What’s the UK accountancy job market like for Australian and New Zealand professionals?
Are you studying to be, or are you already, a chartered accountant living in Australia or New Zealand? Have you ever wondered how attractive your skills are in the UK and what kind of lifestyle you could enjoy? Would you constantly be scrimping and saving or can you really enjoy a great London lifestyle and travel around Europe seeing some of the world’s greatest places?
Well, the really good news is that it’s definitely more of the latter, and here’s why.
Encouragingly, accountancy professionals continue to be in high demand in the UK as many sectors grapple with ever increasing regulatory requirements and the practical planning many organisations are working through as they prepare for Brexit. The impact of Brexit is two fold on the accountancy world, as it not only means potential significant restructuring of vast P&L structures, but also the impact of organisations losing accountancy skills from the EU. For many years, EU accountants have taken advantage of the opportunity and salary benefits of easily working in the UK, both in temporary and permanent roles, but since Brexit was announced, the stream of such professionals entering the UK has already slowed. Not great news for UK organisations, but a great opportunity for Australian and New Zealand accountancy professionals.
What kind of salary and lifestyle can I expect?
Salary wise, clearly there are many dependencies; experience, qualification level, location, whether you’re going permanent or contracting, and the sector you’re working. However, as an example, a chartered accountant with 3-5 years experience can look to demand a salary of at least £45k in London, with some roles paying significantly more than that. Lifestyle wise that will allow you to enjoy renting in a great part of London, enjoy socialising with your friends and colleagues in the great bars, pubs and restaurants of the city, whilst also managing to save plenty of money to go travelling around the UK and Europe. Can that be true, I hear you say? Many Aussies and Kiwis are put off an overseas experience by hearing how expensive London and Europe is and, whilst the stats may say so, it’s often not recognised that salaries clearly reflect the cost of living, which makes it really good news for professionals in high demand roles, such as accountancy.
The financial situation looks even better when you consider taking a contracting role. Accountancy contracting has become increasingly popular in the UK, as employees struggle to create new permanent headcount positions, but they often find they do have the actual cash to be able to spend on contracting people, especially when they don’t bring all of the long term financial and risk commitment of a permanent employee. This is great news for accountancy professionals looking for some flexibility in their overseas experience, as they can look to demand anywhere from £250-£400 per day. Additionally, when you consider the significant tax benefit contracting can bring, contract accountants can look to earn and save significantly more than their permanent peers.
Still studying to be chartered? Even better!
A recent survey by Hays, one of the UK’s largest recruitment agencies, revealed that experienced accountants part way through their studies ranked as the 4th most in demand UK candidate in 2018 across all job roles and all sectors. The result is they can demand salaries very close to their qualified chartered professionals, as employees see the loyalty benefits of helping an employee through their qualifications. For many organisations, the investment in getting their people qualified brings huge return, particularly in being able to build and shape the experience of the professional around their own unique business challenges, structures and processes. Equally, the overall investment is still smaller than bringing in a more experienced employee, and by offering the ability to have funded qualifications they can also look to recruit the very best candidates on the market.
This represents a fantastic opportunity for Australian and New Zealand professionals who have only maybe recently completed their studies and are on the road to becoming chartered, but have always longed to consider an overseas experience. So far from being put off by not having completed your chartered qualifications, it seems like there’s no better time to continue your studies overseas whilst benefiting from a sizeable salary package. Equally, it’s also recognised that having UK and European experience on your CV brings significant benefit in the Australian and New Zealand job markets, so completing your studies in the UK not only provides the opportunity for an amazing overseas experience, but also significantly enhances your overall career opportunities if you decide to head home.
Ok, so what else is going to help me stand out?
The number one thing organisations are keen for their accounting functions to embrace is technology, and in particular specialist software. As more and more ‘back office’ functions such as finance, HR and procurement become dependant on software, it demands that the very best candidates can not only bring the right accountancy qualifications and experience, but also an increasingly deep knowledge in both how to use the software and how it can be fully implemented to benefit the accountancy function as a whole. Gone are the days of being a master in excel – any candidate looking to get ahead of the game needs to show their competence in tools such as Sage, Xero and Quickbooks, as well how they then work with other CRM and ERP tools an organisation may have. Again this provides a great opportunity for Australian and New Zealand professionals considering an overseas experience, as the decision making and planning of an OE can take anywhere between 6 and 18 months, which provides plenty of opportunity to get fully skilled in the very latest software to ensure you land with the absolute best CV you can.
This all sounds great, but surely there’s a catch?
Well, believe it or not, there really isn’t. Sure, like with any change in career, a job search can become more complicated than originally envisaged, or the company you start with doesn’t live up to their promise, or it takes longer than you expected. But that’s the same anywhere. The real point is that the opportunity for accountancy professionals from Australia and New Zealand who would like to consider an overseas experience has never been better. There’s plenty of opportunity, salaries are good so you can enjoy a really comfortable lifestyle, and it will undoubtedly enhance your CV and overall career progression. Here at MyOE we’ve helped hundreds of accountancy professionals to get set up in the UK, and to go on a have a truly memorable overseas experience. In fact, keep it quiet, but many of them have never left!
You don’t have to just take our word for it
Adam arrived here in the UK from Brisbane in April 2017 and as a graduate Accountant in training he was very happy to find work straight away in London.
He told us “Working in the accountancy field in the UK has been an amazing opportunity to enhance both my professional life and my social life. I have really enjoyed the work I’ve been doing, and it has meant that I’ve been able to expand my skills and resume, making me much more employable in both the UK & the Australian market. My decision to come to the UK to work has also allowed me to have the incredible opportunity to travel Europe and network with so many like-minded professionals. Making the move really has been the best decision I’ve ever made!”