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Working internationally

In a global economy, the opportunity to work abroad has become more common and easier to organize. And, according to recent research, experience abroad is more frequently becoming a prerequisite for top-level executive jobs. 
Written on 02/13/23

written by
Sarah Schadek-Keane, Director Germany, Emerald Group

Patrick McAleer, Director International, Emerald Group

A good example could be seen in the Netherlands recently, with high numbers of South Africans (more than 2000 according to the Dutch statistical bureau in 2021) relocating there in recent years, a trend we have also observed in the actuarial profession.

The Netherlands is known for its strong economy, excellent employment opportunities, inspiring cities, and high quality of life.

Not only is the Netherlands attractive in terms of their work/life balance, but the Dutch government offers tax incentives for highly skilled migrants, especially in the financial (including the actuarial field), engineering and information technology fields.

There is also a 30% tax ruling that is an attractive incentive for expats. This ruling is aimed at highly skilled migrants that have expertise in areas that are not easily found in the Netherlands.

The 30% ruling entails that an employer may compensate you for ‘extraterritorial costs’ equivalent to 30% of gross salary untaxed.

According to the Dutch Tax Administration, employees must meet the following conditions to qualify for this –

  • The employee is in paid employment.
  • The employee has specific expertise that is not or hardly found in the Dutch labour market.
  • The employee was recruited outside of the Netherlands.
  • The employee is in possession of a valid decision from the government.

Why are South African Actuaries of interest to Consultancies and Insurers in the Netherlands?

Besides the obvious closeness of the language (Dutch/Afrikaans) and English being well spoken in both countries, South Africans are being considered strong technically due to their actuarial qualification that is based on the IFoA and requires 7-10 exams to qualify.

They are also able to work themselves quickly into Solvency II topics due to SAM being largely based on it with minor differences due to unique features in the South African market and economic environment.

What we also observed is, that South African actuaries tend to be stronger within Data Analytics and Machine Learning topics and have advanced programming skills, which is in high demand currently  and is supported by the South African Actuaries Development Program.

This is one example of many.

Before considering an international opportunity though, it is important that you have a thorough understanding and knowledge of the country you will be living in. This includes cultural and political factors, but also an idea of what your day-to-day life will be like. Speak to people who have worked at the location ideally. It’s also important that you understand the financial differences, tax system and cost of living in the specific country so that you can negotiate an appropriate salary and package.

It will always be a step out of your comfort zone but it will help you grow, it will add value to your CV and open up new opportunities in the long-term.

The questions is – are you ready for it?