Venezuelan Electricity Outages

Zenaida Romero of MI Global has advised us that problems with the national electricity supply is effecting internet and telephone services.
Authorities are gradually restoring electricity services but these efforts are taking some time.
Please expect interruptions and delays in communications.

Lance Allen joins Aires

Aires in the USA has announced that Lance Allen, GMS, has joined the company as General
Manager of the West Coast Region. In his role, Lance will be responsible for the continued
growth and development of Aires’ business in the region.

Lance has over 30 years of mobility industry experience having worked extensively in the
United States, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He has worked for relocation management,
destination services, and household goods shipping companies over the course of his career,
specialising in strategic company development in key markets, client relationship building,
and team development.

“We are excited to have Lance join Aires,” said Aires’ President Jeff Wangler. “His years of
experience will be a great asset to our company as we continue to expand and develop our
West Coast presence. Lance brings the perfect mix of abilities to Aires, from building
strategic alliances with clients, to developing successful operations and management teams,
to successful business development and growth.”

Most recently, Lance was based in Hong Kong, serving as the Managing Director for North
Asia for a leading mobility firm. In that role, he oversaw all business lines in the North Asia
Cluster, serving as a member of the senior leadership team. He will directly apply his years
of management experience in his new role with Aires.

“Being a service provider and partner with Aires, I have admired the organisation for
decades and now I have the opportunity to be part of their team,” said Lance. “Aires is a
true market leader in the mobility industry, and I feel honored to be joining such a strong
and professional organisation.”

Lance received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Indiana University and a Master of
Business Administration from Pepperdine University. He has been instrumental in
establishing CSR, ISO, and other relevant certifications for organisations throughout his
career. He has also served within several industry organizations, including the Board of
Governors for the American Club and the Board of Governors for FIDI-Asia (during which
time he also served as Vice President and President).

Enhancing the Mobility Journey without Increasing Costs

By Vaida Paulauskaite, Global Client Service Manager, Aires

More often we see companies tasked with the balancing act of developing a competitive
global mobility program while maintaining/reducing costs. Mobility teams are challenged to
act as business owners who do more with less, while simultaneously enhancing the mobility
experience – which is at the centre of all initiatives.

Here are some tips on how to enhance the mobility journey without adding costs to your
program:

Homework Share

  • Engage partners to do ‘homework’ on the programme elements they are responsible for.
    The intent of this exercise is to gather consultative advice relevant specifically to your
    programme. This will help evaluate if the package offering is competitive and if all services
    are still adding value to the overall programme. Encourage your partners to share what
    other companies are doing to fine-tune the programme and stay agile.
  • Review assignee feedback, either through the partner tools and resources or conducting
    your own additional internal survey to gather notes on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Review your program exceptions to find process improvements that will allow you to
    manage the program more effectively and/or reduce costs. To give an example: your
    relocation exception data indicates that the top category of spend is for temporary living
    extension. Following close analysis, you find that families find it challenging to find new
    homes in that location due to limited destination support they receive through the current
    programme. Because of this review, you decide to provide an additional day of home search
    support to future relocation packages, which is more cost effective than an additional month
    of corporate housing extension and helps to reduce the number and costs of these
    exceptions.
  • Review actual benefit utilization. You may find that a certain benefit is underutilized;
    however, its cost opportunity is high. By removing it from the standard package, it will give
    you room for considering a different service in another area that would complement the
    assignee’s experience.

Say Yes to Technology

  •  New HR/Global Mobility technology solutions keep cropping up, which can give you a great
    view of your mobility programme at your fingertips. This allows more room for you to be
    strategic, efficient, and consultative with the businesses you work with and to address more
    specific programme requirements and changing needs.
  • Review the needs and demographics of your managed population to evaluate how much
    technology they need, and what type of service would be the right fit. For example, some
    assignees may find online language courses or web tool cultural training more attractive due
    to added flexibility of being able to use whilst still at their home location, in comparison to
    class-based or one-on-one sessions at the host location. Such an alternative solution would
    not only meet the individual assignee needs and demonstrate your programme’s flexibility,
    but also would generate some cost savings as a technology solution.
  • Embrace various additional technology resources, such as video surveys for the household
    goods move, especially if the assignee has very few items to move. It takes less time out of
    their day to manage it, and the movers are well equipped in preparation. You may also create short videos to demonstrate what the new office location is like. The opportunities for technology are limitless.

