination. A car and chauffer are standard in Shanghai, while maid service and club memberships are often covered for expatriates in Hong Kong. Where physical safety is a concern - in places like Columbia and some Middle Eastern cities - employers pay for security personnel, kidnapping insurance and a bulletproof car.

Most multinational companies say they're moving from 0.5 percent to 1 percent of their employees abroad, and those figures are widely expected to increase. Among upper-tier investment banks and other large financial institutions, the fraction of employees posted overseas is probably much higher.

An accompanying story in Wednesday's Times details how banks and hedge funds are increasingly pursuing "frontier" or "emerging-emerging" markets such as Ghana, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.