Go east, young accountant - Spend & Save - Money - The Independent

Go east, young accountant

Russia offers riches to Western expats who can take the hard-edged lifestyle. Paul Gosling looks at a great career option for the truly tough

Major corporations creating Russian subsidiaries are searching for accountants from the West to look after their money. Those who take the jobs can earn massive salaries and give their careers a boost, but they face a range of perils, from deadly boredom in almost forgotten towns in the middle of nowhere, to the risk of kidnap or murder at the hands of the powerful Moscow mafias.

Russia today is a cross between Chicago in the gun-toting, liquor-running, roaring Twenties, and the frontier territories of the Wild West, with accountants in the thick of it, says Hugh Everard, director of Michael Page's Eastern Europe division. Those who flourishhave got their careers made. "They either crumple quickly, or they make it," says Mr Everard.

And making it in the context of Eastern Europe can mean a tax-free salary, courtesy of an offshore account, well in excess of US$150,000. Accommodation will be thrown in, along with a chauffeur, car and personal security. Large hardship allowances will be paid for those who end up in an obscure Siberian town.

For the Michael Page recruitment agency, the Eastern Europe division has become an important element of its operations. "A lot of Western investment is going in," says Mr Everard. "When corporations make that investment they want to know what is happening to their money. Often it is a joint venture, hoping to gain control."

It is not merely that Western businesses feel more at ease trusting Western accountants. Few accountants in Russia have GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice) reporting experience, or understand Western accounting practices. Lucien Bartram is group accountant for the Gunsbury pharmaceutical group, which is heavily involved in Russia, requiring Mr Bartram to visit Russia and the Ukraine almost monthly.

"The problems for accountants are focused on differences of reporting requirements," says Mr Bartram. "In Russia there is no requirement to produce consolidated accounts. A lot of normal expenses are disallowable, making the real tax rate a lot higher, at 30 to 35 per cent.

"The profit motive is a very new concept. Minds in the West are focused on short-termism, profits, return on capital, but the legislation in Russia still requires returns showing full employment. These were statistics that the former government used to throw out to the world as proof of their economic model. So there is a huge problem in bringing Russian companies into line with what the West expects," adds Mr Bartram.

Nor is this the least of the challenges an accountant may expect. Hays Executive has also been recruiting for posts in Eastern and Central Europe. "We had one person whose chauffeur was kidnapped twice," says Neil Holmes, business manager for Hays Executive. On the first occasion the ransom was for the car, and on the second it was for the chauffeur's life.

"He was based in Moscow, his employer was American and had a policy of employees integrating into the community," explains Mr Holmes. "Only he and his wife were placed in a housing estate and found it a very threatening environment. They ended up living in the compound of the company they worked for."

Problems are worst in Moscow, less severe in St Petersburg, and quite different in remote places such as Siberia. Despite the isolation of such communities, many executives enjoy themselves greatly if they can fit into small ex-pat communities, and develop a frontier spirit.

Attitude is the key to being successful in Eastern Europe, but knowledge of the region can be important in landing the jobs. "It is a bit of a catch-22," says Mr Holmes, "as many employers want previous Russian experience. The next best thing is fluency in Russian."

While speaking Russian is obviously a help in landing a job and coping with life when there, it is often not an essential job requirement. Russia's business lingua franca is English, and much investment comes from America. And, at least in Moscow, Westerners can become part of a large ex-pat community, with a vibrant social life.

Once the Navy told recruits they could see the world, gain new friends and find excitement. Now all that and more - a small fortune - is on offer to accountants.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Sales Executive

    £20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

    Payroll & Accounts Assistant

    £20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

    £280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week