Expats Financial Affairs: an inclusive event

Travelling and settling down in a new country often takes a lot of effort and resources. One spends quite some time understanding the new culture, mastering the language and trying to fit in, while also trying to understand how to take care of more immediate and practical issues, such as legal and financial key questions. These last tasks, in particular, may require time and research to be completed and may often seem difficult to execute and finalize. Information and data are scattered and divided between different experts, offices and fields of expertise and it may require a lot of time to gather all the details needed. It may also be difficult to properly access to information and have a stimulating and complete one-to-one conversation.

“That is exactly the point of the Expat Financial Affairs”, confirmed the chief executive of the British Chamber of Commerce Glenn Vaughan, “we noticed that the same questions kept coming up on topics like pensions and taxes from the staff of our member companies. And we realised that we had the answers to those same questions from other members, so we decided to seize the opportunity”.

That is how the Expats Financial Affairs started, with its first edition in 2014: the organizers (the British Chamber of Commerce, BNP Paribas Fortis and the Fry Group) perceived immediately the importance of offering a complete and exhaustive set of information to the expats in Belgium with an expats perspective. The people at the event are all expats who already went through the process of settling down and dealing with the Belgian financial procedures. Therefore, they can offer the most precise, direct and practical solutions to those who are planning their life in Belgium.

Salvatore Orlando and Glenn Vaughan at the Expats Financial Affairs

Salvatore Orlando, Head of Expatriates at BNP Paribas Fortis, noted that “The added value of the event is its original concept and its multifaceted approach: at the same time, it offers a fair, a networking platform and practical workshops. It gives a unique and direct connection with stakeholders, partners and companies, who can engage in a one-to-one conversation and satisfy all the curiosities, doubts or questions of the visitors”.

In fact, the access granted to the expertise is unique and innovative: the different experts are gathered in one place and at the same time, which makes research and confrontation easier and faster. It also presents practical solutions in a concrete and articulated context, offering a 360 degrees approach to the different dimensions of the topic.

The event is at its fourth edition and has developed quickly in the last years, slowly becoming a “must” event. It gathered more and more business partners -present at the event with stands- and it spread also outside of Brussels, as for example in Ghent. The Expats Financial Affairs pays a great attention to the past editions and to the feedbacks gathered in those occasions: it has, in fact, improved and developed greatly two workshops, accommodating the topics to the curiosity and questions of the public, and making them more dynamic and modern. For instance, the workshop on start-ups has been oriented more towards creating one’s personal and innovative start-up, while the workshop on real estate in Belgium now focuses more on how to find the capital to invest in property.

The event is not just a good occasion for collecting some useful information on taxes and pensions, but it is also a nice opportunity to meet with other expats, enhancing one’s connections. It is a welcoming, inclusive and open platform through which expats can help each other, understanding the new society they live in and finding their own space in it.