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Old 14.08.2015, 11:40
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Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Hi all


As some of you may have read in my introduction post, I mentioned that I had managed to do a lot in a very short space of time. I'd like to elaborate on that now and maybe get a few thoughts on how employers tend to take a view of it.


To recap and expand, I am currently only a year into doing the ACA qualification (3 year training contract), but at the rate that I am managing to currently progress, I'll just be waiting for my training contract to time out rather than the reverse of many and struggling for deadline day.


At a year in, I have completed 13 of the 15 exams (only corporate reporting and the case study left), with 324 of the 450 relevant detailed experience days already signed off (so far averaging 24.9 a month). By my forecasting I'll have all of that completed by July next year, all going well and no fails. So I'll just be waiting for the last year and a half or so for the contract to time out.


For a little background of the work I do, I work within a small accountancy practice in central London, I have my own portfolio of clients, and currently basically take control of everything from bookkeeping, VAT, monthly & quarterly management accounts, investment analysis and the year end financial statements and accounts. The clients range in type from associations and trade bodies, communications and PR through to a few venture capital funds (and all associated companies/partnerships) as well as by size (8 running circa £5m revenue per annum, plus 3 venture capital funds), as well as dropping in and helping on others clients when needed.


So down to my question, I'm planning on moving to Switzerland in 2 or 3 years time, basically just after my training contract is finished. Taking into account the above, how will employers view a newly qualified ACA accountant. I do love what I do, although I would be hugely open to getting into the investments world (I have a massive interest). Initially I wanted to move toward Geneva, but I'm seeing that Zurich may be a better option for the line of work, and would be happy with either.


I'm hoping for some personal knowledge, because I have researched this and it generally comes up quite blank, although I have seen answers ranging from 'yes, you'll have no problems' right the way through to ' not a chance, without post-qual exp you may as well give up now'. Which isn't really very helpful.


Thank you all for any help/advice, it really is very much appreciated. And I do apologise for the long posts.
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Old 14.08.2015, 12:01
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Key to evaluating your chances: what languages do you speak?
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Old 14.08.2015, 12:08
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

With any kind of fluency, currently only English. Though I am starting German tuition in the next few weeks (my grandfather was fluent and taught me some when I was young, but I'm afraid the memory of it evades me), ramping up the intensity as time goes on. With the best part of 2 years to study it I am hoping to be fairly adept.

I would like to take up French following German, so I'm more than willing to put all the effort possible into learning.
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Old 14.08.2015, 12:11
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

You´ll be one of many here (with accounting qualifications) so make sure that you have your language skills up to speed depending on which part of Switzerland you want to live.

Easiest would be to start working for an international company now and get a contract with one of their branches in Switzerland later on. Rather then competing then with thousands of others qualified accountants who are already here.
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Old 14.08.2015, 12:26
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Once you got the language sussed this will be a big help in studing the tax laws in Switzelrand, which are partially federal but also partly cantonal, (we have 24 main cantons and 2 half cantons) all of which are subtly different.
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Old 14.08.2015, 16:35
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Methinks it's time to consult the Effers crystal ball.
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Old 14.08.2015, 20:05
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

What do you see within the crystal ball?

Thank you for the replies, I can't see how to thank people (not enough posts maybe?) so I'm afraid that will have to do for now.

Languages and the individual taxation laws are going to be one of the biggest steps, I see that. And quite rightly said, it would probably be easier to join a large international and look for a transfer. Though this isn't ruled out, it would add to my current thoughts on time frame.

I suppose what I'm wondering is do the employers within Switzerland take into consideration the past achievements, or more specifically the speed or momentum of the situation at which they are gained. I know that references are very important,and that shouldn't be a problem. But will it purely be looked upon as a qualification, or the background of the gaining of said qualifications. I suppose like anything, it depends upon whose desk it happens to land on at the given time?

Once again, I would like to thank all replies though, I'm trying to soak up everything that is said, and I do intend to heed any advice or warning.
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Old 14.08.2015, 20:18
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Just bear in mind that the Swiss voted to curb immigration from the EU last year and the government has to implement some sort of restrictions by 2017, what they'll be we don't know yet.

Also think about what may happen if the UK decides to opt out of the EU, that will affect the current relationship it has with Switzerland regarding the free movement of UK nationals.

You may have more problems to deal with than just language proficiency and different taxation laws by the time you graduate.
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Old 15.08.2015, 11:48
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

The ACA is a great qualification, but it is a British one. As such it doesn't have widespread recognition here.

What do you want to do in Switzerland? As a NQ accountant in the UK, there are 3 typical paths:
Carry on working in practice doing audit/advisory/tax either where you trained or elsewhere
Move to an in-house accounting role
Move to a front office banking (equity research, M&A, buy side) role

Looking at each of these in turn for Switzerland
Practice: Your ACA isn't going to allow you to perform audits. You need a Swiss qualification for that. No doubt you could assist, but what's the point of getting qualified to become an audit junior again? A Swiss practice is going to have Swiss clients. You will need to speak the local lingo and if in Zurich preferably Swiss German. The big 4 might take a look at you, but having just had a quick look at Deloitte's current hiring all the job adverts are in German.

Front Office: M&A is really small here and local knowledge is sought. I don't think ACA will help get a foot in the door. Equity Research tends to be locally focussed as the big players have their coverage of multinationals out of London and New York. Local means local language and not conversational - there's a big difference between being socially fluent and keeping up with earnings calls and digesting annual reports quickly and with nuance. Buyside is different. There are plenty of funds here. Again though, I'm not sure how much ACA will help. Experience and network are key. Also qualification wise CFA is king (and to a lesser extent the local equivalent AZEK).

