Global mobility is big business, with corporations seeking to extend their reach and employees wanting a rounded international resume. Increased global mobility as a business strategy can also help grow financial rewards, according to a study by the Harvard Business School ‘Strategic Global Mobility: Unlocking the Value of Cross-Border Assignments,’ even if many lack a coherent strategy.
But at the same time, mobility is becoming more complicated, with governments increasing the burdens on employers to fulfil ever more exacting criteria. So specialist global mobility companies matter.
Boxx Global Expat Solutions is the biggest independent global mobility firm in the Benelux. Founded in 2006, they have grown to prominence both as a provider of services and as a thought leader. We spoke to owner and CEO Dennis van Proosdij about his company and what he felt were the ingredients of their success.
So what is Boxx and how does it work to provide smooth and efficient global mobility services for companies?
Boxx is a privately-owned company, with only one owner who is also our CEO, and that is me. Our independence reflects our working philosophy, and it allows us to provide a unique offering. Our vision and concept are built on delivering and coordinating integrated mobility services on a global scale.
We offer services to multinational businesses, and the services range from the coordination of vendor support, immigration advice and compliance, HR advice and development of global mobility policies, tax consulting and compliance to payroll advice and compliance. We provide rounded expertise on all these matters and can fully streamline, coordinate and execute mobility management on a global scale.
We have a unique business model. The ‘Frame’ is our self-built international network of workforce mobility specialists, comprising over 300 partner companies in more than 80 countries. This working model allows us to combine a speed of service with in-depth local knowledge anywhere on the planet. It results in an unmatched quality of service against a competitive price.
To further enhance this chain, Boxx has four knowledge and management hubs in Achel (HQ in Belgium), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Hong Kong and Boston (US).
So to return to our core philosophy, what defines us is that we provide excellent services and pro-active solutions and ROI for clients.
Why has your business been so successful?
Put simply we filled a gap in the market. At one time, clients used traditional Big4 tax/accountancy firms for global mobility support. But during the last decade, multiple small specialised global mobility companies have been established and have taken over a significant part of the work that was dominated by the Big4.
This change is also seen in tender processes, in which we are now being invited to participate. Clients are looking for the same quality content Big4 firms can provide, but at a higher service level, wider scope and lower pricing.
Many existing mobility service operators also try and do too much. For example, immigration lawyers also provide tax advice, and relocation companies also provide support in residence permit applications.
Sometimes this works, but in most cases, the experience and knowledge to do this is lacking, which can create all kinds of additional challenges. What makes us different is the breadth of our expertise but also that the experts can concentrate on what they are best at. At Boxx, you will not see a tax lawyer busy with a visa application.
Who are your clients, and why do they come to you or need your services?
Our type of clients range from global multinational companies to smaller companies with a globally mobile workforce which can consist of international business visitors, short or long term assignees, local hires attracted from abroad and foreign executives and directors.
In the full range of services that we offer, we can assist our clients with the various types of challenges they face from a global mobility perspective.
What’s unique about your workplace culture?
We are very service-orientated, and the partnership model we work with is highly appreciated by our clients and even called distinctive compared to our competitors. Our client satisfaction scores and our promoter scores are the best in the field.
We also have an entrepreneurial culture in our firm. Because our firm is not structured as a typical consulting firm, and since we have just one owner who is also CEO, we have a very direct focus on doing business. Not having an elaborate board of (fee-earning) partners gives us an unprecedented edge in terms of speed, focus and culture.
As for employees, an unprecedentedly high percentage of our people come from multinational companies with an HR background, and who know the pains, challenges and practical problems our clients are facing on an everyday basis. And our knowledge and support do not stop at the HR department; we can also intermediate between HR and the business lines. Our account managers focus fully on their clients and are not required to handle other leadership roles.
Because our professionals can focus more on their clients, without the burden of internal management and internal politics, we see that they grow quicker than they would in other consulting firms. Clients also get more value from less expensive professionals. Isn’t that a great proposition?
What are your plans for the future? Do you see any difficulties ahead for your company?
Our ambition for the next four years is to be the number one thought leader in global mobility within the whole EU.
Our branding is the most important challenge ahead of us. More people need to know about Boxx, our services, our way of working and our people to be seen as the best provider and partner available for global mobility services.
With the launch of our new website and the introduction of Atlas, plus increasing the number of staff for each of our fields of expertise and further cooperation with our Frame network partners, we have a lot of opportunities to expand our service provision.
We will be seeking to grow our work with smaller companies, who nowadays multiple global mobility issues and fewer resources to manage them. We are also responding to the need for mobility services for short-time assignments, not just long-term relocations.
We are looking at updating our IT tools which should assist with client costs, and also differentiating our service and price levels to be able to meet our clients’ needs as we understand that not all clients desire the highest service level or the lowest price available.
We feel that as a company we are flexible enough to adapt to the changing world in which we find ourselves. I think that’s why clients like what we have to offer. So for us, the future looks very bright indeed.