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How to thrive in an international career in accounting and finance

When I was young growing up in Hong Kong, I was fascinated by the glamour of Wall St and all the professionals dressing up in suits, but I never imagined myself making it to New York City. Once I graduated with my business degree in finance and economics, I also got my CPA - turns out, having accounting and finance skills under my belt opened up my world in financial capital markets globally, and allowed me to continue to evolve, move to New York, and become an entrepreneur. The financial markets basically exist to bring people together so money flows to where it is needed most. So often people think all the people who are crushing it out there in the financial world are the finance guys - but hey - there are actually a lot of us cool bean counters not only counting beans but growing them for businesses to flourish. I am so excited to have David Sarfas as our guest this week to talk about his international career journey, the financial capital markets and so much more.



On the podcast, David details that authenticity and intention when searching for a position are key tools for success. When David was looking for a job, he made it clear to his employers that one day, he hoped to work in the international space. Although he started in audit, David worked in many practice areas and continually authentically and intentionally sought positions which would match his interests. For example, this process led him to work in Japan without hesitation. To emulate his experiences, authentically investigate your interests when searching for a position.


Working internationally means always being exposed to new cultural realities. European, Asian, and American cultural expectations for timing at a board meeting, for example, may differ drastically. More concretely, frameworks of measurement, the integration of systems, and the requirements for compliance reporting greatly impact the atmosphere in these countries. David explains that a key approach to succeeding in international accounting and finance is reaching out to people who have lived in an area you are interested in; listen to their advice about cultural realities and expectations abroad, and you’ll be much better equipped than entering the foreign space without preparation.


Many Dear Accountant guests have explained the virtues of a mentorship pairing. David, in this episode, shares his vision of mentorship as a two-way street, where the relationship is built based off of authentically shared interests and experiences. David believes that the mentee should chose their mentors based on who they are attracted to learning and seeking advice from. Then, building the relationship can help determine who is or is not a good mentor; observing how these potential mentors act and interact is key to choosing your coach. Like athletic coaches, everyone needs someone to help strengthen and empower their journeys by guide their decision making, give feedback at critical deciding moments, and pointing the mentee in the right direction.

🎧 To learn more about accounting, finance, working abroad, or mentorship, listen to the Dear Accountant podcast here.

🎙 The “Dear Accountant” podcast is a uniquely insightful and entertaining podcast for aspiring young business professionals. Each episode is packed with actionable advice to help young finance professionals get ready for whatever challenge they may face next. Aside from all of the many cool things in accounting (technical topics and trends), we bring in industry experts and influential leaders to share their journey, insights, and perspectives. We will also cover topics that were not taught in school - life essential skills such as personal finance, emotional intelligence, mentorship, networking, body language, and human behaviors, and so much more!

💬 About our guest, David Sarfas: David is the Managing Director and Head of Private Capital at Intertrust Group. He has three decades of experience serving the alternative asset industry. He’s worked at a big 4 accounting firm, global investment bank, fund administration services in different capacities. His experience covers a wide range of business issues and processes which includes financial and accounting due diligence, structuring and valuing transactions, and investment banking services for alternative asset management industry participants.

📖 Get amazing advice from the 20 mentors in “Dear Accountant” Book: The book offers a unique immersion into the lives and careers of 20 inspiring leaders in finance from different disciplines - their backstories, pivotal moments, career trajectories, and hiccups along the way.

🎧 Listen to Cece’s interviews about her passion and mission in writing this book and paying it forward to help young professionals to find meaning and fulfillment in their life and career:


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