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Big four accounting firm expat compensation

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caliexpat
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Big four accounting firm expat compensation

Postby caliexpat » Wed, 06 Mar 2013 4:28 pm

Hello everyone,

I am a US citizen that recently received an offer from one of the big four accounting firms in Singapore for about S$6K (including CPF) as an experienced senior for an assurance role, which I *believe* is a typical salary for a local there in a similar position. My previous role (which is an almost identical big four role in the US) paid me closer to around S$8.5K base salary in the states, so it will be quite a fairly significant pay cut for me.

My question is whether this is pretty typical for the big four. I know some companies would be willing to compensate expats a little better, but I wasn't sure if the big four worked the same way. If they don't compensate expats a little higher that is totally fine with me, but I just want to make sure I am receiving a good offer given all of the conditions.

Also, how are the exit opportunities if I wanted to later leave for an internal audit type position later down the road? Would I see a significant bump in compensation? A partner I interviewed with mentioned about a 40% bump but that seemed awfully high.

Finally, with regards to work hours, I am used to the big four life style here in the US, and I don't mind working long hours, but I have heard that the big four hours in Singapore are something else entirely? Does anyone have experience with what kind of hours I will be looking at?

Thanks! Very much appreciated!

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Postby minnie30 » Wed, 06 Mar 2013 8:41 pm

Hi Caliexpat,

So glad I found your post. I moved here with my husband for his job and can hopefully send some good advice your way. He also works for one of the Big 4 and I will say off the bat, you should definitely NOT be getting a pay cut for coming out here. Singapore is SO EXPENSIVE!! His expat package gave us a little more than what he was making in the US and even with that, we aren't "living large" here like many expats do. We can't afford a housekeeper, a car, fine dining, and forget about going to the bars all the time because a cocktail here costs around $15-20.

I don't know what is "typical" for the Big 4 or what other companies do, but if you are seriously interested in moving here, I would negotiate for a MUCH higher salary. Hopefully they will cover your rent expense. We live in a 700sqft 1 bedroom apartment that is $4,000. That is normal if you want to live in a good area. Some 2 bedrooms now are around $4,700-5,000. I know some other expat couples that live here find what they can and then have to pay on top of what the company is paying for them. There is an American Club here, so see if your company will pay the annual membership fee to it. It's worth it, but its about $20,000 to join. Not kidding.

As for your hours, I feel that the hours are much more here...look to be working 8-7 or 9-8 M-F and some Saturdays. If you're still going to be in contact with colleagues back home on the same client, they will request work on days that are public holidays here, but not in the US, so you're really not getting that holiday here.

On a personal note, something I wish people would've told us when we got here, is that the culture is so very different. We are ready to come home tomorrow. The people are rude (not all, but majority) and inconsiderate. Yes, Singapore is safe, but not convenient if you don't have a car.

If you have the opportunity to do the expat program, I think its a great opportunity, but not in Singapore.

I hope this helps some. Good luck!

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 06 Mar 2013 9:27 pm

:roll:

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Wed, 06 Mar 2013 11:08 pm

Captain Raj's blog
star date: March 06
Day 197 in captivity,

I live in something called a condo, but in reality it's a small prison cell, the weather is hot and humid all the time, we are forced to do hard labour, nobody smiles. we are transported in long vehicles which run on tracks, bundled like cattle. I might just give in and fall on my sword, but I trudge on somehow.
we get some days off, but I head to the watering hole where once again our precious resources are taken away from us, snatched if you may call it that.
the natives are hostile and steal our wealth.I listen to music to pass the time....Hope I won't have to face it one day.
In time I shall write more....

live long and prosper.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Postby JR8 » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 12:32 am

I thought Minnie made some good points, and RATM made me genuinely lol :)

My own piece of advice is, NEVER transfer for a lower salary, as you'll never make it back up, where ever you go.

You're good? You have the niche skills they want? You're uprooting your whole life?.... well, then they have to pay a premium for that.

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Postby caliexpat » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 4:57 am

Thanks everyone for your responses. In response to the posts, I'm actually not doing a transfer from within the same firm, nor am I going abroad through one of their expat development programs. I applied for the position locally and received the offer.

