Guest comment: Relocation, relocation, relocation

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Australian accountants are sought after the world over, says Kevin Moultrie, regional associate director at Think Global Recruitment.

A global shortage of accountants means it's increasingly easy for Australia's accountancy professionals to find work wherever they fancy.

Accountants have the advantage that most roles within the industry are easily transportable. Audit procedures are similar around the world, so experience dealing with international financial reporting standards (IFRS) can be particularly beneficial when working in European cities such as London, Amsterdam, Dublin or Paris. Getting a job in New York or Chicago has also become easier with the recent creation of 10,500 E-3 visas for Australians.

Less transportable are positions in tax legislation. However, countries such as Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand have similar tax regimes and finding a position is more achievable if you're prepared to do a bit of study to bring you up to speed on local laws.

So what are the benefits of spending time abroad? In one sense they're financial - global banks are typically willing to offer lavish inducements to attract staff to new overseas offices. In the Gulf, for example, packages can include a tax-free salary, generous holidays, flight allowances, company car and accommodation.

There are also lifestyle advantages. We recently assisted a young Victorian woman to move to Qatar where she's gaining excellent experience in international tax structuring. If she chooses, can spend her weekends camping in the desert or lying on the beach.

And there are career upsides - most future employers will consider you flexible and adaptable to working in new environments if you've had overseas experience. The Big Four accountancy firms are increasingly looking for overseas experience when promoting people to partner level.

However, relocation brings many challenges as well. Missing friends and family is often the biggest issue, but there's also a tendency to approach an overseas posting with unrealistic visions of its charms. Take Bermuda, for example: you're less likely to get broad industry experience as key areas of specialisation tend to be in areas such as insurance or re-insurance. Some candidates get carried away with visions of living in a tropical paradise without fully considering what it means to both their career and their lifestyle.

But if you're prepared to be realistic, then for a qualified accountant the world really is your oyster and you have the opportunity to grow your career in any region that interests you - it's a unique position to be in and one we're seeing increasing numbers of people taking advantage of.

· Australian accountants and finance professionals considering a move overseas can attend the inaugural Accountancy Worldwide International Forum to be held in Sydney in September. Visit www.accountancyworldwide.com for more details.

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