The differences between working in VAT in London to Amsterdam

As an EMEA-wide recruiter covering all levels of indirect tax, it’s fair to say that I’ve dealt with numerous VAT professionals, all with different motivations and career goals. The world of VAT can often be entrenched in stereotypical tropes such as ‘no work-life balance’ or ‘stressful deadlines’. Both of which are spot-on. Like most job sectors in life, you are bound to find employers who fully embrace the corporate machine ethos. However, if I told you there was a city regarded as a ‘European VAT hub’ that doesn’t share the issues stated before, would you be interested?

This blog aims to highlight the cultural differences between London and Amsterdam, regarding the indirect tax sector. Now, don’t get me wrong, both cities offer an endless amount of opportunity, and much like every other city in the world, there are good and bad employers (but if you find yourself working long hours, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you work for a bad employer).

There’s a long list of advantageous points for why London is a great city to work in, especially when first embarking on your VAT career. Numerous financial institutions have their headquarters positioned here, meaning you can gain experience from some of the most prestigious companies in the world. Not forgetting to mention, the numerous globally spread professional services firms.

Steering away from the professional side, it’s essential (in my eyes) that we dive deeper into the working culture of Amsterdam:
  • No more burning the midnight oil. It’s quite common for working hours to be advertised as 9-5, and actually, be honoured!
  • Social life with family and friends is taken very seriously in the Netherlands. Don’t expect many people to be checking their phones or replying to e-mails. This is the time to relax and wind down!
  • Geographically, the Netherlands has several key cities within close range of one another. Several websites state that the Netherlands is one of the top 5 best public transport networks in the world. Meaning that city-to-city commuting is a pleasure. No more standing up for two hours on the 6 am train from Portsmouth to London!
  • It’s also important to note that Amsterdam is a hive of hard-working professionals.  They have managed to cultivate a culture that adheres to the perfect balance of work & home life.

If you consider all that, and that the salaries are generally higher, it paints Amsterdam in the perfect light.  This isn’t an attempt to suggest London isn’t a great place to work. It’s just not everyone in the world of VAT has the same work motivations.

Luckily, there are plenty of diverse and lucrative VAT roles in both cities and the indirect tax team here at Harvey John are more than happy to discuss them in more detail.

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