In The Spotlight: Latin America
Latin America witnessed another period of strong volatility as early 2016 saw a slide in global oil prices, as well as other commodities, which has had a noticeable impact on the region’s currencies. Despite the region’s recent political and economic challenges, Latin America continues to attract international companies.
BGRS (BGRS) has an extensive experience in region. For more than 100 years Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), BGRS’s parent company, has had a presence in Latin America, supporting the establishment of a service center in São Paulo, Brazil in 2011. The service center covers Mexico, Central and South America leveraging long-standing local relationships in region.
BGRS has a thorough understanding of various industry-specific policies and practices in the region gained by managing employee moves for clients from an array of industry verticals. To ensure adequate support in this varied and challenging region all of our local relocation consultants are tri-lingual, speaking English, Portuguese, and Spanish, and lived abroad giving them a unique perspective and understanding of clients’ and customers’ needs.
Gustavo Perez is the Director of Operations South America at BGRS’s São Paulo, Brazil office. He took the time to speak to us about his experience in Brazil.
The BGRS service center has operated in São Paulo since 2011. What do you think has contributed to our success in the region?
Gustavo, Director, Operations, São Paulo: The BGRS name holds a lot of weight in the region – BAM has been a presence for over 100 years owning and operating $16 billion in assets, and investing in renewable energy, utilities, agriculture, and properties in South America.
The service center was established to support clients with increasing moves into, out of and within Latin America, providing a service grounded in the understanding of local regulations, customs and culture. Our clients needed a provider with global mobility expertise coupled with the ability to develop relationships with local suppliers for effective service delivery and ensuring compliance. Our people have the right language skills and cultural understanding to prepare mobility managers, local Human Resources teams and the relocating employees for the challenges and nuances of the countries in the region. In many instances we are able to provide our clients with an on-site resource to temporarily support and train their local Human Resources teams.
What are some of the key considerations for companies moving talent into LATAM?
Gustavo: The global mobility landscape in Latin America is still relatively new, and joined with cumbersome bureaucratic procedures, it may contribute to frustration for both the client and the relocating employee. Communication can be indirect, so it’s important to set up accurate expectations of time needed to successfully relocate employees into the region. Even something as simple as getting a driver’s license can be complex in the region. Safety and security is also a concern and we work with our clients to ensure their employees and their families receive appropriate level of support.
Many Latin American countries have specific local billing requirements and currency restrictions. Our clients typically value our ability to consult in terms of global mobility related financial administration, supplier and assignee expense payments.
We provide peace of mind to our clients because we have a deep rooted knowledge of local culture, practices and challenges, and an ability to effectively set and manage our clients’ relocating employees’ expectations
What’s different in mobility in LATAM compared to five years ago?
Gustavo: We have noticed a rise in intraregional moves in addition to the traditional western in-bound expatriate. As the talent mobility into and within the region matures, these intraregional moves can be cost effective, with less complex immigration requirements, and faster cultural integration.
We also notice that the mobility related compliance requirements and the associated risks are better understood by the local business units. There is a strong focus on ensuring quality, compliant service delivery via the on the ground service delivery partners. BGRS has a locally based, dedicated, supply chain manager and, being independent of the supply chain, has ability to partner with best-in-class local suppliers.
Have you experienced anything unique in the sector given the upcoming Olympics?
Gustavo: The summer Olympics will certainly draw a great deal of spectators and locals. I would recommend to any company moving employees to Brazil leading up to the event as in the months after it to anticipate delays in household goods shipments and immigration procedures. During the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro will be chaotic and temporary accommodation may be limited, so planning ahead is critical.
Given your deep knowledge of Brazil and the region, what are some recommended “must see” spots. What are your top three places to visit in region – whether as a relocating employee or longtime resident?
Gustavo: That’s a tough question considering all the beautiful places in South America, so I will pick my three favorites:
Rio de Janeiro, also known as “Cidade Maravilhosa” Wonderful City, is one of the most visited cities in the southern hemisphere and is known for its natural settings, carnival celebrations, beaches and for being the host of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Buenos Aires is one of the largest and most populous of South American capitals, often referred to as the Paris of South America because of its European-style architecture and rich cultural life, with the highest concentration of theatres in the world. It is also the birthplace of the current Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis, and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
Lastly, there is a city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region, called Cartagena de Indias. It’s a wonderful location known for its excellent beaches, its colonial walled city, and a fortress that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.