Accountants abroad: What to expect when working overseas

Accountants abroad: What to expect when working overseas

It’s easy to spend a few months in a country when it’s just for leisure, but relocating for work is an entirely different situation. Before going overseas, you need to think about more than just digging up your passport. You need to consider your career and how working overseas can benefit your long term goals.

The list of exciting overseas opportunities is steadily expanding and accounting professionals are finding themselves in an increasingly favourable position. Moving to another country can provide opportunities that may enable your career path to success. The ‘big four’ accountancy firms – PwC, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG – are often on the hunt for willing accountants to staff their global offices.

It’s essential you know what to expect before embarking on your new international adventure. Here are some of the most valuable benefits of working overseas as an accountant.

You may have a better chance of landing your dream job

“There’s more scope for career progression and learning in a bigger, more internationally active employer,” says Dermot Magee, Audit Assistant in Luxembourg, who has worked overseas in finance on two separate occasions, once as an employee of one of the big four auditing firms.

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Accounting professionals who are willing to travel abroad may have a wider selection of job opportunities. When you resign yourself to staying in one country, you can sometimes limit your prospects. However, deciding to consider international options means you’ll have a wider range of different opportunities. 

“It opens up a lot more possibilities when you’re not tied to employers in your own neck-of-the-woods,” Dermot remarks.

Working overseas will boost your confidence

Working overseas comes with its fair share of challenges. Depending on where you travel to, you may find the language barrier difficult, the local culture a tough adjustment and you’re destined to feel homesick at some point. There may also be job-related issues, such as country-specific qualifications or visa requirements.

Though the journey will have its bumps along the way, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you conquer those barriers will make it worthwhile. This empowerment will serve you well throughout not just your accounting career, but your life.

You’ll build a broad network of contacts

During your time abroad you’ll meet like-minded, as well as influential people who will become part of your valuable network. The professionals you can form relationships with  may prove very helpful throughout your accounting career, as you learn from those around you.

A global list of contacts will appeal to many future potential employers and set you apart from other candidates. It’s not always all about who you know, but being connected to those within the industry can certainly come in handy.

You’ll stand out from the pack

Let’s face it, working overseas requires some guts! As rewarding as it is in the long run, it takes courage to relocate to a foreign place and assimilate to a new culture. It can be lonely being away from your family, friends and the familiar.

Your accounting work abroad will show employers that you’re adaptable and dynamic; a worldly employee with a strong work ethic who creates their own success, regardless of the obstacles. International experience is an opportunity not everyone will be fortunate enough to have, but one that will forever differentiate those who are willing to seize it. 

Dermot agrees. “International experience of any sort is useful when either looking for a role with an international employer, or in the job itself…being familiar with different cultures and different practices, or having experience dealing with different languages, laws and customs are useful.”   

Working overseas is an extraordinary experience

Settling into your new overseas accounting role is especially stimulating when you’re also exploring a new culture. Outside of the office you’ll be immersed with the culture of a foreign place – trying different foods, familiarising yourself with the people and the lifestyle, and learning more about yourself in the process. You will soon discover that accounting careers can take you further than you ever expected.

If your career needs a change, then consider the possibilities of working overseas as an accountant.

“Do it. Give it a shot,” encourages Dermot, “If there’s nothing holding you in your own country, then there’s nothing to lose from trying a year or a few years overseas. Do some research, but don’t let over-thinking put you off a great opportunity.”

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