After all the hard work getting that degree, the job market looms. On the one hand, it makes sense to get a job and get ahead. But on the other, you’ve just spent three years working. Surely you deserve to relax on a foreign beach for a while? Well, perhaps you don’t have to choose. Why not get a finance job abroad and do both?
It might not all be sarongs and sangria, but getting a job abroad can have all the CV benefits of going straight to work at home, with a little bit of travelling thrown in. There’s also the plus that in an increasingly international industry, having banked in Bologna or been an actuary in Auckland might be just the experience future employers want.
Recent findings show that graduates are increasingly seeking jobs abroad as the supply dries up in the UK, with around 70 applicants for every UK graduate job. Figures released by HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, show that 10% of graduates from the class of 2009 failed to find work last year.
So far, working abroad looks pretty sweet. But will your qualifications be recognised? Actually, yes, provided your degree is in something relevant for the industry such as business administration, economics, finance or mathematics.
Where should I go?
With a nothing but Google maps and the Home Office advice website to guide you, choosing where to go might seem a daunting task. So where are the best places to work in finance?
- New York – the US’ main financial centre, though there are also major banking districts in Chicago, Houston, Boston and San Francisco. NY is a great place for banking, but more competitive than Singapore or China.
- Hong Kong and Tokyo are Asia’s financial centers. Fast-paced and exciting, but certainly an adjustment from the norm and finding housing can be difficult compared to the UK.
- Europe is dominated by Frankfurt, Paris and Geneva, with big companies (like HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays) having branches and headquarters in Milan, Madrid and Zurich. Although commerce is thriving, the capital cities can be expensive to live in.
India, China, Brazil and Russia are going through a period of rapid economic growth which will have opportunities for graduates. However, language may be a tough barrier to overcome.
The potential career boost aside, there are lots of reasons to work abroad. One of the best is the diversity. Living and working in different parts of the world with different business ideas and cultural knowledge won’t just make you a better banker, it’ll make you a more interesting person too. You could get the chance to travel and get a good salary without taking a year out or big loans. Meanwhile, your CV will be packed with different locations and show off your pioneering spirit.
How to do it?
Before you pack your bags and book your flights, check out our top tips for finding work abroad.
- Be consistent and focused. Sounds very obvious, but having a goal in mind will help you decide the country, company and department you want.
- Consider work visas/permits. If you don’t have your visa or permits ready before you head off, you might have problems. Although the EU is open to anyone from the UK, check other country’s embassies or consulates. You’ll probably have to pay for these.
- Languages. Having some knowledge of the main language in the country you want to work in will be a big help.
- Get clued up about the culture. Did you know it’s highly disrespectful to blow your nose in public in Japan? Different laws, traditions and food are all things which you don’t want to be caught out on.
- Research. The best way is to see how other people live in the place you’re heading to. This will help you calculate costs, make friends, network and knowing someone there will make settling in easier.
Working offshore: Checklist
Before buying the plane ticket and donning the suit, it’s good to make sure everything else is in order for a career abroad.
Visas and work permits
- Students and graduates who are UK or EU citizens do not need a work permit or visa to work legally in any other country in the European Union.
- Check the relevant foreign embassy in the UK for specific information about visas and other legal requirements. Contact details for all foreign embassies based in the UK are available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). [This link needs to be typed out as it's a print piece, not web page.]
Health and insurance
- Some vaccinations need to be done in stages in advance, so check with your GP at least six weeks before you travel.
- The UK has reciprocal healthcare arrangements with most European countries, which means that UK citizens are entitled to free or reduced-cost medical treatment. You can apply online or pick up an application form at your local post office.
- Getting adequate travel insurance before you go is very important, so shop around for the best deal.
There are a number of financial matters to consider when working overseas.
- National insurance
- For detailed information about tax, national insurance and state pension matters,
contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Will your qualifications translate?
- Your qualifications might not be clearly understood by potential employers, who may not be familiar with the UK education system. It may be helpful to identify the approximate equivalent qualifications in the country and write ‘approximate equivalent to’ on your CV.
- Employers in other countries may place value on different factors compared with UK employers, so you will need to tailor your applications accordingly.
- Unless your employer is organising accommodation overseas on your behalf, you should look into housing opportunities and any property regulations which may affect you.
- Be extremely careful of handing over money in advance.
- Members of your family who are travelling with you may not necessarily have the same residency status as you.
- Partners may not be entitled to work in your chosen country just because you can.
- The regulations for children born overseas can vary considerably from country to country, so it is worth finding out your position in advance if this is relevant to you.