• 06 December 2018
  • Accountancy

The Tax Expat: From the UK to Singapore with Jenny Ferguson

We are very pleased to publish the latest interview in The Tax Expat series where we spend time exploring the personal stories and experiences of a tax specialist who has taken the leap in relocating overseas.

What can seem a daunting process, we hope to alleviate some of the common fears faced by those of you who are toying with the idea of relocating by bringing unique insights from those who have been there and done it.

Last time we heard from Steve Kitching.

This week we we invited Jenny Ferguson - a Private Client Tax Specialist - to share her story around her relocation to Singapore from London, and then back again! So over to Jenny….

Jenny, thank you so much for joining us on The Tax Expat. Looking back, I recall the first time we spoke regarding the Singapore opportunity with The Fry Group. You were so excited at the prospect of relocating overseas, was this something you always planned or hoped to do?

From a young age, I have always been curious of other languages and cultures. I spent a large part of my childhood living in Italy, which was great fun and where it all began…  Living abroad, I was able to experience first hand how well connected our world is and that nowadays, there are so many benefits, professionally and personally of an international lifestyle.

With this in mind, I went on to study European Union Studies with French & Spanish at Cardiff University where I took part in the Erasmus programme. This involved spending a semester studying in France, and a semester studying in Spain.

Needless to say, it was these experiences combined that gave me a global outlook, and encouraged me to seek opportunities a little further from my home country of the UK when looking to further my career in tax.

As an ambitious and career driven individual, I was excited at the opportunity to work in Singapore and, although daunting to jet off to the other side of the world, the experience that working in another country brings is so valuable.

 

And what a place to relocate to! I’m sure that anyone who has visited Singapore will agree that it kind of sells itself, but what did you most enjoy about your Singapore experience?

Of course, (when I wasn't working!) there are so many things that I love about Singapore.

I love the weather and lifestyle in Singapore. It is always warm and very different to the weather in the UK. It was great being able to go outside to the pool at any time of year! The rooftop bars are also amazing!

Singapore is an international hub, and I made friendships there with people from all over the world. It is always nice to meet people who have different life experiences and to exchange stories, food and cultural celebrations. Particularly memorable in Singapore is the dragon dance, a traditional Chinese dance.

Last but certainly not least, working in Singapore and experiencing first hand a different work culture was really interesting. It has allowed me to understand the company better as a whole, having met and worked with colleagues in the offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK.

What great memories to look back on. Can you share any concerns you may have faced when considering the relocation?

I am very close to my family, so moving to a country as far away as Singapore was initially pretty daunting! But, when I arrived everyone was so friendly and made it easy to settle in.

It was also a good excuse for my mum to have a nice holiday!

So after 18 months you have decided to move back to the UK?

Yes, although I absolutely loved living and working in Singapore, this was a decision that I made now that I am a Mummy to baby Elizabeth!

I am very fortunate that The Fry Group is an international company and they have been able to offer me a job in one of their UK offices. This is great because I can carry on working with a company that I love, and I can be in regular contact with my Singapore and HK colleagues, who I miss greatly!

Many congratulations, Jenny, that’s amazing news and certainly life changing! My last question, can you offer any advice that you’d give to those considering the idea of relocating?

Yes of course. My top three tips for anyone considering relocating are:

  • Research before you go - Before you make the move, make sure you do some research to ensure that what you want both professionally and personally will be achievable in your new location. Ask yourself, ‘is this the right place overall for me (and my family if applicable) to be?’.
  • Settling in - When you arrive, try to make your new house or apartment as comfortable and as homely as possible. Unpack as soon as you can, and decorate your new home with your favourite photos. Also, get out straight away and start making friends with other expats and people from your home country, as well as with the locals. This will give you the best of both worlds, as you will be able to have the comfort of relationships with people who share your culture as well as learn about your new country from the locals.
  • Stay in touch - Make sure that you set up regular calls with your family and friends back at home. This will help you feel connected with your home country and help to combat any culture shock. Although it can be difficult sometimes with a time difference, it is important to maintain these strong relationships.

Great pointers and excellent advice. Thanks again, Jenny, especially now you’ve got your hands full with Elizabeth! It was great to hear your experiences and to be able to share them with our network of tax professionals!

 

Are you a Tax Expat? If so, we'd love to hear about your experiences and share them with our global tax network. For more information, please contact David Waddell or Alex Mann.

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