In January 2007, newly qualified chartered accountant Gavin Smith, 24, swapped his life as an Auditor at KPMG on the Sunshine Coast (Australia) for the tube, grey climes of London and a brand new role as Financial Controller at First Merchant Capital. We caught up with Gavin to find out how everything is faring a few months on…
Before you arrived in London, what were you doing?
I was an auditor for KPMG on the Sunshine Coast, just north of Brisbane for two years. Before that I worked at PKF in Brisbane for a year.
What made you decide to work in UK?
I was keen to build up my career and get exposure outside an accountancy firm. Once I qualified as a chartered accountant last December, I felt I was in a stronger position to get work abroad and use my skills in a commercial environment. London was also the ideal base to work at overseas as the rest of Europe is so close and easy to access.
A few of my friends had also worked in the UK and came back with great reports, so I thought why not?
How quickly did it take to organise everything?
We decided to seize the moment. As soon as we got back from our honeymoon, we booked a one way ticket to London, which departed in two months. We thought that would give us enough time to get essential things organised, like accommodation and working our notice period in our jobs. We went onto the site Gumtree.co.uk and managed to sort a flat share pretty quickly.
What about lining up work?
I talked to a few larger employment agencies before leaving, to get a feel for the job market in London and my employers at KPMG offered to help out should I need it. In the end I decided to wait until I arrived in England.
When did you decide to look for work?
On my fifth day of being in London, I decided to look for a job. I went on to the website CareersinAudit.com and found a financial controller role that really interested me. Within hours I was called up by the recruitment agency, went in for an interview with First Merchant Capital and started there two days later. I’ve been there ever since, employed on a rolling contract.
What’s the best thing about your new job?
Without a doubt, I’m getting some great experience in a corporate finance and commercial role. Even if I go back to my old auditing job when I return to Australia it will prove to have been a valuable time as I have got to see things from the other side of the desk so to speak. Also my employers understand that I am here on a working-holiday and have been flexible in terms of giving me time off to travel.
What tips would you give to anyone thinking about working in the UK?
- If you are studying for a professional qualification, make sure you complete it before you leave. You’ll be in stronger position to get a wider range of job offers.
- Try and secure a short term contract before you leave your country. At least you will have some security when you arrive in the UK and it means you can check out the job market when you are here.
- Make sure you have a reasonable amount of money saved up for when you arrive. Paying for a deposit and rent in advance can be big shock – especially when you are converting to pounds. It also means you don’t have to rush into a job when you first arrive.
- Allow up to 2-3 weeks to acclimatise to the new culture and get settled in your new environment.
When you leave London, what will you miss most?
Definitely the amount of opportunities and experiences that London has to offer, both work and travel wise. We haven’t stopped since we have been here, always seeing and doing something new and exciting.
The cold, wet and more frustratingly - unpredictable weather. I will definitely appreciate the sun and surf more once I go home.
To look for a new audit job, visit CareersinAudit.com, the leading job site for auditing vacancies.