Move to Russia, bring your mother

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Russia is considering shaking up its visa laws to lure foreign financial professionals and make a challenge as a major financial centre. There's just a couple of problems - most international firms are still pulling back from the country, and domestic players seem more interested in recruiting locals.

According to the Moscow Times (brought to our attention via Financial News), a bill has been presented to the Russian government which would make it decidedly easier for investment bankers to make the move there.

The proposals aim to eliminate the need for work permits for expat financial services professionals and extend visas up to five years. It's even suggesting workers' parents should be included as candidates for the new visas.

Whether bankers will actually find any jobs in Moscow is open to question, however. VTB Capital and Aton Capital have both been on a recent hiring spree, while Sberbank and Renaissance Capital have also been recruiting. But they've all taken on Russians rather than expats.

"Over the last six weeks we've started to see signs of banks actually expanding rather than simply making replacement hires," says Olga Selivanova, MD of headhunter Morgan Hunt's Russian office. "But I don't see any interest in hiring expatriates."

Selivanova says there was a need for western expertise two or three years ago as the Russian market became more sophisticated, but not any more.

It also doesn't help that doubts have been raised about the strength of Russia's financial system. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests that rather than attempting to spur lending, the government should instead look to protect the banking system from the threat of existing bad loans.

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