In-house: I left this to last, because realistically it's your best option. There are plenty of international companies here with Brits (+ former colonies who know what ACA is) working in senior finance positions. I can only speak for banking, but the jobs that come up at your level tend to be more on the business partnering/management information/planning and analysis side. Junior financial accounting roles are much more likely to be offshore now. Banks can be very snobby though about past experience - a CV from someone who has only worked in practice for a small company outside of Switzerland is unlikely to make it through the HR filter for one of the roles above. I can't speak about other industries.

Sorry to paint quite a pessimistic picture, but that is the reality of the situation. Others have covered the language situation and I agree completely.

My advice would be as others have said - make your first move to a company in the UK and look to move internally later. Alternatively, get more post qualified experience within industry (or on the buyside if that's the direction you want to go in) and look to move company and country at a more senior level. Finally, network, network, network. You might just find the right person at the right time that you can convince to give you a shot.
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Old 18.08.2015, 13:13
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Medea Fleecestealer -
Thank you, I was aware that there were going to be changes coming within the next few years or so. Admittedly, I haven't looked into this quite as much as I should, but I was under the impression that even though there had been a vote to curb immigration, that the political aspect was still in ways fairly solid. And that the measures taken wouldn't become drastic?
I may very well be wrong in that, and if anyone does have any information (whenever it happens to be released) I would be more than grateful for any links or info. Although I'm sure that it may well be posted on the forum here somewhere.

eyebeebe -
That does help in more ways than you may know, I appreciate the time it took to write and thank you.

The in house roles would fall much more in line with the kind of work I do currently (reporting, reconciliations etc.), although I have been anchoring to get into Fund management/analysis, and I agree completely that for these kind of roles CFA does come out on top. Which is actually another qual. that I'm planning on doing in my down time for the end of the training contract (as well as languages). I know a fair amount about the fund world, and find it very interesting.

Networking wise, here I am running into a few stumbling blocks, as I said I do deal with a few funds directly (practically running finance) and I do know a lot of fund managers having networked through work. The blocks come where they tend to mainly deal with UK/USA, admittedly a few of them do deal with players in Switzerland as far as I know, but making that branch out is fairly difficult.

You say you painted a pessimistic picture? I just say thank you to be honest, I'd rather people give the total truth, at any point in life, no matter how brutal. At least you know where you stand and you can come up with en edge to fight for the position/stance that you want.

Again I'd like to thank everyone, although there is still no like button anywhere. I'm trying to take all answers on board, at least that way I can have an informed opinion, rather than any kind of biased view.

All the best
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Old 18.08.2015, 17:17
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Well, it could be quite serious.

"The move by the Swiss People’s Party - known for its anti-foreigner and anti-EU agenda - will see the reintroduction of quotas, as well as a national preference when filling job vacancies and restrictions of immigrants’ rights to social benefits.

Critically, it also stipulates that Switzerland will have to renegotiate its bilateral accord with the EU on the free movement of people within three years or revoke it. This in turn could threaten other bilateral agreements with the EU."

"When it comes to quotas, the government said it would set to work "without delay". The cabinet and parliament also has three years to introduce the restrictions.

The initiative calls for quotas to apply to all foreign nationals, including cross-border commuters and asylum seekers. Businesses must also give Swiss nationals priority when hiring staff. The finer details still needed to be worked out, the government said."

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/quotas-a...-deal/37877780

So quotas could be introduced for EU nationals, even though this is against the EU's Free Movement Agreement - and the numbers could include someone's dependents which isn't the case at the moment. Or if no agreement can be reached with the EU the Swiss may just drop the Free Movement Agreement altogether and apply the same criteria as they do for giving permits to non-EU nationals, i.e. employers must do their best to find a Swiss person who could do the job before they'd be allowed to hire an EU/non-EU national.

A bill has been put forward for discussion, etc, which if passed will come into effect in February 2017.

http://www.thelocal.ch/20150211/fede...migrant-quotas

Still a lot of discussion, possible further referendums, etc, are all in the mix, but it's worth keeping an eye on as there's only around 18 months to go before something has to happen.

This is the downside of Switzerland's direct democracy. Because the people voted for it in a referendum the government is bound to act on it - and because it specifically stated they had to modify the Free Movement Agreement or revoke it that is what the government has to do regardless of how many other problems it may cause with Switzerland's relationship with the EU. The Swiss people have spoken and the government cannot ignore it.
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Old 18.08.2015, 17:54
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Parliamentary elections in September will give a good indication of where this is going.
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Old 18.08.2015, 18:34
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

Do you think they'll make much difference given the referendum's already been held? Guess they could propose another one in hopes of getting the vote changed - but also risks a bigger "yes" to curb immigration given the problems all European countries are having with migrants at the moment.
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Old 19.08.2015, 14:06
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Re: Attitudes of employers opinions? Finance and Accountancy

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Do you think they'll make much difference given the referendum's already been held?
Yes, given that the details of how the text must be implemented is still to be negotiated. A new negotiator has just been named - http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomac...talks/41599532 - he is not to SVP liking - http://www.blick.ch/news/politik/chr...id4069114.html

Another referendum is an option, the text of which would likely be influenced by talks with the EU.
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