Going global after qualification

Mar 02, 2020
In the last issue, Sinead Smith discussed how the decision of whether to stay in practice or move externally can feel like an existential tug-of-war. But, what if you are considering another path entirely – a path which takes your professional career overseas? 

After spending the best part of four years learning your craft and feeling chained to the routines of work, study and exams, the lure of pastures new may be too strong to ignore. This is a path well worn by those who have gone before you and, today, with over 4,000 Irish ACAs working abroad, there is a wealth of support and guidance available to ascertain whether going global is the best decision for you and your career. 

Logistically speaking

Before the seed of travel takes full root and your mind becomes an endlessly enticing slideshow of tropical sunsets and bustling metropolises, it is important to consider the logistics of working overseas. 

In some cases, where you want to work may be largely influenced by where you can work. Chartered Accountants in Ireland benefit from mutual reciprocity agreements with many worldwide professional bodies. The respective Institutes of Australia and New Zealand, as well as Canada and the UK, consider your qualification to be on a par with their own, offering Institute members a seamless transition to those local markets. Working in the USA is also a reality, provided that Institute members meet specific entry criteria and pass the IQEX exam. 

Within Europe, the Institute’s compliance with the Common Content Project (CCP) provides qualified members with audit rights in other countries, subject to passing local taxation and legal exam. You may also be eligible for local membership rights, depending on the country. 

If your grá for travel draws you to other corners of the world, you will need to further research your eligibility to practice locally as an accountant and what hoops you may need to jump through in order to be compliant. 

Other pertinent logistic considerations include: 

  • Access to work visas – Will a company sponsor or support your application and, if not, how much time/money do you need to go through the appropriate channels directly?
  • Safety issues – Does the country or city you are considering have any extraordinary safety concerns? Is there a local Irish attaché should you need consular assistance? Is compound living the norm for expats?

Motivating factors

When the Irish economy was struggling, many young professionals found themselves lured overseas by the prospect of secure employment and higher salaries. Now, with Irish unemployment at its lowest rate ever, and multinational corporations clamouring to join our marketplace, it’s important – leaving aside just a simple desire for a change of scenery – to consider what is motivating you to look for employment abroad.

For instance, the market for newly qualified ACAs in 2020 Ireland is booming. There is a huge variety of career paths available to satisfy every professional preference and starting basic salaries are at the highest they have been since pre-recessionary times. Taking advantage of this prosperous and varied local market and establishing yourself as a newly qualified accountant may work out better in the longer term when it comes to progression, earning potential and networking.

Conversely, overseas experience can also prove invaluable when considering longer-term career development. Larger markets can offer accountants access to more complex capital markets and a diversity of experience that may be hard to find locally. Cultural differences in business can result in a deeper understanding of how to be an effective influencer and exact change and add value in even the most diverse of working environments. All these skills are of utmost value and will be looked favourably upon when re-entering the Irish market. 

Finding your tribe

In last year’s edition of Abroad, Irish Chartered Accountants around the world shared the realities of what it is like to move, live and work overseas. We learned that in Japan, business etiquette is much less flexible than in Europe; in Singapore, there are quotas for expat hires as companies are required to favour local candidates; and, in the US, there is less of a sense of urgency in business than one might expect. 

Each hotspot profiled offered up its own unique merits and challenges but, from Abu Dhabi to Ho Chi Minh and from Spain to Saudi, a shared importance was placed on networking. 

Whether for professional purposes or personal satisfaction, it is vital to make connections very early on. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, link up with a local Chartered Accountants Ireland district society or find a sports team nearby. Try not to limit your networking to other Irish expats but seize this as an opportunity to diversify your world view and your professional connections – you never know what might come of it!