The UK capital will always present a draw for accountancy professionals. Still recognised as Europe’s premier financial services hub, a status unlikely to dwindle even in the face of Brexit, the market for jobs is likely to remain buoyant, with banks and businesses continuing to retain the bulk of their operations in London.
Big Four firm PwC has asserted its intention to move a portion of its function and roles out to regional locales in line with income-poor graduates shying away from costly London life, however the need for auditors in the capital will remain strong.
With much regulation in the banking and broader financial services sector, there will always be a compelling need for professionals in risk and audit. Canary Wharf is typically the home to most of the banks and financial services firms, while Central London houses more of the professional services, Big Four and consulting firms, and greater London homes much of the big Pharma organisations and manufacturers.
European companies are still recruiting UK accountants and we have seen a big increase in recruitment within certain European cities, including Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris for European and British candidates. British candidates don’t appear to have slowed down with their applications to European companies this year – statistics remain similar to previous years.
Banks including Barclays, HSBC and Deutsche Bank have all seen the benefit in relocating their audit and risk functions out to Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt to get around the blurred parameters of Brexit. As the implications of the political discussions around Article 19 continue, it stands to reason that other financial enterprises will follow suit. Dublin and Amsterdam are particularly attractive locations for audit professionals looking to capitalise on their technical skillsets within an English-speaking locale.
With no language barriers and a friendly approach to foreign candidates, Singapore offers a good route into South East Asia. That said, it’s important to note the government’s continued drive to recruit local talent and the subsequent visa requirements. There is a strong market for industry and commerce in Singapore and significantly for financial services as the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) is aiming to create 3,000 jobs in the finance market and an additional 1,000 jobs in FinTech annually. As the country further adopts advancements in technology to improve efficiency across the financial sector, candidates hoping to fill audit jobs in Singapore should upskill to keep pace with evolving digitalisation and automation.
Be aware that the cost of living is high but income tax is low. Whilst travel around Singapore and the surrounds is cheap, entertainment such as eating out is pricey. However for those seeking to combine work with travelling, it’s easy to get away for weekends to Thailand and Malaysia. Also be prepared for the humidity all year round – my advice when wearing suits to business meetings.
New York is the home of the financial services sector, specifically in downtown Manhattan as well as in the more suburban, New Jersey and Connecticut. While financial audits have their home in NYC, those candidates wishing to pursue audit jobs with start-up firms and those interested in working in technology should direct their search to San Francisco. There are typically more roles for senior auditors in San Francisco while New York offers a more widespread professional reach for auditors at all levels.
For government audit jobs, Washington DC is of course the prime location. These cities tend to act as career anchors for those working in audit in the US with individuals conducting audits in one place in accordance with where their clients are generally based. Meanwhile, cities like Houston and Chicago will see auditors undergo a fair amount of travel due to the nature of the audits they’d be conducting. Houston is a lucrative locale for oil and gas audit, not least due to its strict regulatory environment, which has been a feature since the infamous Enron scandal of 2001.
In the Trump era certain countries now find it easier to get visas than others. Australians for example now find it much easier to get into the US and obtain a work visa than British candidates due to recent renegotiated trade agreements. The easiest way to get a work visa for the US is to be sponsored by a US company or relocate within a company with US offices.
The world’s second largest economy, China is a huge market for those seeking jobs in accountancy. A number of manufacturing plants and businesses, like pharma giant AstraZeneca, have their bases in China as a more cost-effective option for their operation. With an emphasis on fixed asset investment, auditors are in high demand to monitor and mitigate risk, fraud and any potential inefficiencies that come with managing a big workforce. In larger cities traffic congestion and pollution is a big issue so if you are seeking a green, clean living you may want to consider where in China you head. Candidates looking for audit jobs in China will need to be bilingual in Mandarin and English, although for larger/Western companies based out in China spoken and written English only may be acceptable.
Simon Wright is managing director for global job board CareersinAudit.com