Quick introduction: I am a EU law graduate. After a LLM in International Tax Law in The Netherlands, I have been proposed the same position (VAT analyst) from two different offices of the same big4, but in two very different places: London and Malta.
Now, I’m very torn about what to do, and that’s the reason I’m here asking for your advice.
If I should base my decision purely on financial concerns, I would go for Malta, as in London I would be paid more but my new-entry salary would probably make me survive the month and nothing more. On the other side, the salary I’d get in Malta would be (roughly) double the amount I’d need to pay housing/bills/food and anything else. So, half my salary or slightly less would go in my piggy bank, which is not bad for a new graduate, I guess.
Also for the quality of life, I am pretty sure I’d be better off in Malta. I have been in London and loved the place, but I am keenly aware that London as a tourist and London as a worker are too veeeeeery different world. I’m definitely not expecting to drink mojitos on the beach in Malta, as am sure that working in a big4 in La Valletta would be compelling and sometimes stressing as well, but nothing compared to the horrors waiting for me in The City.
Yet…there is the “career” argument. I have been talking to a couple (just a couple) of guys working in big4s in London (and 0 working in Malta), and they have pointed out that my assumptions about financial and life conditions could be right, but:
1- London is, with Luxembourg City, the financial and fiscal center of Europe. Therefore 1 or 2 years in London would hugely improve my CV, while Malta is a little of a peripheral center, where career advancement would likely be more slow-paced. As new-graduate, it would wise to focus on the career element and not to miss the London boat.
2- Connection and networking: In London I would probably have as clients bigger/more relevant companies, and also the networking possibilities (whatever that mean) would be quite more than on a little island.
3- After those 1 or 2 years in London, (if I’m still alive) I would be able to spend my CV and experience everywhere else, in other/same big4 or in other companies. I could easily go back to my country (in South Europe)… or to Malta, if I feel like that. Allegedly, I wouldn’t have the same “leverage” after a couple of equally hard years in Malta. To sum up: London -> Everywhere else = downward; Everywhere else -> London: upward.
4- Last point - and I really hope no one is getting offended! - Malta has some of a "shady reputation" in the tax/financial sector. You know, the online gaming industry, the passport issuing and all that stuff. I have been thinking whether and how that could affect my career/CV. After all, I do VAT, which is a quite plain, scheming-safe, monkey see-monkey do tax field.
I’d really like to have your opinion on this delicate choice, mates. Am I missing or misunderstanding something, either on the pro-Malta or on the pro-London side? Feel free to PM me if you want more details or for any other reasons.