I realize that Singapore is pretty expensive, and that I am taking a paycut, which is what is making my decision more difficult. But I don't really expect to be living large or anything. I don't expect to live any different than I currently live in the US (no housekeeper, no car, limited fine dining, no club membership) and I don't drink. I intended to just rent a shared HDB flat and live amongst the locals here.

Minnie, I'm not sure what your husband's position is at his big four firm, but I am guessing he is probably pretty high up there to be able to get the kind of package he got? Either that or it's probably part of one of their global rotation program where you're just staying in Singapore for 2 or less years? Also, 9-8 is actually not bad for a big four. In the US they pretty much work the same hours. I was expecting much worse in Singapore!

Why go to Singapore? I guess being Asian American, I've always wanted to work and live in Asia, even if just for a short duration. Singapore seemed somewhat of an ideal destination since you can get by with just English, it has decent infrastructure, and is a major global financial centre. I was willing to take a pay cut for that, as I have in the past to pursue my dreams (my current salary of $8.5k is about half of what I was making in California). I figure if it were really as horrible as you guys are making it sound, I could always go back to California after a few years and make at least what I was making before (if not potentially more, given the value of the work experience I would be getting), which was really more than I could spend already.

I guess my main concern was making sure that I was getting a fair offer comparable to what other expats would receive if they were to join one of the big four firms in Singapore (not including the short to medium term assignments where they are still technically part of the US firm). Because I do realize that I may be living on a fairly tight budget! Any additional comments appreciate, and thanks again for reading!!

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Postby uscate » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 9:28 am

Hi Caliexpat -

I'm 2 months here, and so technically am still "honeymooning," so you should take the following commentary with that in mind. I'm here with my SO, and being on an LTVP with him, am having a heck of a time finding a job (but I expected that). Other than this hitch, we're both enjoying our time here.

Unlike some posters, I've found Singapore to be an extremely easy and fun place to live. The people here seem to be for the most part exceedingly polite and helpful - could be something to do with my being able to laugh at myself when I commit the occasional dumb move....people may be laughing at me in Singlish, but heck - it's human nature to do so, and really, so long as I get a polite facade, that's really all I can ask for. Interestingly enough, I've found some of the Caucasian expats in my building to be more stand-offish/rude than the people I've met on the streets or in the markets / SMRT, etc. So I wouldn't take the other posters' comments on the Singaporean population as a global truth.

If you're at a point in your life where you want to try something new for the adventure of it, and if you're not concerned with making up the pay cut you'll need to take to come here, then I'd say carpe diem, and good luck with whatever decision you make.

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 9:54 am

8.3k is a decent enough salary in Singapore, a lot of people overlook the fact that Singapore is an island country with little resources so do not expect to live in accommodation that is lavish. condos here do not live up to their name, I would call it private apartments nothing more! You may get some extra facilities in condos compared to the govt housing scheme called HDB's but I feel its definitely not worth the price on offer.
Hence I decided to stay in a HDB, stay centrally yet have enough to blow my cash on other things like booze, food , etc.
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 10:27 am

I've done the same. RE: HDB except as a PR, I bought mine in 1999.

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Postby Wd40 » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 9:32 pm

rajagainstthemachine wrote:8.3k is a decent enough salary in Singapore, a lot of people overlook the fact that Singapore is an island country with little resources so do not expect to live in accommodation that is lavish. condos here do not live up to their name, I would call it private apartments nothing more! You may get some extra facilities in condos compared to the govt housing scheme called HDB's but I feel its definitely not worth the price on offer.
Hence I decided to stay in a HDB, stay centrally yet have enough to blow my cash on other things like booze, food , etc.


Where did you get the figure 8.3k from? :???:

The OP is offered 6k, which is pathetic, if you are coming from the US. If you are from developing world and ready to just "survive" here, then its ok.

But if you have choice, stay in the US.

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 10:36 pm

Wd40 wrote:
rajagainstthemachine wrote:8.3k is a decent enough salary in Singapore, a lot of people overlook the fact that Singapore is an island country with little resources so do not expect to live in accommodation that is lavish. condos here do not live up to their name, I would call it private apartments nothing more! You may get some extra facilities in condos compared to the govt housing scheme called HDB's but I feel its definitely not worth the price on offer.
Hence I decided to stay in a HDB, stay centrally yet have enough to blow my cash on other things like booze, food , etc.


