Some Tips for Breaking into International Accounting

Working in a foreign country can be a great way to expand your personal and professional horizons. Here is some advice to help you find an accounting job abroad.

Is your accounting career in a rut? Are you tired of reporting to the same office every single day?

Maybe you just haven’t been proactive enough about advancing your accounting career. Maybe you need to consider leaving your current accounting gig for another one. Or perhaps you’re in need of an even more dramatic change of scenery. Maybe you need to take a trip somewhere exotic, to learn a set of fresh skills, to sample a new culture and language.

International accounting holds obvious appeal for many people in the accounting and finance industry – especially those whose personal lives and circumstances allow for travel or time abroad. If you’re looking to take your accounting career to the next level and are itching at the prospect of international accounting, consider the following tips to help you to go places – literally.

Work for a multinational company

If your sights are set on international accounting positions, your best bet is to find a job at the local branch of a multinational organization – one that has offices and does business all across the globe. Working for a company with international reach will give you preliminary exposure to the way business is done in other countries and cultures. Plus, it will offer some insight into different reporting standards, even if only at a distance.

Working for a company with international reach will give you preliminary exposure to the way business is done in other countries and cultures.

Work for organizations that have an international rotation program 

Multinational companies often have international rotation programs. Most will make a point of alternating staff through different national branches in order to expose them to different geographies.

Accepting an assignment abroad will give you a taste of what it’s like to work as an accounting and finance professional in a foreign environment. Regardless of how short your stint is, it will help you to become a culturally savvier and worldlier individual, and force you to learn how to interact with professionals with different backgrounds and nationalities – expectations about socializing with employees, the nuances of office politics, and so on. 

Go to school internationally 

If international accounting positions appeal to you, consider investing in an international MBA, or a school program that offers some form of foreign study program. The contacts you make in school will prove invaluable when you’re trying to snag an international accounting position (though you will want to carefully consider whether earning an MBA makes sense for your desired career path). 

Look for where legislation is driving demand for specific accounting skillsets, and apply to the available accounting positions accordingly. 

Look for countries where your skill-set is in demand

When Canada implemented the IFRS standards, there was a huge spike in demand for accountants from the UK, since they were already intimately familiar with IFRS. There’s a lesson to be learned there. By following the news and staying on top of industry trends, you can track major changes in legislation and reporting standards in other countries. It may just happen that your particular knowledge or skillset is suddenly in demand in a particular part of the globe. Look for where legislation is driving demand for specific accounting skillsets, and apply to the available accounting positions accordingly.

When we talked to Jim Caltabiano, MBA/CFO, he sung the praises of working abroad, pointing out that it had done wonders for his own incredibly successful accounting career. “If you have the chance to work in a different country, you should take it,” he urged.

If you’re adventurous enough to work in a foreign land and aren’t bound to your home soil by familial or other personal responsibilities, international accounting is an exciting option that you will want to consider. Promising to deliver diverse contacts and fresh skills, it’s an opportunity that can open up entire new vistas for you, both personally and professionally.

Have you ever considered or accepted an international assignment? How has working abroad helped your career? What are the challenges and possibilities people face while working in another country? Share your thoughts in the comments!

New Finance Manager's Guide

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!