Moving overseas can seem daunting, and it poses a variety of challenges for different people. Tyler Wren has a wealth of knowledge to help you make the right decisions for your move, prepare thoroughly for the practical stuff that you need to consider and action and give you the peace of mind that you’re making the best decision for you and your family.
New Zealand citizens are appealing to Australian employers for several reasons. However, the most important is the ability to live and work in Australia as an NZ Citizen. There are exceptions to this, but for the most part, it’s pretty straightforward for New Zealanders. Make sure you check with Australian Immigration to make sure this applies to you before making any bold commitments. – Visas
Transferable skills/what is not transferable
For Auditors who have gained their qualifications and CA/CPA in New Zealand, it’s pretty much business as usual. New Zealand-trained and qualified Auditors tend to move over and secure work approximately at the same salary and job title as they have achieved in New Zealand, as the skills are transferable.
BAS accountants, however, have more of a challenge ahead. The first thing to note is that the term “Senior BAS” is not readily used in Australia. They will tend to call that position “Senior Business Services” The main sticking point is the difference between Australian and New Zealand taxes. There are some firms I work with that would simply not employ somebody with no Australian Tax knowledge, whilst I work with others that would provide support and potentially put you through their grad tax training to bring you up to speed. Knowing which firms to apply to and which ones not to waste your time with is a massive advantage of using a recruiter.
If your move to Australia is something you are planning for in the future, then there are some steps you can take to combat the lack of Australian tax knowledge. The easiest way is to see if there are any opportunities within your current firm to work on Australian tax, although, for most, it’s unlikely this would be an option. Another way would be to consider a CA foundations course. With this, you could study and sit an Australian tax module.
When looking for work in Australia, it’s essential to understand the difference between Kiwi Saver and Superannuation. In Australia, it is the employer’s responsibility to pay superannuation which is often quoted as part of the total package on offer. This is worth noting as the percentage is much higher than the 3% Kiwisaver. Superannuation is currently at 10.5% and is due to rise to 12% over the coming years. You can find more information here.
Companies will usually have a default Superannuation fund. However, you can shop around and find your own. When you are applying for jobs or receiving an offer, make sure you know if the figure quoted includes Superannuation or excludes Superannuation.
Tax File Number
This is something that you will need to set up. Firms will often assist. However, it is something you can do yourself here.
CA/CPA how to transfer mid-qualification
Moving companies whilst partway through your CA/CPA course is something that is commonly done in New Zealand. Study costs usually bonded to current employers are often transferred to new companies, sometimes directly, without affecting the accountant/auditor. Moving to Australia is a bit different. You can continue the CA/CPA program, but you will likely have to pay back your bond, and then once you move to Australia and start work, your new employer will then pay you the sum back and rebond it. In Australia, the bond will often be referred to as a clawback.
In many cases, firms will assist with relocation costs for an individual or, in some cases, an entire family. There is no hard rule on when this will apply, and we recruiters will often negotiate on your behalf. Different professions will have different benefits, and in the accounting space, I often see it as a $ $ $ value provided towards flights.
Preparing for interviews (the difference in interview styles between NZ and AU)
This one may seem a little strange. However, let me explain. The feedback I regularly get from Kiwis interviewing in Australia is that they felt underwhelmed by the interview. There are several reasons for this, but it stems from New Zealand’s shortage of CA candidates in the local market. New Zealand has a massive shortage of public practice accountants and auditors. Often this leads to employers rolling out the red carpet at interviews, selling their firm, and the benefits and showcasing why someone should work for them – it is a competitive market for employers. Interviews often become just as much about why you should work for them as why they should employ you.
If you have been in this environment for several years, it can feel like a bit of a shock when interviewing at Australian firms as it becomes more about you and less about them. This is because the Australian market has more population and, therefore, more candidates to choose from, so the process is more balanced than in New Zealand. Also, as you are relocating from New Zealand, this is a potential “flight risk” for the firm, meaning that hiring someone from overseas is more challenging than hiring a local candidate.
As an example, someone relocating overseas may not settle into their new Australian life and return home, they need to build up a social circle, and they need to learn the local market, industries and generally how things are done.
This doesn’t mean they don’t want you, they just want to ensure that you are the right person for them and committed to a move. Often an offer will follow and surprise my candidates.
Why use an NZ-based recruiter over an Australian one
Whilst nobody could argue that a local recruiter should be well-networked in your desired city, however, there are some things to consider. An Australian recruiter is likely to have local candidates. Given the challenges of finding New Zealand candidates to work in Australia (like the lack of AU tax), they are likely to prioritise local candidates first. A recruiter specialising in helping people move to Australia is less likely to be engaged with local candidates and able to provide helpful advice on what’s involved, the differences and warning of some of the pitfalls that can be involved in the move.
An NZ-based recruiter will be able to explain and talk through your employers far better than an Australian-based recruiter, as they know and understand the NZ market. A recruiter who knows both markets will be able to match your skills and experience to the right firm. An NZ recruiter who does not work with local Australian candidates is not limited to which firms they approach. Most recruiters will choose which firms they remove staff from and which firms they recruit for – this simply is not an issue for those recruiters not sourcing local Australian candidates, therefore maximising the firms that they can consider on your behalf.
Picking the right city/regions
Australia is a vast country, and its cities and states are all very different in their own way. It is essential to understand where you want to move to and not take a blanket approach to the country. I often work with candidates that may be open to multiple cities, perhaps Melbourne and Sydney, for example. But in many cases, the HR team will work across both these cities, and it can often be perceived as a negative if they see applications for both locations, almost like you are not committed. It’s best to understand which city is your first choice and make applications to that city first. A recruiter can be helpful in this instance, as they can see which city has the most opportunities for you before you make any applications.
When deciding which city to relocate to, it’s worth having a conversation with a recruiter to understand each job market. Each city is different, has different skill shortages, and provides different opportunities. Aside from work, it’s also work considering climate, culture, sports and micro-economies, so spend some time researching before committing to a location.
Who should you work for?
Often, accountants and auditors can transfer with their current companies, as many accounting firms are international and have Australian offices. In some cases, this makes sense, “better the devil you know”. There are a couple of things to consider before committing to this, though, as, for example, the same Big 4 in Christchurch will look very different than in Sydney. It is worth considering what you like about your current firm. For example, if it’s the people, then clearly, the people will change when you move internationally. One thing worth noting is the size of the business. For example, a mid-tier firm in Australia could be on par with a Big 4 in New Zealand. Whilst exploring opportunities with your current firm is an option, it could pay to look at the whole market before committing to a transfer.
Salaries and cost of living when moving to Australia
As mentioned earlier in the article, it’s essential to be aware of and consider the superannuation component of your package. However, there are a couple more things to consider regarding money. The Australian dollar is typically stronger than the New Zealand dollar. So for example, when this article was written, $100AUD was equivalent to $110.35NZD. That’s a 10% difference. This, coupled with a cheaper cost of living, tends to lean toward your income stretching further. (There are exceptions to this, such as the Sydney housing market)
This article only scratches the surface. If you are considering a move to Australia, it’s worth reaching out to people who have made a move. And in this case, recruiters that have helped assist people in doing it.
If you are a New Zealand Accountant or Auditor, get in touch and see how we can assist with your move over the ditch. Ben Holloway | email@example.com | 03 244 0258