UK job market for expat finance professionals: From job hunting to applying for a visa, everything you need to know.

How this Indian CA got a finance job in the UK

  • Meet Ashish Verma, a Chartered Accountant and an IT Professional from India.
  • After 15 years of working in different countries, such as UAE, Singapore, and Vietnam, he decided to start all over.
  • From job hunting in the UK market to applying for a visa, and settling down, learn how he made the move.
  • Excerpts from the interview.

Why after 15 years of working in different countries, such as Singapore, and UAE, you took the leap? How did you approach the entire move from Vietnam to the UK?

I became a Chartered Accountant in 2008 and have consistently pursued new challenges ever since.  

Going from India to the Middle East, and to Vietnam, I have taken every opportunity to acquire knowledge. 

Although I chose finance as my career path, I have always been passionate about technology. But since Vietnam is a very small market, the number of opportunities is also very limited.

So I said, “Let me just take a look outside of Vietnam and see what opportunities are available.”

I shortlisted a few countries, such as the UK and Singapore. I considered factors such as pay scale, job growth, work culture, and visa requirements. The last one was more complex in Singapore.  

When I was looking at different countries, I was more driven by career aspirations and opportunities and less by the place. And that’s how I zeroed in on London, UK.

I spoke to a few recruiters, and friends who were already there and it gave me an overview of that environment. I went ahead and applied to a couple of companies for two months. 

To my surprise, I received an offer in 2022 with fair compensation. I decided to accept the offer.

The interview process lasted for a few weeks, with multiple rounds with various stakeholders. But it was worth it.

You moved to the UK on a Global Talent Visa. Tell us more about the Visa Process and how long it took you to start your new job in the UK.  

There are different types of visas in the UK, such as scaleup visas, startup visas, skilled worker visas, and global talent visas. 

Although my employer agreed to sponsor my visa, I found out that there is another type of visa that does not require sponsorship. It is a global talent visa.

  • You must have skills in one of the following sectorsAcademia or research, Arts and culture, and Digital technology, ( I applied for this.).
  • You have to showcase your contribution to the DigiTech field or another field of your choice. They need to know whether you have the necessary skills and experience of building new products in relevant and important industries or not.
  • I designed blockchain-based ecosystems for industries such as ESG – Climate focused and Financial Services and built predictive models using machine learning for commodities trading and Automation. 
  • The next step is to get an organization, or a specific local body assigned by the UK government to endorse you.
  • For this step, I wrote a comprehensive application to the local organization, highlighting my skills, projects I have done in the last two-three years, and my future career plans to add value to the UK economy.
  • I included testimonials from industry leaders to strengthen my application. 

They approved my endorsement within four weeks and I was eligible to apply for the visa under the Global Talent category. (You can check out the UK government site for more information)

The whole visa process took around 3-4 months and I started my new job in early 2023.

I now have a resident visa for 3 years, after which I’ll be eligible to apply for an indefinite leave to remain in the UK.  

Also Read

The changes in UK visa rules will allow international students to switch to UK Skilled Worker Visa before even graduating. This will create more opportunities and flexibility for them.

What are the living expenses in the UK? How did you adapt and settle in after relocating to the UK?  

Living expenses: 

  • The UK is one of the most expensive countries, as far as I have seen. 
  • Housing alone can take up around 20-25% of your expenses. 
  • Remember that you also have to pay for utilities, council tax, and groceries, which can amount to £1000-1500 depending on your lifestyle. 
  • Going out and eating can also be quite expensive. 


  • Finding a place to stay can be a meticulous task. 
  • When I moved here, I took a serviced apartment for a month while I searched for a permanent place. 
  • It took me an extra three weeks to find accommodation because of the Christmas holidays, but if you're moving in the middle of the year, it should be easier. 
  • You can find property listings on websites like On The Market and Zoopla, but remember that you have to be quick. 
  • Once you find your place you'll have to put a deposit down within a few hours, or else it’ll be gone. Trust me on this. 
  • There's also a referencing process that can take up to two to three weeks, where they check your salary with your current employer, contact your previous landlord, and ask for character references. The process of signing contracts is also involved. 
  • To increase my chances, I spoke to multiple agents and asked them to contact me before the house was put on the list.  

