Healthy appetite to hire across Tax remains despite external influences

Morgan McKinley 08.10.2019

Recruitment of Tax professionals has remained consistent over recent months.

Overview of Tax recruitment

Despite the turbulent political environment, there is still a healthy appetite to recruit into the professional services market, with most opportunities at manager level and above across all taxes. There has also been an increase in strategic hires which is encouraging in such a bizarre political climate. In contrast, the extreme niche areas appear to be suffering and there is less ‘need’ for recruitment, whilst broader specialist subject matter experts (private client tax, private equity, deals tax etc.) are still being sought after.

The practice market is currently heavily job led, meaning that if there isn’t a business case, no matter how good the candidate is, it  can be hard to get approval for a hire. This is exacerbated further by most of the Big 4 being at year end and their finances/year end profit not being as strong as in previous years.

Flow of jobs across Tax in recent months

The practice market remains heavily job led, but there have been instances of more stringent enforcement of vacancies requiring a business case, which could indicate that organisations are looking at headcount for the coming year with added caution. This is exacerbated further by most of the Big 4 being at year end and their finances/year end profit not being as strong as in previous years. General Practice (‘GP’) has had a consistent and positive flow of opportunities of varying levels of experience across all taxes. 

There continues to be new in-house human capital roles coming available as companies look to bring this function in-house for the first time. A number are looking to do this on a Fixed Term Contract (‘FTC’) basis, as getting permanent sign off for brand new, rather than replacement, headcount continues to be a challenge.

The most prominent roles available

  • VAT advisory managers have been a stand out opportunity from small General Practices through to mid-tier and Top 10 firms. This skill set has been in demand all year but more so in recent months with firms claiming growth and client demand as the reason for the hires.
  • Specialist and niche skills continue to be demanded and the UK/US High Net Worth market shows no signs of slowing down with a particular appetite for newly qualified UK/US candidates.
  • Advisor roles across both Private Client and Corporate tax. These vacancies can be tricky to fill as level is not clearly defined and varies from firm to firm.

For the remainder of 2019…

Brexit has not been directly identified as responsible for the slowed rates of hiring, but it can’t be ignored. Having said that, tax teams have still been recruiting throughout this lengthened period of uncertainty, so whether we leave the EU or not, we can’t see this dramatically changing the appetite to recruit for the remainder of this year. In particular, the human capital market looks to be robust enough to navigate the choppy political waters but, as margins continue to tighten and the Big 4 look to new technologies and specialist areas to help them maximise revenue and profit, the market could become increasingly challenging.

Tax recruitment facts from summer

Contributing factors to success

In order for Tax professionals to stand out against the crowd, they should:

  • Effectively communicate with their recruiter - a breakdown in communication is where processes falter, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or meet
  • Get involved in new initiatives and remember that in a fee earning position the more commercial you are and if you have a proven track record of delivery and driving revenue and profitability, the more attractive you become
  • Display their experience of utilising any technology skills - crucial as we move to a more digital and automated future
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