According to the World Economic Forum, the Netherlands comes top for the best place to live for expat families.
It’s really no surprise in a country with a great economy, great childcare, great healthcare, great education system, excellent English and a life revolving around biking.
He started his career in the Netherlands in 2018 with KPMG, Amsterdam in the Digital Assurance and Innovation (DANI) team.
Here we go.
My CA Journey from an Average Student to a Chartered Accountant.
I was born and bought up in Lucknow (India). In school, I was a very average student, although good with mathematics. After completing class 12 exams, I had no clear vision about my career.
All of my friends were moving to Delhi to pursue graduation from Delhi University [B.COM (Hons)], and I decided to follow the crowd (as usual).
The turning point in my life came when all my friends managed to get admission into reputed colleges and I was the only one left with few options.
It made me realize that I needed to show more focus and dedication in order to be successful in life.
Around the same time, my roommate came with the examination form for CA Exams from ICAI, India. That’s when I decided to give Chartered Accountancy a try!
Until now I had no vision nor certainty about my future and career development but after enrolling for CA, I became a more focused person, setting up the right priorities.
I completed my articleship from a mid-sized firm in Lucknow (India), primarily with the experience in Audit (Statutory and Tax) and also computation of taxable income and filing of statutory dues with the authorities.
Even though I had always been a very average student, I managed to clear all the CA examinations in a go.
This is my CA journey from a very average student to a Chartered Accountant.
Applying for the first job– Opportunity With EY, India
After clearing the CA Final exams in the first attempt, I was optimistic that I would bag my dream job. But it just turned out to be a dream, the reality was different.
I did not get any call from the campus placement, although all other of my friends/colleagues, even though not first attempters, got various calls for interviews.
That is when I realized the unnecessary hype regarding the number of attempts in the CA industry. In reality, what matters is your personality and confidence.
The number of attempts DO NOT MATTER- coming from a Chartered accountant who has cleared all the levels in the first attempt.
Initially, I was perplexed what was it that I was doing wrong that I was got getting a single call for a job.
But after almost 2 months of job hunting, I got an opportunity to work at EY, Gurgaon (India) for their shared service centre (offshore practice).
I decided to follow my gut and grabbed the opportunity.
Initially while working EY, Gurgaon (this is in the northern part of India) I was part of the statutory audit department, performing routine audit work.
Within the first 6 months, I got to know that EY is opening a new center in Chennai (Southern part of India) and it offered all its current employees the chance to move to Chennai.
This new center was planned to start with some existing business modules from Gurgaon and also to further work on to embrace the digital era.
I saw this as a great opportunity for myself to grow by improving my management skills (since I would be considered an experienced professional in a new environment) and at the same time learning new and interesting digital auditing techniques.
For sure working in the offshore practice involved a lot of objective work (simple reconciliation tasks) to do, but there was always scope for subjective things (substantive audit, data analytics) as well. A little extra effort is required.
Around the same time, I realized the importance of data analytics in audit and its dependency in the future.
Also during my 2-year stint with EY India, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to work with EY Sweden for 6 months.
It was my first experience abroad, both personally and professionally so it was really special. The experience was enriching, getting to know different cultures and working styles.
It was during this time that I was convinced and motivated to move to a European country.
I started focusing more on gaining knowledge and experience by interacting with professionals across the world and also working on multiple complex assignments.
Moving to the Netherlands
Once my rotation at EY Sweden ended and I was back in India, I actively started searching for opportunities abroad especially in Europe.
It was not easy but soon I got a call from KPMG Netherlands and I was fortunate to clear all the interviews.
Since the profile I had applied for was related to data analytics and I had prior experience in a similar profile, my experience came in handy.
Now I am happily working in the Netherlands primarily helping auditors use data analytical capabilities in their audit.
How Did I Apply to KPMG Netherlands from My Home Country
I did not plan on working in the Netherlands. In fact, after working in Sweden for 6 months, I just wanted to move to any good city in Europe.
Soon after completing my rotation with EY Sweden, I was actively looking for abroad job options online, especially on LinkedIn.
Initially, I applied in multiple openings haphazardly but soon realized that this would not work. I rectified this mistake and started looking for profiles which met my best skill sets and experience.
Simultaneously, I was also pursuing ACCA (UK). Since I am a CA from ICAI, I could avail exemptions and had to write only 5 exams. I appeared for two papers and cleared them, scoring all India rank 1 (Worldwide rank 3) in Business analysis. This further boosted my morale.
