The NZ Business Women’s Network - UK networking comes ‘home’ to Auckland

Written by Ruth Keeling.

AKL event March 2024Last month, the NZ Business Women’s Network held an inaugural event in Auckland for locally-based members, at BNZ Auckland HQ on Queen Street. The event on March 21st attracted a diverse group of women, many with extensive UK experience and others just about to set out on their British adventure. We also brought together a fantastic panel of Kiwi women with highly-relevant professional knowledge about living in the United Kingdom, and settling back into life in NZ afterwards.

What was immediately clear from the evening is how fond many people are of NZBWN and the taste of home that our Network offers Kiwis whilst living and working on the other side of the world. Pip Casey, a current NZBWN Board member now back in New Zealand, gave a short introduction to the Network and its activities in London. Pip encouraged women to sign up and get involved in its mentoring groups, book club, networking dinners and other events. The rest of the evening was moderated by Philip Wood OBE, President of the British New Zealand Business Association (BNZBA) in Auckland, who gave a warm welcome to the five main panellists: Minta Holton, Geraldine Collett, Kate Caldwell, Bridget Romanes and Frances Hardy. Together, the panellists provided collective insight into five critical aspects of relocation: finding jobs, foreign exchange, tax, relocation and home ownership.

Minta Holton leads the team at HOME Recruitment, who are specialists in the transition of Kiwi talent back home to NZ, particularly in corporate support roles. Minta encourages people new to London to embrace temporary and contract work to gain UK experience: “There’s always opportunity if you’ve got some flexibility’”, she explains. Minta recommends registering with no more than three recruitment agencies in London in order to build genuine partnerships. “New Zealanders have a wonderful reputation in the UK market: hardworking, well-educated, native English speakers - there are a lot of synergies.” When returning, Minta says, “people often make these huge assumptions that they’re going to have to take massive salary cuts to come back to New Zealand, and it’s actually not necessarily the case - be willing, be open, be patient and reconnect to your networks.” She recommends getting assistance to get your CV right, particularly in translating your prior experience into the local context, so that you hit the market running. Minta’s key tips for your resume: describe regional brands in terms of their market position, show career stability while highlighting progression, and make sure your current job title maps to the role you’re applying for (as UK employers tend to expect specialists, not generalist experience).

Geraldine Collett of Halo Financial spoke about the critical importance of timing in setting up banking arrangements and in moving foreign currency when relocating. Halo Financial is a longtime partner of the NZBWN and assists Network members with transferring money internationally, offering great exchange rates. “Exchange rates are never static, so be mindful of what might push the direction”, she advises, also keeping an eye on what’s coming on the policy horizon. Geraldine also mentioned Halo’s banking partners, who can help to get around the catch-22 of first needing a local address in order to get a bank account. Geraldine’s top tips are: never leave sorting finances until the last minute, track the currency market and give yourself at least three months, so you can transfer money at a beneficial time.

Kate Caldwell is Senior Manager in PwC Legal’s tax team in Auckland, advising internationally-exposed clients on tax planning, succession planning and asset structuring. As an expert in multijurisdictional tax affairs, Kate’s main takeaway for both expats and returnees is to be aware of the exact moment that your tax residency positions for both NZ and UK tax purposes will change. “It’s really important to get a grasp on what your personal tax residency position is and when it will change” she explained, but also important to note that date that you cease to be resident in one country and commence residency in another country may not perfectly align due to the difference between NZ's domestic tax residence rules and the UK's domestic tax residence rules. This means you may have a period of dual NZ/UK residence which means turning to the provisions of the NZ/UK double tax treaty to determine where you are ultimately considered tax resident. It is also important to be alive to the fact that, in some instances, your personal tax residence position could also potentially have an effect on the tax residence position of certain entities you are involved with - for example, any companies of which you are a director of. Kate also emphasised the importance of understanding the fundamental differences between the countries' tax regimes, and the specific tax exemptions and reliefs available to migrants in both jurisdictions.

Bridget Romanes is Principal of the award-winning global mobility firm, Mobile Relocation, working with many Kiwi returners to help them get settled back into New Zealand life. Bridget talked about the inevitable moment of culture shock in the “relocation cycle”, whether returning or leaving, and the need for personalised support for all members of the family. Her top tip: “simply do not give up within a year”, because people typically need more than 12 months to work through this full adjustment cycle. She also spoke about practical ways Kiwi returnees can support British partners while allowing them to develop their own identity in New Zealand. Critically, don’t forget to negotiate a relocation package appropriate to your grade and qualifications with your employer, even if you are ‘just coming home’, says Bridget.

Frances Hardy, Home Loan partner at BNZ, spoke about how returnees can be invisible to the local financial system when you have earned your wealth abroad. She recommends working with loan specialists who understand your journey and can help you ‘tick the boxes’ when providing overseas securities, income or capital. She says make sure your international wealth ‘counts’ towards getting you the best possible mortgage rate, and don’t let banks fob you off if you or your partner doesn’t have permanent residency. You don’t have to be a NZ citizen to take out a mortgage in New Zealand, just on a pathway to permanence.

The speakers’ part of the evening wrapped up with a humorous account of both professional relocation and personal reorientation from Grant Caunter, founder of “State of Play” non-alcoholic NZ beer, and former Global Director of Craft Beer at Heineken. Grant treated us with his story of returning to New Zealand from Europe during the pandemic to launch his line of low-alcohol craft beers. Friendly conversation continued afterwards over a glass of Kiwi wine and some samples of his beers. This was a great opportunity to grow local connections with returnees from the UK, and - for those heading off on their OEs - to pick the brains of those who’ve already done it.

The NZBWN event clearly resonated well with the small crowd of women who attended, and there are already plans for a similar event later in the year. Sign up for the NZBWN newsletter if you are interested to hear about future activities in Auckland, along with our regular monthly updates about our networking events in London.