Are you Recently Qualified, or About to Finish Your Training Contract, and Thinking of Moving to Australia?

Then this is the blog for you!

Lately we’ve been dealing lots with qualified accountants who are planning to move to Australia and are unsure what to do work wise. To help Lisa Hughes, Team Lead – Recently Qualified Accountants, with Barden, together with Gillian Duffy, Consultant, with TOM Executive, wrote this blog just for you.

According to TOM Executive, one of Australia’s leading specialist financial services recruitment firms, in the last year alone they’ve seen 40-50 Irish Chartered Accountants make the move to Sydney, alone. That’s a lot of accountants!

So if you’re considering a move, how are you going to stand out from the crowd, and what do you need to do and know before you go?

Why do they know what they’re talking about?

Lisa Hughes, ACA, KPMG trained, is a Team Lead – Recently Qualified Accountants with Barden, and is an expert in recently qualified accountants careers. She recently returned from a sabbatical from Barden where she spent 9 months travelling and working in Australia and New Zealand. During her time in Australia she was a Specialist Recruiter in commerce, industry, audit, risk and compliance with TOM Executive.

Gillian Duffy, ACA, is a Consultant with TOM Executive in Australia. She specialises in commerce and industry careers in commercial finance. Before moving to Australia Gillian completed her training contract with KPMG Ireland.

What is the market ACTUALLY like in Sydney at the moment?

The current market in Australia is buoyant and has really picked up in the last 12 months. In particular FMCG, retail, property and infrastructure is where most of the hiring is outside of financial services.

Some of the key factors driving the growth of roles in these areas are:

·       Offshoring has been done – looking for growth.

·       New systems implementations and or projects.

·       Restructuring of finance teams.

·       Increased commercial support for the business.

·       International investment in Australian businesses.

·       Property and infrastructure in Sydney are booming.

All great and really positive signs, providing you with lots of opportunities!

What kind of roles do qualified accountants typically move into when they go to Australia?

“Like everywhere else the types of roles qualified accountants get into over in Australia really depends on the experience the candidate has. For example, if you are coming straight from audit in practice it’s likely you’ll go into a financial accounting or year-end reporting role. If you come from advisory in practice, you may be able to get involved in different projects that are happening and help out in modelling projects and or strategic initiatives.” Gillian

What experience is seen as being particularly valuable for companies taking on qualified accountants moving to Australia?

In the last year TOM Executive has seen about 40-50 Irish Chartered Accountants make the move to Sydney, alone. That’s a lot of accountants!

“Those who are more successful in securing an interesting role are people who come with 6-12 months’ post qualification experience (PQE) in a role in industry. In other words those who gain non practice experience. You will secure a role much quicker than others with only practice experience, as you are more attractive to the client having had exposure into how the financial processes and systems work.” Gillian

Many considering the move are unaware of the benefit of having a bit of experience outside of practice, under their belt, before they move.

“We dealt with one candidate who moved over with a group of friends. All were qualified accountants and had completed their training contracts in the big four firms. The majority continued in practice after qualifying, bar one, who completed a contract role in industry before moving to Australia. As a result of this contract role, and the experienced he gained during it, he was far more desirable to employers in Australia and stood out from the crowd. For him securing a role was much easier.” Lisa

So experience outside practice seems to be really useful…

Coming to the end of your training contract you’ll be faced with lots of different options and decisions. One of those may be that you’re considering to travel in the next year or so.

“We’re seeing it time and time again for those qualified accountants moving abroad that getting experience outside of practice makes you far more attractive to potential employers. That applies whether you’re planning on going to Sydney, Melbourne or Vancouver.” Gillian & Lisa

This is even more important given the supply of Irish qualified accountants in Australia has increased so much over the past 2 years, increasing the competition for roles and making it harder for people to stand out.

Not only will this experience help you secure your role much quicker, you could also be eligible for a higher salary. (Experience dependant).

Out of the 40-50 people mentioned above only a handful had some non-practice PQE. They were the ones highly sought after, given their extra experience and knowledge, and were far more attractive to employers.

What is the average pay rate for a recently qualified accountant?

Obviously pay rates vary depending on experience however a good benchmark is (keep in mind the salaries below are in Australian dollars!!):

·       Newly qualified: $85,000 – $95,000 + super*

·       1-2 years’ experience PQE: $100,000 – $110,000 + super*

·       2-4 years’ experience PQE: $110,000 = $120,000 + super*

Once you get sponsored or are made permanent in an organisation, there is usually a 15-25% bonus component attached to your base.

*Superannuation (Super) is compulsory over here in Sydney. It is 9.5% of your salary. You are not able to access this money until you leave Sydney. When you leave, you are able to claim this back but you can be taxed quite heavily. 

What is the best time of year to get hired?

“It’s very busy in Sydney at the moment on the contract desk across all industries. The only quiet period is in December/January; nothing really happens until after Jan 25th (Australia day) as people are taking their summer holidays. It’s important to keep this in mind if you are coming over in the first few weeks of January.” Gillian

Another time to keep in mind is mid-April to mid-June, which is pre-year end for a lot of companies in Australia. It tends to be a busy time as companies are setting budgets and planning for the year ahead.

It’s important to keep these times in mind especially when planning your big move!

What is the likelihood of sponsorship if you wanted to stay for more than one year?

Securing sponsorship in Sydney has become a lot harder in the past couple of years, with the government tightening the grip on who gets sponsored.

“Most of the contract roles which TOM Executive recruit for are four or six month contracts, and they’ve noticed that those who perform very well within the initial period have a higher probability of being sponsored. Once you do receive sponsorship, you are then eligible to work in Australia for a two to four year period, depending on what the firm offers.” Gillian

It’s good to note that the visa options and rules have changed recently, so best to check out the Department of Foreign Affairs website for the most up to date information.

What should you do next?

Talk to us, before you make the move. Taking the time to get your ducks in a row, your information together and more importantly the right experience is essential to make you stand out from the crowd and secure the best opportunities.

Contract roles here in Ireland are a sure way to gain that different and valuable experience.

Contact Lisa at who would be more than happy to have a coffee and chat with you about your potential move to Australia.

Gillian is also more than happy to help too and can be reached at


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