During my search, I came to the online portal for KPMG in the Netherlands and saw a profile where the job description perfectively defined my skill sets and experience, therefore, I optimistically applied.
Exact Interview Process
The interviews overall went very smooth, with a mix of technical and non-technical questions. My approach towards the interview was to be confident and honest and always expect the best outcome.
1. Online Assessment test
- I got a call from the team of KPMG Netherlands to give an online assessment test. This included some personality-related questions.
2. Second Round Interview
- After the online test, I had a skype interview scheduled with the HR Head and Senior Manager.
- The questions were a mix of technical and non-technical questions, which I was able to answer easily.
3. Final Interview Round
- The next interview was again on Skype with the team I was going to work, the manager and senior engineer.
- This time we ended up having the interview via Facetime due to some connectivity issue with skype. This round also went well.
4. Time for the results
- To my surprise the next day itself I got a call and was offered a permanent job.
- I was informed via call the next day after the second interview that I was offered a permanent job with KPMG with a 5-year work permit.
- The very next day I had my discussion with the HR.
- So totally in a week, the process was closed and the offer letter was issued.
- The main tip is to be confident and honest. Dutch people are very direct.
- Do not write anything in your resume which is not true.
- In your resume explain what you have done and why do you feel your skill sets are a good match for the profile they are looking for
- Do your homework about the job profile your applying for. Understand the job description well and also alter your resume according to it so that your important skill sets are highlighted. But again if you have those skills. Do not bluff. Be very honest.
A Career in Finance & Accounting in the Netherlands
Finance/Accounting jobs in the Netherlands
The Netherlands and Amsterdam, in particular, is famous for its innovations and digital enhancements around the world. India has a mass population of engineers who have ample lucrative opportunities available here.
There are various great career opportunities in the Netherlands, but primarily for professional with IT-related skillsets.
There is a lot of Finance/Accounting jobs in the Netherlands for expats.
Chartered Accountants/ ACCAs/ CPAs can find opportunities with accounting and auditing firms like the Big 4s.
It is preferable for an expat to apply after obtaining a certain amount of prior experience (minimum 2-3 years) or else there is not enough motivation for the company to sponsor for your visa.
If one is searching for a company to also sponsor their visa, then they have to make sure that they have relevant skill sets which are in high demand.
Some finance-related profiles which are in high demand currently in the Netherlands are:
- Data Analytics
- IT audit
- SAP Consultants
Finance/Accounting Qualifications Recognized in the Netherlands
- The Netherlands have their own local accounting body and the CAs are called Registered Accountants (RA).
- ACCA and CPA are quite widely recognized here.
How To Find a job in the Netherlands if you are an Expat Accountant
- I would advise looking for a company that you would like to work with and then visit its online portal for relevant job openings. Most multinational companies are ready to sponsor for your visa which makes the process a lot easier.
- Also, a good way to search is via LinkedIn. Try to connect with the HR and active professionals to inform you of relevant job openings.
- LinkedIn is a good platform to network and connect with other professionals.
- Also, try to attend different meetings and seminars where like-minded professionals would come to attend.
Living in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a beautiful country. It is famous for its water management, bikes, and Cheese.
The work-life balance is amazing (only if you are not in Audit :P). The Dutch give more preference to their personal life in comparison to their professional life which makes life more real.
Cost of Living in the Netherlands
- The cost of living in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam is quite high. But if you choose another city like Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Zwolle, Utrecht, etc., the prices are going to be comparatively less.
- The rent for a single occupancy room can range from 600-1000 euros per month (this can include electricity, water and cleaning expenses), depending on your locality.
- Monthly fixed insurance expenses are within 70-120 euros.
- It is important to know how to cook (YouTube is my savior) if you do not want to spend money eating outside. Monthly grocery expenses can be easily managed in 200-300 euros. There are many Indian grocery stores and restaurants in the city, therefore food has never been a problem. The cities are bike (cycle) friendly with great infrastructure, hence traveling is also healthy and economical.
Salary in the Netherlands for Accountants
- The Netherlands has a minimum wage limit of approx EUR 1600 per month but the salary would depend on the experience and profile applied for.
- The average salary for an experienced Senior Auditor would be EUR 50-75K p.a.
- Moreover, if you fall under the category of a highly skilled migrant which makes the 30% ruling applies to you. This means that you do not pay any tax on 30% of your income (in simple, you pay tax on 70% of your Gross income).
- Overall one easily saves more in comparison to what they would in India (or if you come from any developing country) and at the same time live a healthy and successful life.
