Relocating for your next Audit role: the why, how and where to (Europe edition)What are the benefits of moving for work, and where are some of the best places for audit professionals to thrive in Europe?
In the world of auditing, you’ll probably know of people that have relocated for their dream job. Perhaps you’ve even made a move yourself. At Apollo Solutions, a significant 25% of the audit candidates we place relocate for the role, usually within the EU, although movement from the EU to the UK and vice versa is picking up again post Brexit too. So, what are the benefits of moving for work, and where are some of the best places for audit professionals to thrive in Europe? In this article, we’ll reveal all you need to know.
The legal bits
Before packing your suitcase, make sure you’ve already got the relevant work permit. It’s worth knowing that if you’re looking to move from outside Europe, or sometimes within, you may need visa sponsorship and not every company will offer that.
Within the EU, remember there are some legislation changes following Brexit, so be sure to check them out for the country you’re looking to move to. You may wish to consider applying for a Blue Card (the EU’s equivalent of the US’s Green Card to help with socio-economic rights and a pathway towards citizenship).
Also post-Brexit, if you’re an EU citizen, you can still work in the UK but must hold the relevant visa if you don’t have Settled Status or Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Options for EU citizens working in the UK are:
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Scale Up Visa
- High Potential Individual Visa
- Global Talent Visa
- Frontier Worker Permit
Once you’re ready to go, whether for a move within your current country or abroad, there’s a lot to look forward to. Sure, it can be an intimidating prospect at first, but moving for a new, exciting role can also be incredibly rewarding.
And here’s why:
(1) Career advancement opportunities
Some industries will have many more opportunities for career advancement in different geographic locations to those where you’ve already gained experience. Let’s face it, if you really want to experience new teams, clients, and a host of new skills, relocating will provide the lot! Moving to a new city or country can be a great way to challenge yourself professionally and to take your career to the next level. 40% of people who’ve relocated say they did so for career advancement or more money. Don’t forget, it looks great on your CV too!
(2) Increased salary or benefits
Relocating for a job often comes with a higher salary or better benefits package. This can be especially attractive if the cost of living in your new location is lower than where you currently reside. Some companies offer relocation packages to cover some or all the expenses associated with moving. So, if you’ve got the travelling bug, moving for work can take away a lot of the hassle and costs of making a move on your own.
(3) More job security
In some cases, relocating for a job could offer increased job security. For example, if you're relocating for a job with a more stable company or in a growing industry, you may be less likely to face redundancies or company changes that result in job loss. Additionally, relocating can help diversify your professional network and broaden your opportunities, making you more resilient to future economic downturns.
(4) Personal growth and development
It’s not just your career that will benefit. If you want to learn new life skills, a new language, and gain lots of different experiences, moving to a new location can help. Enjoy new cultures, meet new people, try new hobbies you’re unable to do at home. Maybe a relocation could also present opportunities to learn about new industries and develop new skills or ways of thinking. A change of environment is also proven to be good for mental health.
(5) Adventure and excitement
Relocating for work is a great adventure! It's a chance to start afresh, explore new places, try new foods, and make new friends. For those with a sense of wanderlust or a desire for new experiences, relocating for a job can be an excellent opportunity to satisfy that curiosity.
Top locations for auditors
Where are the most attractive locations for people to progress their auditing career? Here’s our lowdown (in no particular order).
The Netherlands is a hive of innovation and a great choice if you’re an auditor looking to get ahead. The capital and financial hub of Amsterdam is a popular choice for audit professionals, not only because of the abundance of well-known multinational companies located there (headquarters of brands including Nike, Netflix, Cisco, Booking.com, Panasonic and Tesla), but because it provides easy access to the rest of the world via the international Schiphol airport.
Rotterdam is another favourite location. It’s undergone lots of recent regeneration and is great for non-financial services companies, boasting the largest port in the EU. While Amsterdam is perhaps the slightly better known town of the two, Rotterdam has lots of benefits over the capital of the Netherlands, such as being less touristy and more family-friendly.
