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Old 21.01.2020, 16:35
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EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

Dear EnglishForum members,

I am a Nordic national that, for long, has been curious about life in Switzerland. If the brief research I have done is correct, as an EU national, residency permit should not be a problem if one is offered a job.

Now 25 years old and graduating, I am curious to my chances of landing a job in Switzerland a few years down the line, and how to best position myself to improve those chances - and would be extremely grateful for your input.

Half a year down the line, I will have a Master's degree in Corporate Finance, and start working in audit (big four firm if it matters). Will this generally be enough to transition directly into a controller/fp&a role at a Swiss company, or is a different route to recommend?

Is there anything else that can be done to maximize the chances of landing a job? In terms of languages, I am fluent in my Nordic native tongue, English, and have C1 level German.

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to address some of these concerns - it is very appreciated!

Best,
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Old 21.01.2020, 17:51
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Re: EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

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Half a year down the line, I will have a Master's degree in Corporate Finance, and start working in audit (big four firm if it matters). Will this generally be enough to transition directly into a controller/fp&a role at a Swiss company, or is a different route to recommend?
A few years experience in big 4 as an audit trainee is unlike to land you the controller's job in a company of any consequence any where in Europe, never mind Switzerland.

That said, if you complete your training with a big 4 and exit as a fully qualified professional accountant, you should be able to land a position in Switzerland - probably with the same big 4 if you are luck. And build on your experience from there, with a knowledge of the local business practices and legal structure. There after it should be possible to be in the running for the CFO job at some point.
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Old 21.01.2020, 19:14
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Re: EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

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A few years experience in big 4 as an audit trainee is unlike to land you the controller's job in a company of any consequence any where in Europe, never mind Switzerland.

That said, if you complete your training with a big 4 and exit as a fully qualified professional accountant, you should be able to land a position in Switzerland - probably with the same big 4 if you are luck. And build on your experience from there, with a knowledge of the local business practices and legal structure. There after it should be possible to be in the running for the CFO job at some point.
I can’t comment on Switzerland, but 10-15 years ago it was standard practice in the UK to start as a big 4 audit trainee, get qualified in 3 years and get a job in industry as a financial controller. No big 4 is going to take on a trainee and not expect them to qualify.
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Old 21.01.2020, 20:17
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Re: EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

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I can’t comment on Switzerland, but 10-15 years ago it was standard practice in the UK to start as a big 4 audit trainee, get qualified in 3 years and get a job in industry as a financial controller. No big 4 is going to take on a trainee and not expect them to qualify.
Well I did say significant and it is the same in the UK, because I am familiar with the UK market.

You are right that no big 4 takes on trainees expecting them to fail, but the pass rates are such that probably 20% will drop out for some reason or other in the early stages and somewhere between 40% - 60% will make the final cut first time.
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Old 22.01.2020, 11:33
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Re: EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

Major thanks to both of you for taking the time to reply!

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A few years experience in big 4 as an audit trainee is unlike to land you the controller's job in a company of any consequence any where in Europe, never mind Switzerland.

That said, if you complete your training with a big 4 and exit as a fully qualified professional accountant, you should be able to land a position in Switzerland - probably with the same big 4 if you are luck. And build on your experience from there, with a knowledge of the local business practices and legal structure. There after it should be possible to be in the running for the CFO job at some point.
I see - controlling seems like a common exit route here, but again, you did say companies of consequence - which may not be many around these parts .

What would your take be on aiming for a rotation in audit, vs. taking the controller exit here, and then applying for a controller role in CH a few years down the line? From a realism point of view, setting aside subjective factors like job satisfaction etc.

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I can’t comment on Switzerland, but 10-15 years ago it was standard practice in the UK to start as a big 4 audit trainee, get qualified in 3 years and get a job in industry as a financial controller. No big 4 is going to take on a trainee and not expect them to qualify.
Would you, too, say that a rotation is the best way of approaching this, rather than straight up applying for a job at a new firm, from abroad?

Thanks again!
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Old 22.01.2020, 13:14
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Re: EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

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Major thanks to both of you for taking the time to reply!



I see - controlling seems like a common exit route here, but again, you did say companies of consequence - which may not be many around these parts .

What would your take be on aiming for a rotation in audit, vs. taking the controller exit here, and then applying for a controller role in CH a few years down the line? From a realism point of view, setting aside subjective factors like job satisfaction etc.



Would you, too, say that a rotation is the best way of approaching this, rather than straight up applying for a job at a new firm, from abroad?

Thanks again!
If you are going down the corporate finance path, would moving to an in-house corporate development/M&A/strategy role not be a more natural fit? Edit: sorry I re-read your post and you will have a masters in CF, not that you will work in CF.

Regardless of that, thinking about my own company a bit more, for a controlling position, some work experience and the ability to drive a spreadsheet seem to be more important than a specific qualification. I think this is because the Swiss audit certification doesn’t seem to translate as well into a corporate controlling position, in the same way as I outlined the UK system working and there is no CIMA/CMA equivalent. I guess most Swiss people start out doing their degree in accounting/finance instead. So yes, actually with the language skills and big 4 experience, I do think you’ve got a chance, however more and more junior roles are being filled offshore.
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Old 22.01.2020, 14:59
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Re: EU national audit to fp&a or similar in Switzerland?

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What would your take be on aiming for a rotation in audit, vs. taking the controller exit here, and then applying for a controller role in CH a few years down the line? From a realism point of view, setting aside subjective factors like job satisfaction etc.
Well went I left college many moons ago I joined a big 4 and was assigned to audit. And I found to be as interesting as watching paint dry, so I exited at the earliest opportunity and moved to corporate finance, where I worked mainly on fraud investigations.... and from there to what 30 years ago was know as computer services, now more commonly referred to as consulting. So my move to Switzerland was from a big 4 to the corporate IT department of an MNC.

I would say the most likely path to follow would be to move for a big 4 to a big 4 in Switzerland or to the finance area of an MNC and take it from there. You can't really say what opportunities will present themselves to you along the way. For that matter you never know what opportunities you work at a big 4 in Norway present themselves, you many end up going in a totally different direction.
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