Fellow Finance Expats in the Netherlands
- There are lots of pages available on Facebook of fellow Indians residing in the Netherlands.
- It is easy to connect with them and ask for some tips. Otherwise, a simple search on google also helps.
Famous websites for rental house/flats
- Pararius.nl (open in chrome to get English version)
- More information about life in Amsterdam can be found on https://www.iamsterdam.com/en.
In the current era, where Data is being considered as one of the most expensive commodities and technology is rapidly changing, it is imperative to embrace this change and bring innovations in how we work.
What is Data Analytics?
Data analytics is the analysis of data. For us Chartered Accountants the client’s transactions recorded in the books of accounts are the relevant data.
We perform our audit using data analytical tools which help us replace traditional manual audit procedures (like reconciliations, 3-way match, Recalculations, Valuations, etc).
We also use different auditing techniques (Correlation analysis between two related accounts) which help bring efficiency and effectiveness in audit by bringing more quality (since everything is automated).
With the use of data analytical capabilities, auditors are able to focus only on outliers and perform a risk-based audit.
What is the future of being a Data Analyst?
Looking at how technology is drastically changing the dynamics of businesses around the globe, I feel data analytics is the future of how we perform a secure and reliable Audit.
There are a lot of innovative techniques being designed to help reduce the boring redundant tasks and help focus on more pressing issues.
Having a strong understanding of journal entries and business understanding is required to be able to efficiently analyze and perform analytical work on the data. That is why a Chartered Accountant with Data Analytical skills are in great demand.
My current profile includes helping the auditors use data analytics capabilities in their audit engagements.
I manage a team of IT technical professionals who perform secure data extraction from the client system, cleanse and validate the data using analytical tools and preparing systematic audit analytical reports which replace traditional manual audit procedures thereby bringing efficiency in the Audit.
How to learn about Data Analytics?
I learned Data Analytics all on the job.
I recently heard that ACCA has included some material related to Data analytics in audit in their curriculum. Definitely, I would advise fellow CA colleagues to get acquainted with it to be ready for the ever-changing future.
The Netherlands is an amazing country to work and live in. The work-life balance is great. The country offers excellent infrastructure and facilities. Equal opportunities are given to everyone.
At the same time getting a job abroad is not that easy but pretty much doable.
Start your search by identifying the companies you want to work for and look for job opportunities on their online portal.
Go through the job description carefully and if your skill sets match the requirements, prepare a well-crafted CV and apply.
BONUS: Actionable Advice from Chartered Accountants Who Moved Abroad
Lebogang, Chartered Accountant expat living in Amsterdam
I was contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn. My LinkedIn profile was very up to date, I believe this contributed to the recruiter being able to find my profile.
I got an opportunity to move to the Netherlands from South Africa through GAAP Placements. However after almost a year at EY, Netherlands I moved two jobs.
- Meraki Talent
- Pro global consulting
- Eden Scott
- Indeed and Glassdoor are also handy
Govind, Chartered Accountant / SAP Consultant living in Den Haag
Currently, I am living in Den Haag and working in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
It is a dream come true for a boy like me living in a small town to traveling the world and now working and living in the Netherlands.
Over Past years, I have gained a lot of new accounting and finance knowledge like Accounting practices of very large organizations, GAAP ( IFRS, Europen and US GAAPs).
I played various roles in the IT industry as a business analyst, Subject matter expert, FIN Consultant and Finance Transformation Consultant.
As a part of my work, I have traveled across different countries in 9 years including, the UK, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Vietnam.
Janet Su, CPA Canada expat living in Switzerland
I had immense pressures from my parents who wanted me to open my own accounting firm one day. It was totally something I DID NOT want to do.
I first visited Switzerland in 2014 and I fell in love with the country.
In fact, before considering my Masters Degree in Switzerland I had applied for jobs here but it was tough because Swiss companies do not like to sponsor non-Swiss or non-EU nationals.
Two years went by so fast and I finished my Masters degree and I realized I wanted to stay in Switzerland longer, that’s when I decided to do a Ph.D. instead.
The pay from the Ph.D. covers all my costs of living. It is quite generous. The pay is more than most professors make in other countries.
In fact, if we consider the currency exchange, then I am earning more in Canadian dollars than I was earning back home as a CPA. I also pay less taxes here.
You can read – How I quit my job as a CPA Canada and Moved to Switzerland
Now It’s Your Turn…
Are you considering moving to the Netherlands?
What steps are you taking towards your move?
Anyway, I could help?
Please leave your comments in the section below. I could also be reached on LinkedIn at Rishabh Lamba.