With more than 90% of natives speaking English in the Netherlands, there are few barriers for English-speaking talent in this welcoming and inclusive culture. Plus, people living and working in the Netherlands enjoy a high standard of living, yet a relatively low cost of living when compared to other European cities.
Work/life balance is huge for employers here too. Laptops tend to stay shut after 6pm and employers understand that a well-rested workforce is a successful workforce.
But let’s not forget one of the biggest financial benefits of being based in the Netherlands: the 30% tax ruling. This reimbursement rule (also known as the 30% facility) provides skilled migrants relocating to the country for a specific employed role with a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% of their gross salary.
It’s no surprise then, that the Netherlands regularly features highly on the OECD Better Life Index. Whether you’re inspired by the tulip fields of Amsterdam, the many picturesque bike routes the country has to offer, or are attracted to the hustle, bustle, and culture of cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague, there’s plenty of opportunity for audit professionals.
Ireland, and specifically Dublin, is the location of choice for many of our audit candidates looking for a move – and it’s not all about the Guinness and Irish Whiskey! There’s an abundance of non-financial services companies in the city, as well as a huge tech presence. LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Airbnb, Indeed, Microsoft, and eBay all have offices there, leading to Dublin being coined ‘Silicon Docks.’
And let’s not overlook Dublin’s aviation trading too. Did you know that 50% of airlines use Dublin to lease planes due to lower costs? So, between tech and aviation alone, Ireland is host to a hive of business activity with lots of possibilities for expats.
Ireland’s also a gateway to the USA, with flights to New York taking just a little over seven hours. That makes the country attractive to American multinationals (and workers worldwide) looking to enjoy its low tax rates and a hospitable economic environment.
Combine this with one of the warmest welcomes globally, a rich culture and history, and the breath-taking country and coastal scenery that Ireland’s so famous for, it’s no wonder it’s a great place to live and work. Maybe it’s the luck of the Irish?
It’s not just the coffee and croissants that draw auditors to France - the country offers lots of career prospects too. Paris’ Financial District La Defense is the financial hub of France, although countless non-financial services companies are based there too. Paris is home to the largest number of expats in the country - you can thank its extensive public transport network, thriving nightlife, culinary delights, and world-famous cultural and arts hubs for its popularity.
Thriving industries in France include manufacturing, technology, tourism, agriculture, transport, and energy: in fact, it’s the largest producer of nuclear energy in the world. An impressive 68% of their electricity is nuclear generated, meaning engineering is on the rise too.
Top reasons to live and work in France include one of the highest minimum wages in Europe and one of the lowest retirement ages (62 years). Residents can also enjoy cheap public travel and a relaxed lifestyle. The country still observes shop closures on Sundays. And the culture encourages extended mealtimes and family time over long working hours.
An added bonus? France’s climate. If you’re based in France, you’ll enjoy up to 150 days of glorious Mediterranean sunshine a year. That’s plenty of outdoor time to make the most of the world-famous French wines, cheeses, and Champagne.
Despite having the best economy in Europe, Germany boasts some of the shortest working hours, meaning a great work/life balance for its citizens. It also offers generous salaries that are often way above market averages. Large companies (those with more than 10,000 employees) can pay a massive 29% above the country’s average salary of €56,985! It’s hardly surprising then, that Germany was cited as the eighth most-popular country to move to in HSBC’s 2019 Expat Explorer Survey.
Of course, Germany is another financial hub, and the biggest in Europe. Other leading industries include automotive and manufacturing. Germany’s a vast country with lots of choice when it comes to choosing a location. And although cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Munich offer endless opportunities for audit professionals, not all large industrial businesses are based in urban areas. That means that Germany could be an option if you’d prefer to be based in a more rural setting while still progressing your career.
