A survey we came across at the end of last year had questioned 200 UK-based accountants and revealed that 77% of them want to flit abroad in order to ‘further their careers’. As we now enter another British winter then these kind of opportunities become more and more appealing, will nearly three quarters of accountants apparently thinking the same (North America & Western Europe being the two popular destinations). An accountant’s likf is apparently not all about numbers on a piece of paper or computer screen, but the wider life experience.
Delving deeper, three top reasons for this were identified. The first is all to do with the economy and job prospects, with an expectation of greater opportunities and stability abroad rather than here in the UK at this time.
Secondly, the cost of living would expected to be be lower abroad, particularly when compared against the south-east and London costs I suspect, and the perception that they will get more for their money in foreign quarters.
The third reason is an obvious one, a warmer and more pleasant environment in other countries, with greater possibilities for recreation, social, and family times outside work – actually an important factor that can have a positive re-energised and focused perspective and productivity with work. What is linked with this as well is an accountant’s value of immediate and extended family, including the role of grandparents, and how this does play an important part in any decision to move to another culture. There will be varying degrees of risk perceived with these various options, and being able to ‘chance’ things working out.
Practically, accountancy is actually a good career to offer this flexibility of working abroad. Obviously there will be the issues of different accounting legislation and procedures in different countries, but subject to this being learnt there are opportunities to easily transfer these skills.
On one extreme you can be an employee of a large international accountancy firm who can easily offer opportunities in one of their other international offices. On the other extreme you can be a sole trader doing accountancy and book keeping still for UK-based clients, and by using all the technology of the internet and cloud-based software systems you can still do this while located in hotter climates abroad.
Even communication can be easy with free phone and video calls, and shared workload documents. There can also be the opportunity to work with other businesses to help with practical things back in the UK, whether it’s virtual office space and secretarial services, another accountant, or business-development contact to develop existing and new client relationships.