Things to consider when making your next move within tax

Traditionally, the tax profession has been known for providing technical opinions on issues that affect individuals and corporates. However, the industry is changing and an increasing number of clients are now looking for tax professionals with a strategic focus, commercial mindset, ability to think analytically, and have an understanding of IT systems and processes (e.g. tax digitisation).

Prior to tax recruitment, I was a tax advisor. After gaining my CTA qualification and working for several years within the Big 4 and in-house, I realised that the role I had didn’t fulfil my desires of being relationship focused, and having a more personable and commercial role within my career was what I wanted. I therefore sought an alternative role that allowed me to use my tax qualification and the knowledge I had gained. Why am I telling you this?

I believe that there are certain things you should question when looking for your next role within tax, as the landscape has changed quite dramatically particularly with the introduction of tax digitisation, offering more than you might think.

For Tax Professionals considering a change of role, I've compiled a list of key things that you should consider.

Motivations for moving

What is the motivation for wanting to make that change and what is it that you're hoping to achieve? Moving jobs should never be in response to a bad meeting or bad day - we all get those, so you must be certain of your motivations to move as this will provide the basis for the type of role you seek. Being certain of your reasons to look for a change in career will enable you to be:

  • More focussed in your search as you will understand what you really want to do as well as what makes you happy at work;
  • Passionate about your move and in turn create positive long term career prospects;
  • Confident about your choice so that if you're asked to reconsider resigning, your decision to leave will be effortless as you can fall back on your reasons and motivations for leaving.

Identify your key skills

Based on personal experiences, I believe you should identify the areas you excel in and what you like doing.

  • Are you a technical expert?
  • Are you a 'people person'?
  • Do you enjoy being the key relationship manager?
  • Do you crave a strategic role which enables commerciality?

By identifying this, you are likely to succeed in your career as you will naturally excel. Many candidates I speak with think that relationship focused roles or strategic roles do not necessarily exist in tax, especially in practice - but this is not the case. The landscape of tax has changed so much over the years which has led to a variety of roles, with practice more than ever being able to offer you a career that can be designed around your strengths, which in turn offers a more tailored career. Play to your strengths!

Seek advice and build a network

Talk to people! Use your personal and professional networks to help you assess where you should focus your efforts. The best way to ascertain what is right for you (especially if you find it difficult to assess this yourself) is to speak to people who are willing and who can actually help and those that you trust.

Something I have learnt is that by building a network of peers, I have been able to draw on these people to have constructive (and useful) conversations to help determine my next move.

By having these conversations, you may not determine the right move instantly, but you will find yourself one step closer to being there. I always encourage this amongst my network (both personally and professionally) and the outcome is always positive.

Don't be afraid

Throughout my tax career, I made a few moves within tax both within discipline and from in-house to practice. And the change in my career to tax recruitment was no more daunting than those moves. The point being that I didn’t know what to expect and had not accumulated goodwill in my new career.

The easy option (in the short term) would have been to stay in an environment I knew and was comfortable in. I challenged myself and haven't looked back.

The fear of failure could prevent you from achieving your career goals, so don't let it. Equally it enables you to fight harder for what you want, so use it to your advantage if you feel nervous about a new challenge!