Renewed interest in Cyprus as a corporate location is boosting the recruitment business and attracting more expat executives to the island.
Is GRS seeing more business since the Cypriot economy’s return to growth in 2016?
We started seeing a boost already in 2015 in the recruitment business, and are certainly getting the feeling that there is more growth and positivity in the market. Things have balanced out since the 2013 crisis, and a key difference to the last few years is the increasing number of companies setting up in Cyprus. Global regulation has been pushing international companies to create more substance for their operations, and we have definitely experienced the effects of this trend with companies looking for more staff to beef up their presence. Limassol especially is seeing a lot of interest, due in part to new companies in the Financial Services and Forex sectors establishing offices there. Along with the need for substance, another key driver for the renewed interest in Cyprus is that the country offers a cost-effective base for companies both in terms of general operational costs as well as taxation. The island has long been an attractive location for multinationals and has an excellent infrastructure to cater to the needs of cross-border business.
GRS has successfully established itself as a leading recruitment company in Cyprus, what sectors or niche industries are showing signs of growth?
We have a strong track record in finding experienced professional in the Financial, FX, Corporate and Legal services sectors in Cyprus. Limassol specifically has long been a key global hub for forex as well as binary options business, and we constantly receive requests to search and identify qualified personnel to fill in the ranks of this booming industry. We have a wide cross section of clients but we are increasingly seeing clients moving into Cyprus from Israel, Russia and the Middle East. After hydrocarbon discoveries were made in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in 2011, we recruited oil and gas professionals to service the needs of the major energy companies and their support services companies that were carrying out exploration in Cyprus waters. We also provided the workforce for APR Energy in their 450 MW mobile power plant in Libya off the back of the relationship we built with them when they were supporting the power supply in Cyprus, after the Mari Naval Base explosion. Many of the recruited staff was from Cyprus and due to the volatile nature and security situation in Libya the site and personnel were protected by former SAS security specialists. Last year we became the first company to be licensed by the Ministry of Labour to offer Temporary Recruitment Services and due to the stringent requirements we are currently the only company licenced to offer temporary recruitment services, which puts GRS in a unique position.
Following the 2013 financial crisis, Cyprus reached unprecedented levels of unemployment and more specifically youth unemployment. What is the situation today, and how do you see the landscape from a recruitment company point of view?
Youth unemployment remains a serious issue, however when we get requests from big companies operating in Cyprus to find graduates or young professionals, we have recently struggled to find so-called top-tier candidates. I believe this is because the majority of young Cypriots traditionally study abroad, in the US and UK, and following the crisis and soaring unemployment rates they chose to remain abroad for the time being, rather than come back home to find employment. This is naturally a trend and consequence of the economic situation of the past few years, and is sure to pass now that the economy has returned to growth and there are more opportunities opening up in the country.
Cyprus recently launched more incentives to attract high-earning expat executives, are you seeing more foreign talent coming into the country?
Cyprus certainly attracts foreign talent, especially if you look at the forex industry, which relies heavily on international staff and people with language skills. Usually the top executives, such as the CEOs, CFOs and operational managers, move here with a company, but often the other management positions are recruited on-site. Many corporations are looking for language skills, such as French and German, so these types of skills often come from foreign talent. It is easy to attract people to Cyprus thanks to its high quality of life and great Mediterranean climate, and cities like Limassol are very international with large expat communities. The government incentives have helped in making Cyprus even more attractive and in the last 10 years the expat demographic has changed quite drastically from being mainly British, to a more multicultural mix of nationalities. Limassol has seen a more significant increase in expats than the capital city of Nicosia, which is mostly due to the large amount of corporate service providers, forex and shipping businesses operating there.
What additional incentives or improvements could Cyprus introduce to attract more business to its shores?
Cyprus continues to offer a great location and many comparative advantages for international business, such as its infrastructure and tax position, but the country would benefit from being more streamlined and efficient in its procedures and processes. These are being worked on, but it is crucial to be proactive, expedite efforts to reduce bureaucracy and introduce more automation. Also the country has not reached its full potential in developing and promoting other aspects aside from its lovely beaches, there is much more to Cyprus and a more cosmopolitan attitude in nurturing this is needed. Ultimately, any expat looking to relocate to Cyprus and to bring business here is not only considering the legal and tax framework, but also the lifestyle and culture, and what it can offer in these terms.
GRS also set up a pay-roll service called Fairfax Yeaman, what led you to the decision to set up this company?
The company was originally launched to support GRS’ own operations, but evolved into also offering our clients the opportunity to outsource payroll and immigration issues. Both Donna and I (Donna Stephenson Director & Co-Founder) used family names of our grandparents as the brand we wanted to create was one of heritage and traditional values coupled with a strong service-based culture. As a leading recruitment agency it seemed a natural area to expand into Payroll, Accounting and Immigration Services. Through Fairfax Yeaman we offer customised and specialised services in all aspects of payroll as well as provident funds, bookkeeping and accounting. Outsourcing these types of services can be a significant cost and time saver. We have seen substantial growth in our diverse customer base. Today, we cater to international clients, as well as SMEs, start-ups and organisations originating from Central Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and the Middle East, all of whom have some form of operations in Cyprus.
GRS has already secured its position as the largest recruitment company in Cyprus, what is your strategy for future growth?
We currently have two offices in Cyprus, one in Nicosia and one in Limassol, as well as an office in Malta. We are exploring opportunities to open more offices in lower tax jurisdictions in Europe, as most of our clients have various international offices and this could create opportunities for us to expand as well. We have also recently hired a new person responsible for international IT, as there are increasing numbers of technology companies coming not only to Cyprus, but to this region. It is crucial to ensure we can cater to this sector as it is facing a phenomenal shortage of expertise in niche areas of technology.
How do you see GRS and Cyprus developing in the next few years?
GRS has the advantage of being an international company strongly rooted in Cyprus. We have 12 years of experience in the recruitment business and in the Cyprus market, as well as extensive knowledge gained through working with multinational clients. I am optimistic about the future and that we will go from strength to strength, as we are never complacent and keep evolving along with market conditions. As for the sector, I firmly believe there will continue to be much demand for accounting and legal expertise as well all niche areas of corporate business. Cyprus has much to offer in terms of investment and as a headquarter location for companies, and with the economy seeing a revival, business is set to grow.
28 July 2016