Belgian waffle anyone? How about beer or chocolate? If that’s not enough to entice you, maybe the career prospects will. Belgium’s economy is thriving and it’s a popular choice for expats wanting a fresh start. According to Indeed, Belgium is facing a shortage of candidates with accountancy skills, so there’s availability of work and a degree of job security for auditors looking to relocate.
One of the most popular locations for our candidates is Brussels where employees are notoriously well looked after in terms of salary, benefits, work-life balance, and healthcare. Yes, taxes are higher than most other neighbouring countries, but with Belgium, the benefits of living and working there, balance things out. (And let’s not forget those waffles!).
Antwerp, Liege, Leuven, Gent, and Bruges are all popular expat destinations. But Brussels, home to countless international organisations including General Electric, IBM, Toyota, Microsoft, Pfizer and Levi Strauss, tops the list. The headquarters of the EU and NATO are also based in the city, meaning it’s also a hub for ambitious expats wanting to gain experience and further their careers. And did you know that after Dubai, Brussels is the second most cosmopolitan city in the world?
Remember, Belgium is another country using English as the main business language so it’s easy to communicate if your Dutch or French aren’t strong.
Want to work in one of the happiest countries in the world? Who wouldn’t?! That’s why Sweden should definitely be on your list of places to consider for furthering your career. Finland tops the list as the happiest nation, but neighbour Sweden (along with Denmark and Norway) scores well.
Famous for having strong automotive, financial services and manufacturing/production industries, Sweden also offers progressive social policies, good working conditions, a strong healthcare system, and relaxed immigration procedures. Pair those with one of the strongest job markets globally and it’s plain to see why Sweden is a popular choice of expats.
In terms of working policies, Sweden is known for providing a minimum of five weeks’ holiday for workers in any field each year. Sick leave and parental leave are generous too.
Sweden’s also popular because of exceptionally beautiful surroundings, good air quality and clean air policies. Sustainability’s high on the agenda for the government and workplaces alike so a great place to work and live if you’re keen to live a healthy lifestyle.
Another of the happiest countries to live and work in is Denmark. In fact, did you know it ranked in second place in the World Happiness Report 2022?
Of course, work is important to maintain a good standard of living, but nationals value the whole human being, where life is primarily focussed around family, friends, leisure, and private time.
Like to cycle to work? The capital of Copenhagen could be for you. Half of those living in the city commute on bike each day. And with international brands like Carlsberg, Danske Bank, DONG Energy and Lego having a strong presence in Denmark, there’s plenty of organisations to commute to.
Denmark’s also a key European distribution point, with top exports including iron, steel, food, textiles, clothing, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment. It’s a country with a rich economy which boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates at just 2.7%.
While Denmark’s a notoriously expensive place to live (high living costs and taxes), this is normally outweighed by its many benefits.
If it’s a good salary you’re looking for, why not consider Luxembourg? While the average salary in Europe is approx. 33,500 euros, wages in Luxembourg average 48,220 euros per annum. It’s a country with another big financial services hub, featuring as the eighth largest in the world, so a great option for auditors wanting to get ahead.
Luxembourg is nestled between Germany, France, and Belgium, perhaps explaining why an impressive 45% of the country’s workforce commute from nearby countries to support Luxembourg’s thriving banking and financial services sectors. And an impressive 35% of the country is covered with forests. You can take some time out with 900km of cycling tracks before returning to city life with the reassurance you’re in the safest country in the world.
Next on our list is Switzerland. Whether you’re drawn to the museums, churches and nightlife of Zurich, the beautiful lake and park in Geneva, or the medieval sights of Basel, there are plenty of attractions… not to mention some of the best milk chocolate in the world!
If that last fact alone hasn’t sold Switzerland for you, then let’s look closer at the economy. It’s another trading hub with financial services at its heart. In fact, Swiss banks, insurance companies and pension funds generate around 10% of the country’s revenue. There’s a hive of activity within sectors such as pharma, trading and consulting too.
