MUMBAI (TIP): The trend of Indians returning from abroad to work here has picked up pace with the recovery in the country’s economy. Counter intuitively this is even as the monetary benefit that these executives could expect to earn has reduced over the last few years. The gap in premium between what the managers would have expected, say, three years back and now has nearly halved, say hiring experts. However, the reasons for the homing pigeons coming back to their lofts are quite similar — family matters and better job prospects.

Despite halving premiums, the trend is no longer restricted to largely IT as was seen earlier. Recruitment experts say it’s a more broad-based trend now encompassing sectors like banking and finance, pharma, auto, textiles and food processing. “With the recovery of the Indian economy and increase in the number of Indian companies looking to expand globally, there is a definite rise in the number of Indian repatriates,” said Moorthy K Uppaluri, CEO, Randstad India, a leading recruitment and staffing firm.

The search for top talent coupled with high inflation in India has helped to reduce the difference in compensation between India and the western countries. “About a decade ago, the difference in the junior and middle levels was as much as 75%, and at the top management level it was about 50% to 60%. Today, the difference at the junior and middle levels is about 50%, and at the top it’s just about 30% to 40%,” said Uppaluri.

According to Nilay Khandelwal, regional director, Michael Page, a recruitment firm, the difference is thinning down on functions which have been in India for a longer time than others, such as analytics, risk, finance and operations in banking. “The gap has been reduced as the early movers had a better advantage than people moving at later stages. So, for example, a 40-50% premium in the past is now reduced to 20- 30%,” said Khandelwal.

Post the financial crisis of 2008, banks in India started grooming talent from within so that they don’t have to rely on expats and returning Indians. In finance and operations, where the supply is greater than the demand, Khandelwal said the gap in premium salary (pre-2011 levels and now) for returning Indians has reduced. “So if a VP level in finance and operations was earlier coming at Rs 50 lakh, he/she today is ready to take up the assignment for between Rs 35-40 lakh,” said Khandelwal.

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Foreign banks in particular are witness to this reversal of brain drain. “We have seen a lot of interest across the developed markets from managers wanting to relocate to India, whether for personal or professional reasons. In the last 18 months, the trend of returning Indians has gathered momentum,” said Anuranjita Kumar, chief HR officer, Citi South Asia. “The last time around when we witnessed such a trend was a decade ago between 2005-07 when Indian GDP growth was around 8% to 9%. However, following the subsequent uncertainty surrounding the global financial crisis and lower growth in India, the trend plateaued out,” said Kumar.

At Citi, Indian managers based abroad with varied experience have indicated their interest to come back to India, given the positive market sentiment. As compared to the 9%growth in compensation in the Indian banking sector, developed markets offer around 2%. “More than compensation, the opportunity for these managers is in up-skilling themselves in a growing market like India,” said Kumar.

With economic growth stalling in the West, leading to slower career growth opportunities, India is a market which appears to be more dynamic, offering better job prospects to NRIs. What’s assisting the process is a change in the standard of living in India and its education system.

For Akash Kapoor (name changed on request), a senior management official working for a multinational bank, who returned to India after spending over a decade in London, adjusting to the improved quality of life which came at a more affordable rate was clearly a plus point.

“The standard of living has risen here and international schooling is, in fact, better and more affordable,” said Kapoor, who returned to India so that his children could reconnect with their roots.

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