Flexibility

  • Consider offering flexibility to the relocating assignee, catering to their individual needs. As
    an example, we see a trend of people ‘traveling light’. For example, they may not require a
    20-foot container, which the company budgeted for. Perhaps they can instead utilize a small
    air shipment or excess baggage in lieu of the full container shipment. Consider that they
    could also receive an additional flex-benefit to complement their individual needs, such as
    language training or reimbursement of a nanny or dog-sitter on the day they are moving.

Social Integration

Within the mobility packages, social integration is sometimes overlooked, even though it is a
very important factor for the overall mobility experience of the relocating assignee and their
family. Transferee surveys indicate that they often feel a sense of disconnection and
loneliness when relocating. Here are some tips that will help boost morale and inclusion:
 Provide access to socializing and networking opportunities for the assignees,
spouses/partners and children relocating to the same location. Perhaps sign them up for
next 3 events.

  • Share social company group pages if available.
  • Offer corporate membership to expatriate organisations.
  • Assign mentors in the office who may have gone through a similar relocating/ settling-in
    experience that they could connect with.
  • Include spouses throughout the process, for them to feel just as much supported and
    connected.

Solutions are limitless. Explore the above initiatives, share your success stories with us, and
surround yourself with innovative partners and programme stakeholders to build and
enhance your brand as the best employer. Keeping the businesses pleased with the most
effective cost management.

One Year Later: 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Aires in Pittsburgh explains the actions the company took following the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that came into force at the beginning of last year.
On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – H.R.1 into law.
Many of the provisions took effect on January 1, 2018 and are set to expire on December 31, 2025. The Act contains provisions that impact individuals and employers with both domestic and international cross-border relocations. Implications are considered at the individual level and for global mobility programmes as a whole.

The major component impacting mobility programs and the relocation industry was the repeal of the qualified moving expense deduction and moving expense reimbursement exclusions. Previously, moving expenses were excluded from taxable wages. Under the Act, these are now subject to federal income tax, FICA/Medicare, FUTA, state and local reporting, and withholding.
In January 2018 there was uncertainty in the relocation industry regarding how expenses that crossed tax years would be treated. Aires consulted the top tax professionals in the industry and developed a conservative approach to ensure our clients were recording earnings appropriately.

We found that many of our clients also sought guidance from Aires regarding the following
impacts of the Act:

1. Increased individual assignment costs which were not budgeted from a business perspective.
2. Increased overall costs of mobility programmes offering tax assistance / tax equalisation due to gross-up factor in multiple jurisdictions.
3. International assignments may not generate enough foreign tax credit to offset additional tax costs where other jurisdictions exempt these expenses from taxation.
4. Mobile employees would not be able to deduct moving expenses from personal taxes.

We began working with our clients to explore ways to help mitigate these additional costs while also allowing them to make decisions to support the business, stay competitive with mobile talent, and minimize disruption and hardship for mobile employees. Initial assessments we helped our clients with include:

1. Revisiting cost estimates for assignments where moving expenses were incurred after December 31, 2017 and determine extent of additional costs.
2. Working with tax service providers to evaluate leveraging unused, excess foreign tax credits.
3. Determining cost impact of substituting furnished accommodations for large household goods shipments. (A portion of the furnished accommodations may be excludable under IRC Section 911).
4. Determining cost impact of substituting a discretionary allowance for large household goods shipments.

After analysing the data and taking consideration of all options, most of our clients decided to cover the additional tax costs of Household Goods and Final Move Travel. Although the relocation costs would increase, our clients determined that corporate tax cuts received from the Act would offset a majority of the impact. Very few international assignment or tax equalisation policies were updated, but where required, clients simply included an addendum referencing the additional gross-up on such items.

In September 2018, the IRS issued Notice 2018-75 which provided guidance that if a move
occurred or started prior to 1/1/18 the expense could be treated as non-taxable under the
previous law. Aires initiated full-year reviews for all of our clients and sent corrections with
the final payroll reporting. These corrections greatly assisted our clients by reducing
earnings to be reported and, where applicable, reduced their overall gross-up cost.

The logistics of how to process additional gross-ups were challenging due to that fact that
some states did not conform to the Internal Revenue Service code. Our clients began to
realise that their payroll systems defaulted to state tax treatment consistent with the federal
law for relocation earnings reporting. Adjustments were required to our payroll software to
account for states that did not treat household goods and final move travel as taxable.

We made enhancements to our systems to produce adjustments that would reduce state
earnings as well as the related state tax. We worked with many of our clients to produce
payroll adjustments that would also help them save on gross-up costs.

A few clients considered adjusting their programs by limiting shipment sizes or offering a
discard and donate programme to help minimise their employees’ shipments. In some cases,
clients offered a small incentive in lieu of storage.

