Tax Review - January/February 2020

Kerry McLaughlin 17.02.2020

The tax market remains consistently busy across the whole market, despite the influences of disruptors such as Brexit and Artificial Intelligence. These disruptors appear to be having no direct adverse impact on workload and hiring trends.

Overview of the tax market

Whilst the general sentiment has been quite uncertain in recent months, tax recruitment across the whole market, including Big 4, Top-Tier, Boutiques and General Practice has remained consistently busy, with external influences not having a major [negative] effect on the overall market and hiring needs.

When we have spoken to our clients, whilst some firms are hiring more than others, overall, there has been a consistent requirement for candidates across all disciplines from personal/private client through to corporate, M&A, VAT, international and human capital.  

Conversely, the political uncertainty has led to major hesitancy from professionals and lack of willingness to move and seek new opportunities. However, 2020 has shown more interest thus far, and so we expect that as we gain more clarity over Brexit, professionals will be more open to exploring their potential. 

Regardless of the fact that the political environment is somewhat uncertain, the tax landscape in the UK increasingly focuses on compliance, transparency and reporting across all disciplines, creating more opportunities for tax professionals.

Hiring trends across all disciplines

  • Personal tax and private client professionals are very much in demand, but the requirement for CTA is a must in most circumstances. Managers and Senior managers with an advisory and international skill set are mostly in demand - therefore not much has changed! However, the OMB skill set is becoming more sought after, particularly in boutique firms and firms outside of the Top 30, with an awareness of issues facing both individuals and their businesses being an increasing requirement.
  • Corporate tax has been in demand mostly across tax tech, financial services, and international tax. We have however, also seen a focus on regional recruitment outside of London with ‘London quality’ work on offer combined with a better work-life balance and potentially more collegiate atmosphere and team environment.  
  • VAT professionals have been in demand across all of the Big 4, Top-Tier and firms outside the Top 30, with a mix of critical hires as well as growth hires. Compliance is required but almost always limited in a role with advisory being much more of a focus. 
  • M&A teams continue to be busy, despite the assumption that Brexit would do the opposite. Private equity has had a major impact on the growth of teams within this discipline and this is most prevalent amongst the Top 6 and boutique firms. 
  • Employment tax continues to dominate the human capital recruitment trends with IR35 creating lots of opportunities. The already existing shortage of employment tax specialists, combined with the movement of these professionals into industry roles, only increased the competition for talent - which tends to happen across most disciplines. 

Despite the slow down in 2019 (mostly driven by a lack of willing professionals), tax teams have maintained a relatively consistent level of hiring, or at least a consistent level of desire to hire. Whether 2020 takes a different turn and sees more movement is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the demand for talent vs demand for opportunities prevails once more

Kerry McLaughlin's picture
Senior Consultant | Tax Recruitment in London and Regions
kmclaughlin@morganmckinley.com

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