Where did you get the figure 8.3k from? :???:

The OP is offered 6k, which is pathetic, if you are coming from the US. If you are from developing world and ready to just "survive" here, then its ok.

But if you have choice, stay in the US.


see his 2nd post, he mentioned 8.5k :oops:
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Postby Wd40 » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 11:25 pm

rajagainstthemachine wrote:
Wd40 wrote:
rajagainstthemachine wrote:8.3k is a decent enough salary in Singapore, a lot of people overlook the fact that Singapore is an island country with little resources so do not expect to live in accommodation that is lavish. condos here do not live up to their name, I would call it private apartments nothing more! You may get some extra facilities in condos compared to the govt housing scheme called HDB's but I feel its definitely not worth the price on offer.
Hence I decided to stay in a HDB, stay centrally yet have enough to blow my cash on other things like booze, food , etc.


Where did you get the figure 8.3k from? :???:

The OP is offered 6k, which is pathetic, if you are coming from the US. If you are from developing world and ready to just "survive" here, then its ok.

But if you have choice, stay in the US.


see his 2nd post, he mentioned 8.5k :oops:


That is his salary in US man!

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Postby rajagainstthemachine » Thu, 07 Mar 2013 11:57 pm

Wd40 wrote:
rajagainstthemachine wrote:
Wd40 wrote:
rajagainstthemachine wrote:8.3k is a decent enough salary in Singapore, a lot of people overlook the fact that Singapore is an island country with little resources so do not expect to live in accommodation that is lavish. condos here do not live up to their name, I would call it private apartments nothing more! You may get some extra facilities in condos compared to the govt housing scheme called HDB's but I feel its definitely not worth the price on offer.
Hence I decided to stay in a HDB, stay centrally yet have enough to blow my cash on other things like booze, food , etc.


Where did you get the figure 8.3k from? :???:

The OP is offered 6k, which is pathetic, if you are coming from the US. If you are from developing world and ready to just "survive" here, then its ok.

But if you have choice, stay in the US.


see his 2nd post, he mentioned 8.5k :oops:


That is his salary in US man!


:oops: I posted that reply while doing 3 other things like i normally do :P
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Postby JR8 » Fri, 08 Mar 2013 1:06 am

uscate wrote: The people here seem to be for the most part exceedingly polite and helpful - could be something to do with my being able to laugh at myself when I commit the occasional dumb move....people may be laughing at me in Singlish, but heck - it's human nature to do so, and really, so long as I get a polite facade, that's really all I can ask for. Interestingly enough, I've found some of the Caucasian expats in my building to be more stand-offish/rude than the people I've met on the streets or in the markets / SMRT, etc. So I wouldn't take the other posters' comments on the Singaporean population as a global truth.


Well, you're 2 months in. Give it around around a year and i expect you'll turn into a '''hater''' like the rest of us ;-D

It is an interesting point you raise about other expats. From my own experience, just because someone gets in a lift with me, and has the same skin colour, does not mean I'm inviting a conversation. I mean, do you talk with complete strangers in lifts back home?

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Postby Strong Eagle » Fri, 08 Mar 2013 7:56 am

JR8 wrote:
uscate wrote: The people here seem to be for the most part exceedingly polite and helpful - could be something to do with my being able to laugh at myself when I commit the occasional dumb move....people may be laughing at me in Singlish, but heck - it's human nature to do so, and really, so long as I get a polite facade, that's really all I can ask for. Interestingly enough, I've found some of the Caucasian expats in my building to be more stand-offish/rude than the people I've met on the streets or in the markets / SMRT, etc. So I wouldn't take the other posters' comments on the Singaporean population as a global truth.


Well, you're 2 months in. Give it around around a year and i expect you'll turn into a '''hater''' like the rest of us ;-D

It is an interesting point you raise about other expats. From my own experience, just because someone gets in a lift with me, and has the same skin colour, does not mean I'm inviting a conversation. I mean, do you talk with complete strangers in lifts back home?


I duuno about that. Eight years in and I was tiring of some of the BS. But for the most part, people are what they are. There are nice people, and I am nice. There are rude people, and although my spousal unit doesn't like it, I appreciate the rude people because it gives me an opportunity to exercise my passive aggressive tendencies. You walk into me because you were glued to texting on your handphone? You will definitely notice that you walked into me.


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