Despite the initial concerns, our clients understood the importance of retaining key mobility
talent. By helping our clients implement adjustments that enabled them to be competitive,
we collectively limited the exposure of the tax changes to the relocating employee.

Article written by Kamryn Bohn, Richard Loebig, & Bobby Mathew from Aires

Aires Awarded Highmark Health’s Best Practice Award

Aires is pleased to announce that the company has earned Highmark Health’s Best Practice Area Performance award as a mobility partner in recruiting. The award was presented to Aires at a ceremony held in Pittsburgh on January 17.

“We are proud to be recognized for our service excellence, and to receive this award from a fellow Pittsburgh-based company makes it even sweeter,” said Aires Vice President, Central Region, John Casuccio. “The dedicated team at Aires that serves the Highmark and Allegheny Health Network’s transferring employees deserve all the credit for their focused advocacy and high-touch urgency to make sure each move goes smoothly.”

Highmark Heath’s executives noted Aires’ service, processes, and superior account focus as key reasons for the award.

Valparaiso Port Strike Ends

OMNI have been informed that the strikes affecting Valparaiso port have now ended.

Apparently an agreement has now been signed between port workers and the Ministry of Labour which should ensure that operations return to normal soon.

Thanks again to Sylvia Garcia at Ward Van Lines.

Valparaiso Port Strike Resumes

Workers in the Chilean port of Valparaiso have resumed their strike causing significant delays for both imports and exports to the city. Protests in support of the strikes have turned increasingly violante and have also spread to other ports along the Pacific coast.

The strike, which has been on and off for over a month now has been called by workers who demand bonuses, more formal contracts and better working conditions.

Unfortunately there is no immediate sign of agreement being made and all shippers should prepare for significant delays.

Thanks again to Sylvia Garcia aty Ward Van Lines for keeping us updated.

Update to Chilean Customs Requirements

OMNI would like to thank Luis Silva at Unipack SA, Chile for providing the following update to the Chilean customs requirements…

 

NEW CUSTOMS REGULATIONS FOR AIR SHIPMENTS

Please be advised that due new Chilean Customs regulations, the import procedure was changed for all the AIR SHIPMENTS weighting 300 kilos or more with immediately effect.

Thorough inspection for shipments over 300 kilos ( 660 lbs) gross

All shipments will require an additional thorough inspection performed by the moving company at airport facilities This is additional to the Customs inspection that is always performed. The fully inspection will delay clearance in 1 or 2 days and will increase destination and storage charges.

Detailed Packing list:

Like some other countries, Chilean Customs Authorities are requesting a fully detailed packing list, especially with clothing, electronics and wooden items. This request is mandatory for all air shipments regardless the weight.

  • Wooden items must be indicated in the Packing list (furniture, ornaments, picture or painting frames, among others).
  • A detailed item by item list is required. For example, the clothes must indicate the number of pants, shirts, shoes, etc.
  • Electronic devices must indicate type, brand name, model and serial number.
  • If the goods are placed in 2 or more crates, the packing list must indicate which items are in which crate.

The moving companies will not be liable for additional charges and/or the consequences for not meet these mandatory requirements. Some of the consequences can be, fines  additional charges, retention of the goods, destruction of the forbidden goods and smuggling prosecution.

Significant delays at Valparaiso port, Chile

Please be aware that, as a result of an ongoing strike by customs employees, there are significant delays for both import and export at Valparaiso port, Chile. Meetings are scheduled to discuss workers’ concerns and hopefully an agreement will be reached soon.

Thanks to Sylvia Garcia at Ward Van Lines for the update.

***UPDATE***

03/12/18 – Please note that following two weeks of delays, an agreement has been reached and the strike is now over.

Valparaiso port should gradually return to normal in the coming weeks.

Thank you.

GInter Receives Highest Cartus Honours

OMNI Member GInter of Sao Paulo, Brazil has been as the top supplier to the Cartus Global Network in the “All Things Moving” category.

Robson Granero and Patrick Ohara received the award at the recent Cartus Conference in Seatlle, WA.

Many congratulations to all at GInter!

Thirteen Aires Employees attain CRP Designation

Aires is pleased to announce the new Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) designations obtained from Worldwide ERC® by 13 employees. All candidates who prepared for this year’s certification successfully passed the exam, taking Aires total number to CRP-designated employees to 137. 

“At Aires, we value lifelong learning and the achievement of goals, and each year we support a group of employees in their pursuit of the Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) designation awarded by the Worldwide ERC®,” said Aires’ Trainer/Instructional Designer, Michelle McPeak. “This year, we are excited to announce that 13 of our team members in various roles ranging from Accounting to Operations to IT achieved their CRP. These dedicated employees took on this challenge by meeting for sixteen weeks to study, prepare, and assist each other in this endeavor. We are so proud to say that 100% of our candidates succeeded in achieving their goal this year. Their commitment to this effort was outstanding.”

