Nicola, you are based in Scotland but place Audit and Accounting professionals into the Netherlands, how did that come about?
I’ve been doing international recruitment for quite a few years, with a particular focus on the Netherlands, recruiting primarily assurance positions for the Big 4, practice accountancy firms and industry clients. There’s a shortage of qualified accountants globally including in the Netherlands, and we help candidates to secure new opportunities and relocate to cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Utrecht, etc. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Netherlands, and you can probably tell from the surname that there’s a family connection – my dad and my brother are from the Netherlands, so it’s in the blood! I’m always first to volunteer for client visits as I love the country and it’s nice to meet up with the people we have helped to secure a move there, plus I get to practice my Dutch – I’ve been taking lessons for the last year but it’s pretty tricky!
What are the key demand areas in the Netherlands currently?
I would say a key shortage is experienced and qualified auditors, both external and internal. As is often the case, with external auditing there’s normally long working hours during the busier periods and with internal audit there can often be quite a lot of international travel involved, which isn’t for everyone. We’re also noticing shortages in the accounting & advisory space, particularly professionals with strong technical expertise who can advise clients on changes to reporting standards / assist them in implementing new standards.
There’s also a huge demand for fluent Dutch speakers, but it’s such an international, outward looking society with lots of opportunities for expats so we encourage candidates not to be put off if they don’t speak Dutch.
What were your impressions of the working environments out there?
The first thing you notice is that there is a respect for work-life balance, including with some Big 4 firms which can be a bit of a shock depending where you’ve worked previously.
The work environments also tend to be very sociable with lots of social events organised and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. When I was last over in the Netherlands I encountered a whole team of staff heading out for a group run after work!
It also offers a very multicultural working environment. To give you an example, I know one company who have an internal audit team of around 30-40 people and have as many as 20 different nationalities in that one department. The business language spoken in the larger, international firms is often English.
The offices we have visited are normally super modern, many with open work spaces that have an “open door policy” where partners and associates all sit together. And if you like a more relaxed dress code, you’re in luck as more and more firms are starting to introduce a dress down policy.
What remuneration packages are being offered to Auditors in the Netherlands?
Like everything else, salary scale and benefits vary dependent upon the role, company and city.
Expats are normally eligible for the “30% ruling” – a tax benefit available for highly skilled expats which increases the net salary. For this benefit, there are certain criteria that must be met and you can’t apply for it until you get to the Netherlands.
Other benefits (again, depending on role and company) can include things like; a company car or car allowance (more common in accounting firms), performance bonus, pension, discounts on gym memberships, etc. Most firms hiring expats offer relocation packages (including company sponsorship for non-EU applicants) too and practical support such as providing Dutch language classes.
Where have you relocated people to the Netherlands from?
The preconception is that we’re relocating professionals from Scotland and the UK. And certainly we are doing that, however most people we’ve helped to secure work in the Netherlands have come from outwith the UK: Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, Columbia, Turkey, Canada, Africa, Singapore, Russia, India, etc. It’s a great part of my role as I love speaking with people from different parts of the world, learning about the different cultures, personalities, etc. And we find from a client perspective, the more diverse the candidate base the better, as it offers them a range of different languages and skills.
Are your clients offering sponsorship to non-EU candidates?
Nine times out of ten the companies that we work with do offer sponsorship. They’ll start recruiting in the local market, and then expand their search to the rest of the EU, but because there is a skills shortage, clients do look out to the international market and provide sponsorship and relocation to attract the right talent.
What feedback have you had from people you’ve placed there so far?
The top piece of feedback is that learning some basic Dutch really helps, even if you don’t need it to do your job. Locals really appreciate that you’re making the effort to integrate with them.
People also enjoy working in an international environment, with diverse markets, exposure to different clients and sectors which they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do elsewhere.
On a practical note, the rental market is super competitive, especially in Amsterdam. I have never known someone to not secure a rental, however it is important to know that there will be some effort involved and to be prepared to go to multiple viewings and move quickly if you like a property.
Are you thinking about a move to the Netherlands yourself? Contact Nicola today to find out more about opportunities available to you.