In-House Vs Practice

Ian Barker 25.04.2016

With the budget 2016 and the new tax year firmly underway, there have also been a number of significant changes in the market from both the in-house and practice market especially amongst the Big 4, Top 10 & FTSE listed businesses in comparison to the start of 2015.

As a specialist within Employment Tax recruitment, I have been able to grasp the increase of positions available across a variety of levels from Assistant Manager up to Partner. As many of you may know, positions across the In-House market can generally become available very far and few between whereas positions in practice are frequently available throughout the financial year.

When speaking with candidates, many want to make the move In-house, but their experience and motivations don’t quite line up. These candidates are reluctant to make a what they call a ‘sideways’ move to another Big 4 or Top 10 firm due to the role being quite similar with the same concerns. Let’s take a look as to what candidates should consider when making a move to another Big 4 or a step In-House.

Why In-House:

  • Work-life balance. Working in-house is well-known for having a good work-life balance – as you only have one client, you can foresee upcoming projects and deadlines and manage your workload accordingly.
  • Business exposure. You will gain exposure to the working of the business as you will be dealing with people from numerous areas within it, not just tax. You’ll also gain a more in-depth commercial understanding of the company.
  • Broad exposure. You’ll be less pigeon-holed than you would be in a large practice, and thus would gain exposure to a range of different tax issues, allowing you to build all round experience.
  • Projects. You will see projects through from the beginning to the end, whereas in practice you can be put on and taken off projects as and when your expertise and man-power is needed.
  • Bonuses. Bonuses in-house tend to be much larger than in practice.

Why not In-House:

  • Progression. The teams are small (dependent on the size of the business) and for roles higher up to become available, it is often a case of moving companies in order to move up a level. In particular, Head of Tax positions are few and far between. If you think you’d like to make the move in-house the best time to do it is when you’re at the Assistant Manager grade, as it can become difficult at higher levels, due to becoming to specialist in practice, and due to the rarity of opportunities.
  • Less specialist or technical. As mentioned above, although you would gain broad exposure in-house, you’d therefore be less of a specialist and are thus less likely to be involved in very technically complex work.
  • Advisory/Compliance. A number of people I speak to say they prefer advisory work over compliance, but chances are that a large majority of the work you would do in-house would be compliance and reporting. There are advisory and planning roles in-house but they are rare.
  • Business Development. For those who enjoy business development, in-house is not the place to be, however, if it’s something you don’t enjoy so much then in-house could be the place for you.

Making any move is always a decision that requires a lot of consideration and you must make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons, in order to ensure that your next role will be everything you want from your job.

If you would like any assistance in your search for Employment Tax Professionals, or would like an informal conversation about the available positions then please get in touch.

Ian Barker's picture
UK Director - Professional Services (Taxation, Audit, Legal)


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