JOHANNESBURG – If you pushed your trolley down an aisle of the main supermarket in Grand Cayman, you’d be forgiven if you thought you were in South Africa.
“I’ve heard and spoken more Afrikaans here in the past year than I ever did back in Johannesburg. That should give you some sort of indication of how many South Africans are here,” South African-born chartered accountant Alon Berger (pictured below) tells Moneyweb.
After completing his articles at EY in Johannesburg in 2015, Berger headed to the Cayman Islands “for the hedge funds, beaches and tax-free pay”. While he expected to be challenged in his new role at PwC, the number of South Africans living and working on the island caught him off guard.
Due to the large expat community, the island’s main supermarket has an aisle with dedicated South African products and it is not unheard of for the local watering hole to host a “South Africa day”.
Berger says during a three-month period last year he was contacted by 18 different CAs(SA) – mostly newly-qualified or with one to three years experience – through Facebook or LinkedIn hoping to work on the island. The competition is fierce and many people don’t get an interview without a strong reference.
The decision to work abroad was not informed by fears about South Africa’s prospects but rather an opportunity to get exposure to some of the largest hedge funds in the world. Moving to the Caymans offered exciting career prospects, travel opportunities but also the ability to earn a foreign salary.