Those receiving the CRP designations serve in a wide range of internal roles and include:

·   Justin Bibbo – Expense Management Account Coordinator

·   Melissa Bigelow – Post Relocation Survey Team Lead

·   Christine Buckley – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Amy Caldwell – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Richard Demus – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Cassy Hanna – Client Service Manager

·   Amber McMullen – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Rick Metzger – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Kelly Policicchio – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Amy Preston – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Emily Ptak – Account Manager

·   Jennifer Reibie – Policy & Property Consultant

·   Matt Surdock – CIS Application Support

Note on Importing Appliances into Cyprus

OMNI would like to thank Natasha at Orbit Moving & Storage in Cyprus for providing the following information:

Any appliances that do not have the CE markings on them should not be shipped to Cyprus as the Customs officials in the Republic of Cyprus may confiscate them, should they be found.  Also note that all shipments from NON- EU origin countries are physically inspected by the customs.

Rob O’Donnell, PHR, joins Aires as Vice President of Organizational Development

Aires is pleased to announce that Rob O’Donnell, PHR, has joined the company as Vice President of Organizational Development. In his role, Rob will be responsible for leading the Human Resources department at Aires and work to decrease organizational effort while increasing positive results, growing Aires’ return on management.

Mr. O’Donnell brings more than 30 years of comprehensive management, human resources, organizational development, and business consulting experience to Aires. He has spent the last decade with Solutions 21, a leading management consulting firm, as the Managing Director of Consulting Services. He provided detailed human performance consulting services to Aires during his tenure with Solutions 21.

“We have worked closely with Rob for many years as he provided excellent consultative services through Solutions 21,” said Aires’ President, Jeff Wangler. “We are pleased to have him join the company to strategically manage Aires’ human resources and organizational development efforts. He has a long history of experience and knows Aires well. His relationship with our company and years of experience make him the ideal choice for the role of Vice President of Organizational Development.”

Mr. O’Donnell has partnered with organizations around the world to help shape strategy and prepare emerging talent, focusing on abundance, purpose, stewardship, and transparent accountability. He will apply this approach in his new role, allowing Aires to continue growing as a leader in the relocation industry.

“I have admired this organization for a decade, and now I finally get to be a part of it. The timing was perfect, and this was an opportunity I could not let pass by,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “Aires is a disruptive force in the industry. I want to make sure that we are thought leaders in everything we do internally, setting the standards across the industry.

Strikes in Brazil

OMNI would like to thank Laura Ganon at Fink Mobility for providing the following information about two strikes in Brazil.

  1. Customs strike: the go-slow strike that has been happening for several months in Brazil has now  intensified. Customs clearance is still being done but very slowly also affecting port charges.

  2. Truckers strike: truckers have began a strike in Brazil, preventing any truck from circulating on the roads linking cities. This has affected distribution, leading to a lack of fuel and all types of products on the shelves.

Tori Ferrante becomes OMNI president

Salvatore (Tori) Ferrante, from Crown Worldwide Moving & Storage in California became the president of OMNI at the network’s annual conference in Palm Beach in March.  Tori joined the OMNI board in 2015 and now takes over from Keith Meader who steps down after a two-year term in the role.

OMNI is a global organisation of market leading moving and relocation companies that combine to present a unified network serving the corporate mobility market.  The network includes 160 locations in 57 countries.  Speaking of the unique value of the OMNI network Tori said that from the outside it’s really hard to understand the power of the owners and CEOs of the industry’s top companies getting together to learn from each other and share ideas.  “We are not speed dating,” he said. “We are getting to know each other and sharing things at a personal level in environments that are hard to reproduce.  It happens over time.  You can’t rush it.  It’s priceless!”

On a more operational level Tori said that OMNI frequently appears on RFPs (Requests for Proposal) for corporate contracts because companies want to know about affiliations.  This was likely to increase now that it has become compulsory for all OMNI members to use the Dow Jones Risk and Compliance system to provide confidence of compliance for its members’ corporate customers. “We see this as an essential service to our customers and are very proud that OMNI has become the first global network in the world to take compliance seriously in this way.”

Tori said that there was a long list of companies that wanted to join OMNI however the strict focus on quality and market leadership would not be compromised. “OMNI is the most focussed, most vetted, highest quality organisation in the industry,” said Tori. “We want to grow our network, but we won’t give up the standard of market leader. New members must make our organisation stronger and bring new corporate business to the network.”