Despite the challenges, moving to the UK can be a great experience.

How did Brexit affect the Financial Services Industry in the UK? 

The impact of Brexit on the Financial Services Industry has been significant.

The good news is that the UK has a huge economy with a GDP of over £2.2 trillion. This means that there are plenty of job opportunities, despite the worrying news about the recession. 

European organizations are setting up their businesses outside the UK, post-Brexit. France and Switzerland are some of the preferred options for these organizations. 

As a result, fewer skilled professionals are moving here. Immigration from other European countries has also reduced in the last few years. 

Many companies in the UK are now considering filling the open positions with non-European expats. This has increased the chances of job hunting for Indian professionals, especially the ones with highly recognized skill sets.

Are Finance Jobs in demand in the UK, especially for expats? If so then what type of companies in the UK is hiring Finance Professionals the most?

You would find a significant number of finance job vacancies getting advertised every day in the UK. 

These organizations are hiring extensively to close the talent gap while showing great respect for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Startup space: 

  • There has been a surge of startups moving to the next phase of their business lifecycle across various sectors, such as Artificial Intelligence, Fintech, and SaaS. These are called scale-up companies or scale-ups. 
  • They have already moved past the seed stage, and have launched their product. Now they want to build revenue, scale the organization, and form robust corporate governance.
  • Many of these entrepreneurs lack expertise in finance, which is why they are looking to hire finance professionals with relevant experience. 
  • They want you to chart a growth plan for their companies, or help them get ready for the growth phase of the business.

The Big 4s:

  • The Big 4s in the UK are not hiring for your typical Audit roles but for Business Transformation, Transaction Advisory, and Risk Management.
  • Consulting opportunities are also available outside the Big 4s and in companies like Accenture, Capgemini, BCG, and McKinsey. 

While the salary structure depends entirely on the company you are applying to, you can earn upwards of £60k-£80k as a Finance Manager. Directors can earn between £100k-£120k. 

If you are applying for a niche role like a private equity CFO, the pay scale is much higher, ranging from £150k-£180k, plus bonuses and equity. It’s recommended that you discuss your salary with your prospective employer thoroughly before applying for a visa.   

Also Read

CAs obviously aspire to become a Big 4 partner but for Varun that was not the only aspiration as he looks beyond job titles. Varun is at present the Finance Transformation Leader at Protiviti UK.

How can an Indian Chartered Accountant get a job in the UK? What kind of experience and qualifications do they need to acquire? 

The first thing you need to understand is that basic accounting and finance knowledge may not be enough, you need something more. 

The UK job market demands specific skill sets, and technology is an essential component in the finance industry. Therefore, having knowledge of different technology is critical.

Organizations in the UK require individuals to handle both Information Technology (IT) and Finance functions. Gladly my finance skills are well complemented with IT skills.

Working with emerging and traditional tech has given me an edge in my career opportunities. 

When it comes to years of experience, companies in the UK tend to hire professionals with at least 10 years of experience. 

But don’t lose hope if you are a fresher. 

  • Having a local professional qualification is a must in this situation. 
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is an international professional body for chartered accountants. They offer the Chartered Accountancy qualification in the UK, a highly-respected professional qualification in the UK. 
  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has a Memorandum Of Understanding with ICAEW. As a member of ICAI, you can obtain the CA qualification from ICAEW easily.
  • You just have to pass their three advanced ACA exams and complete the online Ethics Learning Programme.
  • If you have the financial resources and time to spare, enroll yourself for some in-demand courses at B-Schools, or do a Master’s in the UK. Through this route, you’ll have a higher chance of securing a job via campus placement, which is more efficient if you are a fresher.

Closing …

In 2021, the financial services sector was a major contributor to the UK economy, generating £173.6 billion, which accounted for 8.3% of the country's total output. 

As of Q1 2022, there were 1.08 million jobs in the financial services sector, making up 3.0% of all jobs in the country. 

This proves that there will continue to be a need for Finance Professionals in various positions in the UK.

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