It’s another European location with higher-than-average salaries and a great quality of life – especially if you’re the outdoorsy type. And it’s a fantastic place to improve your language skills. You’ll find speakers of English, German, Italian, and French to name just a few.
Let’s not forget the UK and its highly ambitious environment. There are endless opportunities for auditors to thrive in Britain. London, Manchester, and Cardiff have been listed as the top three UK cities for financial professionals. But Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Southampton all feature highly too. People working in the UK benefit from diverse cultures, affordable/free healthcare, and easy access to Europe.
But as if all of that wasn’t enough, London boasts the largest financial hub in Europe. It’s also home to countless leading multinationals and according to a 2018 study by Deloitte, out of 201 Fortune Global 500 businesses headquartered in Europe, 114 of those were in the UK, with 111 in London/the Southeast.
From an audit perspective, ISO in the UK’s financial services sector (and beyond) is especially attractive. The high levels of regulation in Britain for both financial and non-financial industries can make for particularly interesting roles for audit, risk, and compliance professionals. A range of traditional, large and regulated entities make for challenging but rewarding work.
And let’s not forget the tech advances taking place in Britain. The UK’s one of the biggest tech innovation hubs with lots of investment which makes it a really interesting destination for technology auditors working in emerging tech.
Although Brexit made moving to the UK a little more challenging, we’re starting to see a shift with companies once again sponsoring EU citizens to live and work in Great Britain.
Questions to ask before relocating
Tempted? With so many fantastic choices for furthering your audit career, why wouldn’t you be? Before you pack your bags though, here’s just a few extras you’ll need to thoroughly research.
(1) Cost of living & moving
As we’ve highlighted above, the cost of living can vary greatly between countries. Don’t forget to research the costs of renting/buying property, groceries, travel/commuting, insurances, etc. And make sure that your new salary is suitable.
It’s also important to understand how much it will cost to relocate. Not every business offers relocation packages, so getting there could come with a hefty bill before you’ve even started work. Remember to consider exactly where you’d like to live and look at the costs of commuting to your role.
(2) Tax and legal requirements
As mentioned above, different locations have different laws and legalities. Make sure you know all you need to know before setting off.
(3) Education, activities, & opportunities
Discussing a potential move with your loved ones and any dependants is a must. Don’t overlook the importance of involving everyone you’ll be moving with… as well as those you’ll leave behind. Are you a caregiver? Are you able to make alternative arrangements for anyone who won’t be travelling with you?
And if you’re hoping to take a (young) family along, don’t forget to check out local schools/colleges. Ensure your partner’s able to find work. Consider the happiness of everyone who’ll be travelling with you and ensure it’s a location in which you can all thrive.
Hobbies are also important – check out the local community and groups to ensure there’s something for everyone.
(4) Utilities & amenities
Ensure you’re aware of how to access, set up and pay for basics like electric, gas and water. Even Wi-Fi and a mobile plan are things we can take for granted at home.
Are there plenty of services nearby? Beyond everyday shops and supermarkets, you’ll need a GP, dentist, hairdresser. Also check out whether the country you’re considering has a healthcare system or whether you’ll need to pay for medical help or insurance.
If you hit problems with any of the above having made the move, who can you contact for support? You may wish to prepare a list of emergency contact numbers and ensure you understand how to solve problems specific to your country of residence. Gaining help once abroad can be as simple as connecting with your local community – are there other expats that can advise for instance?
Considering a relocation? Go for it! There are so many benefits, and it can open lots of opportunities. Of course, our list of locations isn’t exhaustive – they’re just some of the main places we operate in. Get in touch with us today to find out where the latest auditing roles are based and check out some of our latest opportunities.
And for hirers worldwide, remember we have access to some of the best global auditing talent. By going global with your search, we can widen your talent pool and help you better reach your hiring and diversity goals. Contact us.